Memories of Brookdale Soda, pride of the Garden State

By Anthony Buccino

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When I was a kid, I called the fruit punch flavor 'blood' and the cherry pit flavor tickled and chilled my chest after a hard day of play.


(July 22, 1976) -- I never drank milk except in coffee when I was a kid. That was back in the days when milkmen made house calls. In our neighborhood on Gless Avenue in Belleville, New Jersey, we had strong young fellows who delivered our 12-pack cases of Brookdale soda bottles.

Brookdale Soda ad, captured by Bobby Cole

The men, strong and sure, gripped the cases, one in each hand and lugged our soda up the stairs to our second floor apartment.

I remember those big strong young men and the quiet summers on a dead end street.

It's funny, here, now, so many years later, how this old soda bottle brings me back home…

We drink Brookdale soda in my house. It's the only kind we buy. It says right on every bottle, "Pride of the Garden State."

It satisfies better than the TV-hyped soda and it's the soda pop I grew up with.

When I was a kid, I called the fruit punch flavor 'blood' and the cherry pit flavor tickled and chilled my chest after a hard day of play.

On my first visit to Ashtabula, Ohio, the summer dog day afternoon sun dried me out.

"Soda, please?" I asked my new friends. I waited for them to break out the Brookdale.

My throat was parched. My kingdom for a glass of Brookdale soda, I thought.

In the land of Buckeyes, where they think the Garden State has something to do with Eden, the place, not the TV star, I got a very, very tall glass of club soda!

Yuk! It tasted like the sands of Iwo Jima. What made matters worse was, it wasn't even Brookdale! How foreign can you get?

Brookdale soda, club soda bottle, photo copyright Anthony Buccino, All rights reserved.

So, if you're ever out that way and the water doesn't fancy your suit, don't ask, "Soda, please?" Unless you're on a new diet.

I should put in to collect hazard pay for attempting to put ice in my Brookdale soda.

Lately, as my adulthood approaches, I've flavored Kola flavor. It's not cola, or un-cola, it's Kola! And I think it tastes best with lots of ice in a tall glass.

Every time I open the freezer door, a rock hard package of Sara Lee's dessert crashes onto my bare feet.

I won't say I'm a slow learner, but after about the fourth time around, I tried moving back with the freezer door when I opened it for the ice.

Good idea, right? I thought so, but that crumb cake was smarter than that.

It waited until I stepped around to get the tray, then it crashed. I put some ice in a glass and the rest on my foot.

If it keeps up like this, the soda made from artesian well water may just be my downfall.

Unless, and I just thought of this, unless I put the whole bottle in the freezer, then I won't have to get the ice!

Hmmmm, that sounds like a cool, safe idea for a hot summer night, doesn't it?

But I better remember the bottle or I'll really have something to write the folks in Ashtabula about.

I just remembered that those sealed bottles tend to explode when they freeze.

I grew up with that too, on the back porch, in the cold, cold winter nights in Belleville, New Jersey.


Adapted from: A FATHER'S PLACE An eclectic collection By Anthony Buccino

Published by
Cherry Blossom Press
PO Box 110252
Nutley NJ 07110

© 1976 by Anthony Buccino

Also included in GREETINGS FROM BELLEVILLE, NEW JERSEY, Collected Writings


First printed: The Independent Press of Bloomfield, 7/22/76, Moreau Newspapers (Worrall Community Newspapers)

Online pages are adapted from published versions.


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New Jersey author Anthony Buccino's stories of the 1960s, transit coverage and other writings earned four Society of Professional Journalists Excellence in Journalism awards.

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