15 Vintage Soft Drinks that Refreshed a Generation of Filipinos
In the 50s, 60s, and 70s, one of the best ways to cool off was to go to your nearest sari-sari store and pick up a five- or 10-centavo bottle of your favorite soft drink. There was Sunta, if you wanted an orange soda, Bireley’s if it was choco-milk you wanted, or for a crisp, lemony kick—Hi-Spot. These vintage soft drink brands, unfortunately, are no longer available here, but in the good old times, they refreshed a generation of young folks in any season.
Vintage Soft Drinks
You could say the first vintage soft drinks were the carbonated waters from natural mineral springs. By the 13th century, soft drink drinkers were adding various herbs and fruit to give them flavor. The marketing of soft drinks—at the time, a non-carbonated mix of lemon and water—began in the 1600s, and in 1676 the Compagnie de Limonadiers was formed in Paris and granted a monopoly for the sale of the products. The more modern soft drink came later during this period after attempts to copy the effervescent quality of springs (supposedly for its therapeutic value).
Various studies on gas and carbonation later, English clergyman and scientist Joseph Priestley demostrated how a pump could help impregnate water with fixed air. Thus, the invention of soda water. From there, the history of soft drinks and soda just grew to become the beverage we can't live without today.
The success of the soft drink industry has created more and more flavors and varieties, from clear, zero-calorie Cokes to homemade cream sodas, but it's also been brutal on those that can't keep up (it's the same story for beer). Here's a tribute to the vintage soft drinks we grew up with.
Avenue beverages were manufactured in the 1950s by Avenue Aerated Water Co., in Grace Park, Caloocan. This 1956 print ad lists six tasty Avenue flavors: Red Berry, Orange, Sarsaparilla, Cream Soda, and Pineapple. This vintage soft drink brand sold for 10 centavos per bottle and remained available all through the '60s.
2| Apple Sidra
First introduced in the Philippines in 1969, Apple Sidra was first bottled by Oceanic Beverages in 1965. Philippine bottles bear markings that show that this vintage soft drink was bottled by Apple Sidra Corp, based in Parañaque, Rizal under the authority of Cosco International Corp. of Chicago, Illinois. The unique carbonated apple-flavored drink became popular in the 1970s, such that Yes Cola, was soon launched after, from the same company. Apple Sidra today is Taiwanese-owned and is still available in parts of Asia as a canned drink.
Led by its nutritious, sterilized Chocolate milk made from 100-percent, non-fat milk solids, Bireley's was another mid-'50s drink that was hugely popular among Filipinos. It was made available through the Bireley’s California Orange Ltd., with offices in Manila and Cebu. Aside from chocolate, Bireley’s had Orange, Grape, and Pineade flavors, all non-carbonated. Bireley’s was originally made in 1930, beginning with the orange soda drink, a pasteurized fruit drink made from blended fruit juices. These vintage soft drinks are no longer available in the Philippines, but are still manufactured in Thailand and Japan.
4| Clicquot Club
Clicquot Club was first produced in 1881 in Massachusetts, as a sparkling cider by LaCroix Fruit Farm. It was named “Clicquot,” after the French Champagne “Veuve Clicquot.” After The Clicquot company was formed, the apple cider was dropped, in favor of a new drink—the Clicquot Club Ginger Ale. Other flavors include Cream Soda, Strawberry, Orange, Rootbeer, Lemon & Lime, and Grape. Its “Eskimo Boy” mascot became one of the most recognizable brand characters in the U.S. This vintage soda was distributed internationally in the 1950s, which led to its Philippine launch. Rafael Yabut‘s Tayo’y Mag-aliw radio program, aired over DZRH, promoted the product in a segment called “Clicquot’s Tayo’y Uminom Program.” Clicquot Club was gone by the early 1960s; the company was eventually bought by the Cott Beverage Corporation of Connecticut in 1969.
5| Goody Root Beer
Goody Root Beer was produced by the U.S.-based Goody Company Minneapolis. F.F. Halili Enterprises in Balintawak acquired the license to bottle this vintage soda favorite, and it was distributed by Mission Beverages in the Philippines. This Goody 1960 ad promises to give drinkers drinkers “the full feel of refreshment…tingling all the way down!”
6| Green Spot
Vintage soft drink brand Green Spot was founded in 1934 with the mission to produce a quality fruit juice drink concentrate using only the freshest ingredients. The first product was the unique tasty Orangeade, which caught on very quickly. Following the success of Orangeade, additional flavors like Grape, Fruit Punch, and Lemonade were soon introduced.
Canada Dry Beverages, which was founded in 1923 by P.D. Saylor and Associates, reached the country in the 1950s when the Canada Dry Bottling Co. of the Philippines was put up in Parañaque, Rizal, by authority of the Canada International Corp. New York, U.S.A. One of its short-lived soft drinks that was launched here was Hi-Spot Lemon Soda, a bubbly, sparkling lemony soft drink introduced in 1965. Hi-Spot was overshadowed by more popular Canada Dry products like Uva, Tru-Fruit Orange, Kola Champagne, so production was discontinued.
Ideal Softdrinks was a local soda brand that was manufactured by Ideal Aerated Water Company, with a plant located in Paco, Manila. Ideal was available in a variety of flavors like Sarsaparilla, Strawberry, and Cream Soda.
Orange KIST was first produced in 1929 by the Citrus Products Co. of Chicago (founded in 1919), which also made Stone Mountain Ginger Ale and Blue Bird Grape. But it was Kist that became its lead product, and was soon distributed internationally. One of the most memorable vintage sodas in the Philippines, Kist Softdrinks were made locally available when Olivenza Softdrinks Factory of Mira Mira Hermanos Inc., based in Makati, Rizal was given the authorized license from Citrus Products Co., Chicago, Illinois.
Another vintage soft drink bottled by Olivenza Softdrinks Factory was Quinabeer, which is like root beer, but with a taste that comes from “exquisite fruit and quinine.” Quinine is used to flavor beverages like bitter lemon and tonic water.
The independent vintage soft drink company from Chicago gave the world a drink in 1946 with an interesting name—O-SO. It actually started with its O-SO Grape Flavor, and many fruity favors were added later. Sales sailed through the roof that O-SO was soon wanted by the international market. In '50s Philippines, it was bottled by M. De Lara Co. Inc. O-SO was briefly enjoyed in the islands who, true to its slogan, found it “O-SO good” and “O-SO delicious!”
12| Royal Lem-O-Lime
The sparkling lemon-and-lime citrus soda was produced by the Royal line of softdrinks put up by San Miguel Brewery in 1922. Its lead product was Royal Tru-Orange, a flavor that's still around. A true vintage soft drink is the Royal Lem-O-Lime, which was launched in 1969 and tasted like 7-Up with a dash of citrus. It was part of a line of cool, lemony drinks that included Royal Lemon, Royal Soda, and Tonic. Royal Lem-o-Lime had a great start in the market, and was available throughout the '70s.
One of the more popular makers of soda brands in the Philippines was the Manila Aerated Water Factory, founded in 1918 by Wong Ning, a Guangdong immigrant. After his death during WWII, his eldest child—Henry Gao-Hong Wong—rebuilt the business and renamed it as Cosmos Bottling Corp. in 1945. Its main product was a flavored beverage called Cosmos Sarsaparilla. In 1972, it produced an orange soda called Sunta, which enjoyed some following (this vintage soft drink is dearly remembered), until the business floundered after Henry Wong’s death. RFM acquired the company in 1989.
Tru-Ade Orange soft drink was developed in 1938 by Lee C. Ward in Los Angeles, California, and the brand name was trademarked a year later. It was originally created from orange juice concentrate, which required pasteurization. This vintage soda brand was most popular on the U.S. East Coast. A local company acquired the license to bottle the product—Tru-Ade Philippine Island Inc.—which produced the 7 oz. orange soda.
The Canada Dry bottles all featured the map of Canada on a shield, topped by a crown, in reference to the drink’s appointment to the Viceregal Household of the Governor General of Canada in 1907. When it ventured into soft drink production, only one bottle was used for its beverages. Uva, a grape-flavored soft drink, was launched in 1960, and proved to be the most successful fruit soda brand for the company.