by Grace Evans for dish cooking studio, a ‘Certified Good Food Fighter

I wore shorts last Thursday. Last Thursday was March 22. Technically the second day of spring, but still a date that typically includes snow removal, puffy winter coats and antifreeze.

Since summer is on our doorstep, the ladies at dish think it’s time for some homemade sodas on the menu!

To make soda, all you need is a tall glass of ice, some homemade syrup and carbonated water. Sometimes called an Italian soda, you can get one of these from Starbucks, Second Cup or many independent cafes, but they’ll likely be using Torani syrups, which include preservatives, artificial flavours and sweeteners. Supposedly there is nothing Italian about this kind of soda, but the idea of serving flavoured syrups and carbonated water over ice originated with two Italian immigrants, who just happened to be the founders of Torani. For more on this history check out Darcy O’Neil’s blog Art of Drink.

By the 1840s, flavoured seltzers had become a standard item in drugstore soda fountains in the United States. It was around the turn of the century that Coca-Cola, Pepsi-Cola, and other soda companies began experimenting with recipes, registering trademarks and opening production facilities. In fact, in 1890 a pharmacist named John J. McLaughlin opened a small production plant in Toronto to bottle Canada Dry Ginger Ale. From there competing brands and products developed and technology advanced in the forms of crown bottle caps, six-pack cardboard cartons and stay-on pull tabs for aluminum cans.

As foods came to include more artificial ingredients and be more processed, so did soda. In 1984 all of the sugar in Coke and Pepsi was replaced with high-fructose corn syrup, as a result of high sugar prices and low corn prices in the early 80’s. Since 1980 both soda giants have been replacing sugar with saccharin, aspartame, acesulfame potassium or high-fructose corn syrup. In recent years Pepsi has issued a “Throwback” line of softdrinks, including both Pepsi and Mountain Dew in retro packaging and made with real cane sugar, and there is a cult following behind Mexican Coke, which is made with cane sugar and is available in some grocers across the States.

dish soda is made fresh with cane sugar and real ingredients. Our first homemade soda for the season is Lavender White Grape, made with cane sugar. Come try our first batch and tell us what you think!

You can also see how to make your own here at Sugar and Charm.