Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Dr. Brown's Cel-Ray Soda

That there's some old New York there for you.

Dr. Brown's Cel-Ray Soda

It'd been a long time since I had Cel-Ray soda. I used to buy the stuff when I first came to NYC, I sort of remember liking it. I also remember it being a lot more common.

The taste has little to do with celery, more like a mix of orange and lemon juice with a slightly burned taste. Not the horrible corn syrup burn, but an honest burned taste. Almost smokey. Sadly, smokey isn't a taste that is that great in a soda.

Maybe, just maybe, there is a celery taste in there. It's more of a celery seed taste, a guerilla taste that runs in and out of detectability, causing mischief and possibly unhappiness. The ingredients list claims there are extract of celery seeds in the hills, and I think I believe 'em.

Mulling it over, I think it tastes like what we called a "suicide" when I was growing up. You'd mix together all the stuff at the fountain, and then drink it. I think I enjoyed this, but maybe I was just caving to peer pressure. I love to cave to peer pressure, it means my peers are paying attention to me.

Cel-Ray burps up like a mild orange soda.

This sad thing was on the counter at the Juniors
where I bought the soda.
I feel like it's a goodbye note from a girlfriend.

I am writing this article at seven AM in Grand Central, waiting for a train. Every time I mistype "soda" my iPhone corrects it to "dog" or "dogs". What does my iPhone know that I don't? Lots of things, like why it such a shitty piece of equipment.

But as a I write, I find myself growing more introspective. I am willing to admit that I cringe a little more at each taste. With this growing snowball of dislike I have also come to realize the secret flavor analog to Cel-Ray soda: Waffle Crisp cereal. There is totally a maple waffle flavor in Dr. Brown's Cel-Ray, and nobody likes drinking maple syrup. Not even me. Wait, Captain K'nuckles and Flapjack do, but they're cartoon characters and don't count for as much as real people.

Waffle Crisp + orange juice + celery seeds = Cel-Ray.

Part of me wonders if the can needed a good mix-up before I drank it, or if the flavor is just confusing and broad.

Follow up: I went out an bought some Waffle Crisp. It is totally and completely the same taste, but better because it's not a carbonated drink. And a little not better because it sandpapers off the roof of your mouth..

I suppose Waffle Crisp actually tastes like Cel-Ray,
considereing which came first...


  1. Maybe the maple taste is from being in a CAN! What is Cel-Ray tonic doing in a can? It must be in a bottle!

  2. Gotta question your logic there. Nothing I know of that comes in a can, except Cel-Ray, tastes like maple syrup. On the other hand, maple syrup tastes like maple syrup and it always comes in bottles...

    Seriously though, I've never in my entire life seen a bottle of this stuff.

  3. I found it in small bottle form at a fancy pants grocery store in Phoenix. I only drank it once, but it tasted to me like chewing celery seeds (a lot of them) and drinking a Sprite or 7-Up at the same time. I didn't get any of the exotic flavors that you did. Of course, people on this side of the country weren't raised on the stuff, so "nasty as it wanna be" is still my description of it.
    If you check around on various websites, you'll find people who consider themselves more refined if they like it and you don't. They always mention pastrami when going on about how great they and their crappy celery pop is.

  4. Sadly, part of my game with this review site is specifically not doing any research. I don't get to read snotty pastrami blogs, though I do love pastrami. Personally, I wouldn't draw a bridge between pastrami and this stuff unless it was for Julius Kniple, Real Estate Photographer (a comic character who wanders around a very Jewish New York, drawn by Ben Katchor).

    Get it, drawing a bridge?

    But I can imagine this being an acquired flavor, and appreciating gross shit is always a sign of cultural sophistication.

  5. I saw it in a bottle in a deli in the 1970s, honestly! :)