23 March, 2009

Hey Song Sarsaparilla

Sarsaparilla soda was a favorite treat when I was a kid. Back then, there were still lots of small regional bottling companies that sold their own varieties and flavors of soda, and it was easy to find.

As it turns out, though, the 1970's were actually the sunset years for most local bottlers. High sugar prices, increased transportation costs for their heavy returnable glass bottles, and the inability to afford the same massive amounts of advertising as the Big Guys forced many of them to close or shrink into obscurity while the huge super-supermarkets gave shelf space only to a handful of
national brands. Until I started poking around in the beverage section at Dong's Asian Supermarket, I hadn't seen real sarsaparilla for years.

Hey Song's Sarsaparilla is pretty decent; it's close enough to what I remember as a kid to satisfy my sarsaparilla jones, though I think there might be a little something missing from this formulation (birch oil, maybe? vanilla?) Still, the familiar herbal scent is there, and the big root-beery start fades to a touch of medicinal bitterness at the end. Very refreshing and not too sweet (though this soda is sugar-sweetened.) If you can find it, give it a try.

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2 comments:

Stephanie in Shanghai said...

I know you didn't ask, but the first two characters on that can mean "black pine". I thought that was interesting.

Also, have you heard of a soda brand called F&N Seasons? The flavor I got is called Grass Jelly?

I saw it at the imported food store near me and I bought a can cuz it just seemed too weird not to.

Sonia Metheny said...

I've been slowly trying out bizarre looking beverages at my local chinese supermarket, and thanks to this post I noticed a six pack of Hey Song and grabbed it!
I was surprised that I actually liked it! Thanks for the recommendation, it's definitely not something I'd normally grab.