What is Grapico – and Why Southerners Love it So Much
For more than 100 years the South has held onto a major secret: It’s actually home to the tastiest grape soda on earth.
For more than 100 years the South has held onto a major secret: It’s actually home to the tastiest grape soda on earth. And it goes by the name of Grapico.
Grapico is a hidden gem you’ll likely only find in the South. First sold in New Orleans, it can now be found across Louisiana and Alabama. Though the recipe and company were sold to Buffalo Rock, an independent Pepsi bottler, it still maintains the same flavor as it did way back then.
According to City-Data, the drink was first concocted by Louisiana-based J. Grossman's Sons in 1914. Then the recipe consisted of syrup and soda water. When combined, it tasted just like grape juice.
In 1916, the soda became so popular that J. Grossman's Sons even commissioned a song about the soda titled, Meet Me in the Land of Grapico. According to AL.com, the lyrics went, “Grapico, Grapico, land that I love far away. Grapico, Grapico, that’s where my thoughts often stray.”
In 1917, the production of Grapicio moved to Alabama and has been produced there ever since. The popularity of the drink skyrocketed thanks to some less than truthful advertising, which claimed it was made with real grapes. Though, as City-Data noted, “The product was artificially colored and flavored with only an infinitesimal amount of grape juice or fruit of the grape.”
But, this fact doesn’t matter to real Grapicio purists, who will enjoy it just the same. As to why Grapico is still such a beloved drink it may come down to the taste, or simply because it is a Southern point of pride to know that it’s theirs, and nobody else's.
So, what does this drink really taste like? Serious Eats writer Jed Portman described it best:
“Dark purple and light on fizz, Grapico is so loaded with sugar and artificial coloring that, with a spoon more of either, it just might harden into candy. The flavor is an artificial grape to rival all others, rich as that of a grape lollipop and just about as sweet. In the depth of its sweetness, the drink approaches the faux-chocolate flavor of the Tootsie Rollall in all, it tastes like nothing so much as a grape Tootsie Pop.”
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And if that doesn’t quench your thirst on a warm Southern summer day nothing will. Though, if you’re really hankering for a can you can get one no matter where you live. All you need to do is dig up a 12-pack on Amazon.