Metropolitan News-Enterprise


Thursday, December 11, 2003


Page 15



Soft Drinks: Some Evoke Nostalgia—‘Pop Drops’ Don’t




A beverage that was once common and now seldom encountered is the Shirley Temple, named after the popular child star of the 1930s. The non-alcoholic bar drink was previously known as a “pussyfoot.” Somehow, despite the attainment in later years by the former star of diplomatic status and the alteration of her surname by virtue of marriage, the beverage did not come to be renamed the “Ambassador Black.”

A couple years ago, my wife and I were attending a California Artists Radio Theater production at the Cinegrill in the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel and, at the intermission, the bar was opened. A woman asked for a Shirley Temple, and it was (probably to her surprise) made for her.

My wife and I ordered the same. Neither of us had sipped one for many a year.

Actually, when I was a tad in the early 1950s, it was only girls who were served Shirley Temples. Boys got the same drink—grenadine syrup and ginger ale, topped with a maraschino cherry—but it was denominated a “Roy Rogers.” (Okay, it wasn’t always the same. Some bartenders varied the masculine version by using cola instead of ginger ale.)

It was miraculous enough that the bartender at the Cinegrill knew how to make a Shirley Temple. I did not press my luck by asking for a Roy Rogers.

The woman whose order we dittoed that day explained to us that when she was a child, her parents would take her to the Cinegrill, and she was always treated to a Shirley Temple. A half a century later, she relived that experience.

(Among those present that day was a pert woman in her 90s who, when introduced, garnered loud applause. She was Penny Singleton, star of the “Blondie” movies, who died last month.)

The Coca-Cola Company in recent years began marketing cherry Coke—and there recently emerged vanilla Coke. In the old days of soda fountains, in drug stores and in drive-ins, there were not only the ever-popular cherry Cokes, but those flavored with lemon, lime, strawberry…well, any flavor they had in syrup form.

My favorite beverage in those days was cream soda. If it wasn’t flavorful enough, you could ask the soda jerk to add another squirt of the syrup.

And Hires Root Beer was dispensed from kegs, just like real beer.


Do you remember “Pop Drops” in the 1950s? They were round tablets, like Alka-Seltzer. You’d drop one in water and it would fizz—like Alka-Seltzer. Come to think of it, the carbonated soft drink that was produced tasted quite a bit like Alka-Seltzer.

The product came in various flavors, including cola. Pop Drops were, to employ juvenile verbiage of the era, “yukko.”

I found a photo of a package of Pop Drops on the Internet. The ingredients included sodium cyclamate— which has since been banned as a carcinogenic—and saccharine, which was similarly blacklisted for several years.

I remember entertainer George Jessel recounting on his KCOP talk show (which started in 1959) how he had invested in a similar product which was served at a reception for those who had plunked their money in the enterprise. He said there was a room filled with nauseated entrepeneurs.


Copyright 2003, Metropolitan News Company


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