What part of the country you live in likely has an effect on what name you call carbonated beverages (Coke vs. soda vs. pop), but many regions of the country also have their own unique soft drinks. Some, like Dr. Pepper, have gained national popularity, while others are still mostly a local favorite. If you're from Alabama, you know exactly what the local soft drink favorite is: Grapico soda.
What is Grapico Grape Soda?
Grapico is a grape soda famous for its deep purple color and super sweet taste. First made and sold in New Orleans in 1914 by J. Grossman's Sons, the drink expanded to Alabama in 1917 when Raymond Rochell started buying the grape syrup by the barrel and bottling the soft drink in the Birmingham-located Grapico Bottling Works.
From the beginning, Grapico used advertising to help bolster the idea that the drink was made with real grape juice, although the grape taste came from artificial grape flavoring instead of any actual grapes. The label for the original 7 fl oz bottle pictured a bunch of grapes along with the phrase "Naturally Good."
J. Grossman's Sons even commissioned a song from jazz composers Ivan Reid and Peter DeRose to spread the word about the popular purple soda. Titled "Meet Me in the Land of Grapico," the ballad tells the story of someone yearning to meet their sweetheart in the "land of the grape arbor vine."
Although the fact that Grapico didn't include any real fruit caused some issues with the Federal Trade Commission, fans of the caffeine-free sweet soda have never seemed to care. The drink was sold in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, and Louisiana until 1981, when the Buffalo Rock Company, an independent Pepsi bottler in Birmingham, acquired the Grapico franchise.
Buffalo Rock first sold the drink only in Alabama, Florida, and Georgia, and then expanded it into the rest of the Southeastern U.S. starting in 1988. The bottling company has continued to produce the soda, adding a couple of new versions, including a Diet Grapico and a 100th-anniversary drink made with real sugar and sold in a glass bottle.
Where Can I Buy Grapico Soda?
Southerners still love Grapico, enlisting family to send cases of it up north or stocking up whenever they can. Fortunately, these days you can order the soda that tastes exactly like a grape lollipop directly from the Buffalo Rock website.