For those of you that grew up in the 80’s you may remember the bottle above. New York Seltzer was the Snapple of the time; a little independent drink company that had hardcore fans, but not a major national following. I found out that New York Seltzer is coming back and I’m really excited about it! It may be a bit silly to be excited by the return of a drink, but New York Seltzer has a special place in my heart. It is the first thing that I remember drinking when my family first moved out to California.
Before 1985 I lived in Milwaukee, Wisconsin – home of cheese, Green Bay Packers fans, and terrifyingly cold winters. I have memories of not being allowed outside during the coldest ones because there was a concern that the lungs of children and the elderly would freeze. The door handle to my mom’s car snapped off in her hand once because it was so cold. Automatic doors to get into the grocery store would fail in the winter. It was damn cold. That being said I also have memories of awesome snow forts that took up most of our backyard and how my dad and I dug really long tunnels in the snow drifts.
Then in February 1985 my dad got transferred to California and we moved from Milwaukee to Brea. It was a drastic difference! We went from snow and heavy coats and boots to sunshine, swimming pools, and shorts. I wore my moon boots for the first month just because that’s what I was used to wearing (I was a fashion plate). When we first got to California there were all kinds of things to check out. Suddenly we were in spitting distance of Disneyland, there was a beach that was against the ocean and not a giant lake, and new kinds of food – like avocados and salsa!
During one of our jaunts to explore the neighborhood we stopped at a little hole-in-the-wall deli. It’s not there anymore but I remember it vividly. It was dark, mostly by comparison because it was so bright outside, it had white walls and black and white checkered tile floors. There were framed pictures of New York on the walls and little bistro tables. I got a B.L.T. and my mom got me my first New York Seltzer. She thought it would be fun to try since they didn’t have regular soda there.
It wasn’t just fun, it was a revelation!
I had never tasted anything like it before. It was black cherry flavor and it was clear and crisp and tasted like California. That’s honestly the best description I can give. It was the taste equivalent of all the cliche romantic imagery of California wrapped up in a bottle that told you it was from New York City. Palm trees, beaches, smiling pretty people, surfing – it was in the bottle. It was like a movie montage of Southern California in your mouth.
It came in 4-packs and we bought them in a variety of flavors although peach and black cherry were my favorites. My friend, Tommy, used to have burping contests with me spurred on by the carbonated power of the seltzer. When we got really desperate we’d even drink the cream soda. When we were really desperate.
Then, in the early 90’s, the magic died. A competitive soft drink market killed New York Seltzer and all this nation was left with was a fading memory of flavor joy. I moved on to Pepsi and Dr. Pepper, but the memory of New York Seltzer always haunted me…
New York Seltzer is coming back! It is available online and hopefully soon in stores! I haven’t tasted it in, wow, over 20 years but I’m really looking forward to it. If any of the New York Seltzer folks are reading this: I’ll happily plug the product for a few 4-packs! You can check out their website below and order all the black cherry soda you can drink!