Ask a Chicagoan their favorite soda and there's a good chance it'll be Green River. Created in 1916 by Richard C. Jones of Davenport, Iowa, original Green River soda pop was first fizzed up in his local soda fountain to attract young customers. He had no idea this small-town soda would eventually keep a Chicago brewery in business during the Prohibition, inspire a famous rock song, and go on to be one of the most popular sodas in the country.
What is Green River Soda?
An instant hit, the bright green line-flavored soda was created first as a soda fountain syrup you mixed with carbonated water. In 1919 the syrup was sold to the Schoenhofen Edelweiss Brewing Company of Chicago. Prior to Prohibition the brewing company produced Edelweiss beer but turned to packaging soft drinks in old beer bottles to survive when alcohol production was halted. According to Atlas Obscura, the soda was the second-most popular carbonated beverage in the Midwest, after Coca-Cola from the 1930s to 1950s.
The brewery shut down production in 1950, however other manufacturers picked up the soda to keep the brand alive. Today WIT Beverage of Chicago manufactures the original soda with natural lime flavoring and cane sugar.
Every year you can see the lime soda jump in popularity during St. Patrick's Day due to its vivid green color. According to Thrillist, the brand makes about 30% of its annual sales during the four to five weeks that surround St. Patty's Day.
It's All in a Song
"An if you get lost come on home to Green River / Well, come home." Written by John Fogerty and performed by Creedence Clearwater Revival, the song "Green River" was actually inspired by a bottle of Green River soda.
During a 1993 Rolling Stones interview, John Fogerty shared that the specific "Green River" reference was from a lemon lime soda pop-syrup label he used to see in the soda fountain. According to John, it was one of his favorite flavors.
Where To Find Green River Soda
While up to a short ago you could only get the soda in the Midwest, today the power of the internet is shipping this nostalgic soda across the world.
Drink it with a cup of ice or make it into an ice cream float with a scoop of vanilla ice cream just like at the Drive-in. Caffeine free, and served in glass bottles, this Green River soda is truly all American.