Cream Soda is one of the soft drinks which is most reduced to its three main components: water, sugar, and caffiene. In the case of cream soda, the only other ingredients are 'Sodium Benzonate', caramel color, vanilla, citric acid (to make it taste bitter like soda), and 'natural and artificial flavors', the latter of which is just inserted to take into account anything like rat feces or oleander leaves which may have fallen in during processing.

A delicious drink which is a bit of a wildcard - the taste and appearance of cream soda varies widely from brand to brand. What they all have in common, however, are the properties of being incredibly sweet, slightly vanilla-tasting, and very foamy.

Many generic brands of cream soda - like the kind with supermarket names like hy-vee cream soda - are clear. barq's famous red cream soda, is, as its name implies, red. A&W cream soda is yellow - I like that because you can put it in a glass and, because of appearance, people think you are drinking beer, and stop asking you if you want beer.

cream soda is, unfortunately, not widely available - I have yet to see a fountain carry cream soda, and supermarkets stock very little, and run out frequently.

None of these people have said why it's called cream soda! Well, I found out, and I also found out why you don't get brands of cream soda in soda fountains.

A "fountain" cream soda doesn't actually come from a fountain, and is just so much better than a "bottled" one, and is made on-site in a cup instead of mixed by a machine. A real cream soda is rather close to its name: seltzer water, a flavored syrup (most commonly vanilla), and cream. It is extremely good, and you can get it in some coffee shops. (I got mine at The Daily Grind in Statesboro, Georgia.) Putting a brand of "cream soda" in a fountain would be a monstrous travesty, as bottles of the stuff are only simulations anyway - the cream would probably go bad on the shelf if it were real. Not that soda companies are in any way adverse to the concept of monstrous travesties.

I was a bit of a bottled cream soda fanatic until I tasted one of these. Now, the manufactured stuff may suffice for a while, but it's gotta be the real drink for me, even with the typical coffee house charge doubling or trebling the price.

Bah, no EXCUSE for over-priced coffee house or beverage stand prices for real Cream Soda. Carbonated beverages really aren't too terribly difficult to make, as I've recently discovered. The biggest issue is storage. Here's one interpretation of Cream Soda.

Cream Soda

Makes a whole lot (about 130 oz. or so)

Simmer 2 quarts of water, the cinnamon bark, the vanilla bean, the raisins, and the sugar for about twenty minutes.

Take it off the heat, and add the cream of tartar. This would also be a good time to add any syrups, oils, or essences you'd like (mint, wintergreen, strawberry, whatever).

Cover it, and let it cool for about half and hour. Strain the mix into a large glass jug (or a carboy), and add the remaining 2 quarts of cool water. Hydrate the yeast with the lukewarm water, then add it to the jug.

Bottle the soda, then store in a dark, temperature stable place, like the basement. Check it's carbonation after two days, and don't let it work for more than three. Refrigerate once it's good and fizzy.

When serving, put a dollop of fresh table cream at the bottom of a glass, then pour in the soda. I guess you could do the soda first, then the cream, but that'd just be crazy.

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