Why Southerners Will Always Love 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.)

What's the History of Big Red?

Founded in Waco, Texas, in 1937, Big Red soda is a Lone Star staple. 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 Does Big Red Taste Like?

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.

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—glass will always taste better.

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