Dr Pepper Snapple Group
ginger aleshares the title of America's oldest soft drinkwith Hires Root Beer. It was invented in 1866by James Vernor, a Detroit pharmacist.
In 1862, James Vernor was called off to the
American Civil War. According to legend, he left a mixture of ginger, vanillaand spices sitting in an oak caskin a pharmacy he had been working in. After returning from battle four years later, he opened the keg and found the drink inside had been changed by the aging process in the wood. It was like nothing else he had ever tasted, and he purportedly declared it "Deliciously different," which remains the drink's motto to this day. Its current slogan is "Barrel Aged, Bold Taste!". The apostrophe in the name "Vernor's" was dropped in the late 1950s. [http://www.vernors.com/beverages/VernorsArticle.htm]
Vernors is a golden ginger ale with a pungent flavor, more like a
ginger beer. This style was common before Prohibitionwhen the less flavorful pale ginger ale became popular as an alcoholic mixer. While Michiganders who grew up with it tend to like it, many other Americans are suspicious of it, as it doesn't taste like a "typical" ginger ale. The Traverse City Record-Eaglereported that most non-Michiganders "think Vernor's tastes like urine. There's a reason no one else drinks it." (Traverse City Record-Eagle "Locals Favor the Flavor - Vernor's in Northern Michigan" July 8, 1987.)
Vernors has a reputation of being highly carbonated and drinking Vernors from a glass can sometimes make one sneeze or cough from the bubbles it gives off. Some people consume Vernors hot as a remedy for stomachache, with ginger being the active ingredient.
The Vernor family owned the company until 1966 when they sold it to an investment group. The company was next acquired by American Consumer Products and then by
United Brandsbefore being purchased by A&WBeverages in 1987. A&W was later purchased by Cadbury Schweppes.
Although both Hires Root Beer and Vernors claim the title of first American soft drink, some argue that while Hires Root Beer was just another
root beer, Vernors was not just another ginger ale, due to its unique aging process and unusual sweetener. For many, Vernor's Ginger Ale is, in fact, the first true American-born soft drink.
Vernors was not mass distributed nationally until the late 1980s. Previously the drink was primarily distributed only within a few hundred miles of Detroit, with particular popularity in
Michigan, Western New York, Ohio, Chicago, and Southern Ontario, but it can now be found throughout the United States. It is also popular in Florida, which has large numbers of retired Metro DetroitersFact|date=April 2007, and was even sporadically seen for sale there in the early 1960s — again, due to the presence of northerners migrating to the state after the Second World War.
Detroit menu items that include Vernors
Boston cooleris an ice cream soda drink made from Vernors and vanilla ice cream, named not after Boston, Massachusetts, where Vernors is practically unknown, but after Detroit's Boston Boulevard, where it was supposedly invented.
For many years the Detroit-based
Sanders Confectionerychain offered a special Vernors-flavored ice cream at its retail stores.
*"The Vernor's Story : From Gnomes to Now", Lawrence L. Rouch, ISBN 0-472-06697-8
* [http://www.brandspeoplelove.com/csab/Brands/Vernors/tabid/135/Default.aspx Vernors page from Cadbury Schweppes web site]
*A Vernors Fansite [http://www.vernors.com/beverages/VernorsArticle.htm]
* [http://info.detnews.com/history/story/index.cfm?id=209&category=business Snack foods and pop, Detroit style]
*Vernor's Collectors Club [http://www.wowway.com/~vernors/index.html]
* [http://home.comcast.net/~steelbeard1/flinn052104.htm A Tasty Part of Flint History--The former Vernor's outlet in Flint, MI, now Halo Burger]
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