Even though the spring weather here in the Mid-Willamette Valley, Oregon is not conducive to cold drinks, we do get asked “Do you have anything to drink?” At this time all we carry is bottled. So we have been wrestling with the logistics of providing cold beverages that fit our vision of fresh, local, made to order foods. Not so easy with today’s liquids, and, alas, given the OLCC rules, no pression (beer on tap) is going to happen either.
As kids growing up in Ellensburg, WA we would ride our bikes down to the local bottler and watch through the open door as the bottles came marching down the conveyor from the washer, through the filling machine, then the bottle capper. They made orange, green river, root beer, and probably coke and stuff too. Pretty impressive. At some point that went away, and like many local products, centralized plants and lots of trucks supplanted the small town supplier. It’s not quite the same seeing a YouTube video of the Pepsi plant… There was also a fountain in the Woolworth’s Five and Dime, and they would make sodas in those conical paper cones. That was a lone time ago…
So, fresh and local. And practical. Today in Oregon, thanks to the resurgence of craft brewing, there are soda brewers arriving on the scene. Big guys like Thomas Kemper, smaller ones like Hotlips in Portland, Mt/ Angel Brewing Company, Crater Lake sodas. Good products. Great accompaniments to crêpes. But they take up room and need ice. Room is something we simply do not have. several cases of sodas and the coolers required would bump us up to a trailer, or a bigger truck, something we cannot afford or justify merely to add drinks to our menu.
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This is our truck Vanna White. A great truck, she is loaded to her eyebrows with the cart, coolers, tent, dishes, and supplies. We can squeeze about one case of water in the side door, and that is about it. But not the level of product we want to serve.
So after talking with some of the above soda makers, and thinking about the logistics of bottles, coolers, ice, returning empties, and so forth, we landed on making our own sodas, using recyclable containers, fresh on the spot.
Are they really ‘Italian Sodas’?
So we bought a soda siphon, and some flavors, and now have a compact source of cool and refreshing drinks. Since we already carry water to make additional crêpe batter if needed, the additional ice and ingredients was a small increase in our load. But in researching the history, there is some evidence that the “Italian Soda” came from the Torre Brothers in San Francisco, makers of Torani Syrups, while in fact the American Soda Fountain of years gone by is more likely the true progenitor of these drinks.
Whatever the history, and no doubt there are fan pages and alternate version being edited and re-edited on wikipedia and facebook even as this is being written, the important thing is that we are carrying Italian Sodas, so far five flavors, and they are very very tasty.
So as the weather improves, add a soda to your crêpe. You’ll be glad you did.