The extremely basic rules:
- I’ve attempted to pile all popular American soft drinks into seven genres.
- Each soda family will be judged by the entirety of its poetry. One great knockoff name alone will not be enough to carry a whole taxonomy to victory.
- I’m going by brands that have been readily available in the United States, recognizing that international markets also have many other incredible name variations.
Ranked last, simply because it’s too many to pore through, and because most sellers just call their house brands “cola.” Sooo many of these over the last 130-something years, though, including King Cola, Koca-Nola, Koke, My-Coca-Co, Taka-Cola, RC, and Pepsi.
6. Root beer
Invented long ago by Native Americans, meaning just about all store-bought brands are knockoffs. Here is Wikipedia’s list of root beer brands, and I’m not taking the time to remove all these links:
1919, A&W, Abita, B&K, Barq’s, Barrelhead, Berghof, fBerks County, Big Ben’s, Blue Sky, Boylan, Bundaberg, Capt’n Eli’s, Chicago, Dad’s, Dog n Suds, Dominion, Dr. Brown’s. Faygo, Filbert’s, Fitz’s, Frostie, Frostop, Goose Island, Grandpa Graf’s, Hank’s, Henry Weinhard’s, Hires, Hosmer Mountain, IBC, Jones, Mason’s, Mug, Nanton, Nehi, Point, The Pop Shoppe, Ramblin’, Saranac, Sarsi, Sea Dog, Shasta, Sioux City, Sprecher, Stewart’s, Ted’s, Thomas Kemper, Tommyknockers, Towne Club, Twin Lights, Virgil’s, White Rock, and Zevia.
Some of these are fine names, and the general style seems to be Named After Some White Guy, which is, well, on-brand for things that were just copied from indigenous peoples.
5. 7 Up
Sprite (yep!), Kick, Mist Twist, Sierra Mist, and ... yeah, people just usually call their versions “Lemon-Lime.”
4. Ginger ale
Allegedly of Northern Irish origin. Again, just doing the Wiki thing:
Ale-8-One, Barritt’s, Blenheim, Boylan, Buffalo Rock, Bundaberg, Canada Dry, Catawissa, Crabbie’s, Dr. Brown’s, Fentimans, Fitz’s, Foxon Park, Polar, Red Rock, Reed’s, Schweppes, Seagram’s, Sprecher, Stewart’s, Stoney, Sussex Golden, Vernors, Vess, and White Rock.
3. General fruit
Ancient origins, but among drinks still widely sold in America, Crush appears to be the oldest major brand.
We also have Fanta, Sunkist, Slice, Tango, Bubble Up, Dr. Brown’s, Fitz’s, Jarritos, Cheerwine, Izze, and tons more.
This is a fuzzy group, because how could someone claim to have invented drinking fruit? Fruit sodas have pretty good names, and I don’t think we can really accuse anybody of copying anybody in particular. Like fruit itself, this group is too chill for all that hostility.
2. Dr. Pepper
So many good ones, we once pretended all of college football’s bowl season was sponsored by unlicensed Doctors Pepper:
Doc Shasta Rose Bowl
Dr. Publix Sugar Bowl
Doctor Thunder Cotton Bowl
Licensed Chiropractor Spice Fiesta Bowl
Dr. Thirst Orange Bowl
Dr. Dentist Peach Bowl
Mr. Pibb Alamo Bowl
Dr. Slurp Armed Forces Bowl
Dr. Viscous Bahamas Bowl
St. Doctor St. Petersburg Bowl
Mr. Pig Belk Bowl
Dr. Demento Boca Raton Bowl
Dr. Bronner’s Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl
Dr. Jerry Punch Camelia Bowl
Dr. Seethe Capital One Bowl
Dr. James Andrews Compass Bowl
Dr. Seth Lieberman, MD, Gastroenterologist Pizza Bowl
Dr. Pain Potato Bowl
Dr. Giggles Gator Bowl
Dr Pepper 10 GoDaddy Bowl
Dr. Chek Hawaii Bowl
Diet Dr. K Heart of Dallas Bowl
Doc Holiday Holiday Bowl
Dr. Cheaper Independence Bowl
Doctor Who Season 7 Fight Hunger Bowl
Dr. Phil Las Vegas Bowl
#DoctorBrand Liberty Bowl
Dr. Atkins Miami Beach Bowl
Dock Ellis Military Bowl
Dr. Seuss Music City Bowl
Texas Fizz New Mexico Bowl
Dr. Bo New Orleans Bowl
Dr. Hy-Vee Outback Bowl
Funk Doc Pinstripe Bowl
Doctor Doom Poinsettia Bowl
Dr. Nipsey Russell Athletic Bowl
Doctor Lou Sun Bowl
Dr. Welp Texas Bowl
Some of those are allegedly fake. Some.
1. Mountain Dew
So many, all excellent.
Mountain Holler, Mountain Moondrops, Mountain Shoutin, Mountain Explosion, Mt. Chill, Mountain Yeller, Mountain Lightning, Mountain Mania, Mountain Maze, Kountry Mist, Moon Mist, Mello Yello, Mountain Charge, Fountain Mist, Mountain Breeze, Mountain Shower, Kickapoo Joy Juice, SURGE, Hillbilly Holler, HEEE HAW, literally just Moon Shine, and on and on. I made up nothing.
I think this one has so many great alts because:
- The Mountain Dew flavor is not simple to explain (“What flavor is a Flamin’ Hot Cheeto?” “Hot.”), leaving plenty of room for poetry.
- The whole Appalachian anarchy aesthetic is so easy to play off of.
The BACKWOODS REVELRY theme also squares amazingly with the Extended Dewniverse’s actual primary constituency: gamers and skateboarders who probably do not live in the woods.