Sun Drop Is a Citrus Drink With Southern Roots
It’s important to stay hydrated during those long Southern heat waves and despite some folks’ best efforts, it’s hard to survive on sweet tea alone. Luckily, the South has a lot of homegrown drink options to choose from, including soft drinks from giants like Pepsi, Coca-Cola, and Dr. Pepper, and local favorites like Cheerwine and Sun Drop. If you don’t know the last one, well, it’s worth a deep dive into your local store’s cooler to dig one out.
Sun Drop is an “exhilarating citrus soda” made with spring water and orange juice and packing more caffeine than Mountain Dew. The name Sun Drop dates back to 1928 when St. Louis business man Charles Lazier came up with the brilliant idea for a citrus-flavored drink years before Sprite and Sierra Mist lined store shelves. According to the company’s history, Lazier took his drink to the next level in 1949 when the idea for a caffeinated version struck him while he was “riding around St Louis in the family car.” He “scribbled a recipe for a new soft drink on a small piece of paper, which he handed to his son, Charles Jr. The younger Lazier worked as a lab technician at his father's plant, and soon began work on the formula.” It took him two years to perfect the lemon, lime, and orange flavored-soda with the coffee-like punch and in 1951, Sun Drop debuted at the American Bottlers of Carbonated Beverages Conference in Washington, D.C.
The new soda was a smash hit, particularly in the South thanks to pitchmen like NASCAR legend Dale Earnhardt and bottling plants in North Carolina and Tennessee. It was so popular that the plant in Pulaski, Tennessee, changed its name to the SunDrop Bottling Co., because making Sun Drop soda was keeping it so busy.
For years, though, it was only Southerners who were able to enjoy the “giant pipeline of refreshment” promised by the company’s slogan. Because of its limited distribution, Sun Drop fans who made the bad choice to leave the South had to come up with inventive ways to get their Sun Drop fix, sometimes even hauling months-long supplies across state lines in the trunks of their hatchbacks or begging family members to send them bottles. “Families have shipped it off to soldiers serving in Afghanistan; fans swap recipes for holiday turkey with Sun Drop glaze,” the Wall Street Journal wrote. In addition to traditional Sun Drop, there’s also a Cherry Lemon Citrus flavor and diet and caffeine-versions of the drink.Today,
Sun Drop is part of the Plano, Texas-based Dr Pepper Snapple Group and in 2010, they decided to share one of the South’s greatest secrets and ship Sun Drop across the country. Thanks to the shipping expansion, soda lovers across the country have been able finally enjoy one of the South’s favorite sodas, Sun Drop.