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Knockoff soft drink names, ranked

You know those similar-sounding soda names you see at the grocery store? It’s time to rank them in groups.

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.

7. Coca-Cola

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.

Have I erred? Did I miss an important soft drink family? Please fix the problem in the comments.