Remember the Foods and Drinks

Talking with a friend from the South, brought back memories for this pre-boomer about the local products I enjoyed as a kid. He thought a great after school snack was an RC Cola and a Moon Pie. My favorite, as a Philadelphian, was a Hires Root Beer and a Tastykake. It wasn’t until we were older and started traveling that either one of us got to taste what the other liked as a kid because these were regional brands that were not best sellers, or in many instances not available, except in specific areas of the country.

Loving the foods from my hometown, I fondly remembered my favorites: Philly Cheese Steaks, soft pretzels, scrapple, tomato pie (the early local name for pizza) as well as a host of others. It was great fun recalling these gastronomical memories and my mouth watered as I yearned for just one taste, which would hardly be enough.

This got me thinking about food and drink from coast to coast. So I contacted a few friends who grew up in different parts of the country and did a bit of online research to come up with some of the snacks and drinks New Seniors enjoyed when we didn’t have to worry about our waste lines or our cholesterol.

New Englanders’ had a drink called Moxie which was popular until Coke (first formulated in Atlanta) and Pepsi (the alternative to Coke that moved from its North Carolina roots to New York City) began to make inroads against the stronger tasting Moxie. Even the endorsement of Boston Red Sox star Ted Williams’ could not stop the slide of this once famous drink. That section of the country, as with other regions, had lots of flavored drinks produced by local bottlers.

In New York, besides Pepsi, there were lots of bottlers. Among them was Dr. Brown’s a soda which appealed to the areas large Jewish population and spread nationwide because of it. In the Midwest, where carbonated soft drinks (“sodas”) are called “pop,” Vernor’s Ginger Ale was popular as was Faygo, with all its flavors. Dr. Pepper was a big in the Southwest and there was Shasta on the West Coast. There were no diet drinks back then.

Any of these drinks was perfect for washing down our favorite sub sandwiches. But that’s not what they were called everywhere. Grinder was the name for this Italian specialty in the Northeast. A Hero is what New Yorkers ordered. In Philly it was a Hoagie. New Orleans spawned the name Po’ Boy, which was Poor Boy in St. Louis. Chicago had the Italian Beef sandwich. Blimpie, Torpedo, Rocket, Bomber and Zeppelin are all names used for this hearty sandwich that may change its ingredients, but not its shape, depending on the part of the country where it is made.

The differences by geographic areas are sometimes striking. By the same token you may surprised by the similarities of some items, except for the name the locals call it. Whatever the case, our memories tell us how much we enjoyed the tastes of our favorite foods and drinks from long ago.