Why Southerners Will Always Have a Soft Spot for Big Red, the Texas Soda That's Been Around Since 1937

There’s nothing quite like this colorful cream soda.

Big Red Soda
Photo: Southern Living

For many Southerners growing up, the best afternoon treat was to be taken to the roadside store and allowed to choose any fizzy, ice-cold glass bottle out of the refrigerated section, which would be filled with all of the familiar classics, such as Coca-Cola, Dr Pepper, and a bright red concoction that both puzzles and delights: Big Red. (No, it's not like Cheerwine.) See what all the hype is about for this legendary sweet Texas soda, and no doubt you'll want a Big Red to go with your next barbecue plate.

What's the History of Big Red?

Founded in Waco, Texas, in 1937, Big Red soda is a Lone Star staple. Originally named Sun Tang Red Cream Soda, the beverage became known as Big Red in the 1960s. In the 1970s, the drink’s popularity spread across the South when it became available outside of Texas.

What Does Big Red Taste Like?

While it's hard to put your finger exactly on what it tastes like—part of the appeal, no doubt—it's basically a cream soda. A vivacious, colorful cream soda that's saccharinely sweet and flavored with orange and lemon oils, instead of the cherry or berry that people assume due to its color. The vibrant red hue can be attributed to dye added during production.

What Is Big Red?

Ask anyone who's ever had a Big Red, and they'll tell you that there is nothing like it. It doesn't enjoy the same versatility as a plain bubbly Coca-Cola or spiced Dr Pepper. It's louder. It requires a hankering for something creamy, fruity, and sweet enough to pucker your taste buds. It's perfect on a hot, sweaty summer day in the South or perhaps alongside a tray of slow-cooked barbecue and fixings. (You might even find it offered at some of Texas' best barbecue joints.) Once the craving hits, no other soda will satiate it.

Luckily, you can still shop Big Red at many convenience and grocery stores, though the glass bottles are much harder to find. It's worth the search, though—the soda from the bottle will always taste better.

And while you're on the hunt, search for other big flavors like Big Blue, Big Peach, and Big Pineapple.

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