You’ve seen it in your local deli’s fridges but never dared to venture into the world of the Dr. Brown’s Soda variety.
What is this fizzy mystery of the century-old bubbles that tickle your interest?
Has it prickled your senses? Are your flavor buds intrigued? It started as a celery health concoction and was transformed into an age-old refreshing drink.
Throughout the years, Dr. Brown’s has stood the test of time and proven a worthy survivor.
Who Makes Dr. Brown’s Soda?
Dr. Brown: genuine or not genuine? The story starts with a homeopathic celery tonic made by the New York City Physician – Dr. Brown, whose first name is lost to history.
The sweet mixture given out at pharmacies was quite the hit.
The inventive Dr. Brown started marketing it alongside a friend at a bottling company.
During the startup years, the beverage was sold by kosher delis and door-to-door soda salesmen on the Lower East Side.
There isn’t a lot of documentation on who originally produced and bottled the soda.
The early years seem to align in mystery with the elusive Dr. Brown.
Schoneberger & Noble soft drink company on Water Street in Manhattan first commercially produced Dr. Brown’s Soda in 1886.
The company progressively expanded the variety of Dr. Brown’s Soda flavors as the popularity grew.
Schoneberger & Noble merged with The Carl Schultz Corp. and Brownie Corp. in 1928 and formed The American Beverage Corp.
The aim was to market the collective brands nationwide and cover a more extensive base.
After a few more added flavor varieties and a significant logo and packaging design change, Canada Dry bottling company bought Dr. Brown’s Soda in 1982.
This change in ownership allowed a shift in the brand’s distribution strategy, from being sold only in smaller deli-type kosher shops along the east coast to being distributed by major supermarket chains across the country.
In 2014, Dr. Brown’s Soda had divided ownership.
The recipe remained the original from way back. Still, the cans were produced in Queens by Canada Dry/Pepsi bottling company.
The J&R bottling company of southern California produced the glass bottle variety.
LA Bottleworks took over the bottling rights from L&R Bottling and has ever since been the sole provider of 12oz Dr. Brown’s Soda. PepsiCo’s New York bottling plant produces the rest of the Dr. Brown’s Soda varieties.
The Honickman Beverage Group owns the Dr. Brown’s brand.
Does Dr Brown’s Soda Have Caffeine?
Sometimes caffeine is just the kick your system needs, but it’s not always a great choice of ingredient for everyone.
The excellent news is that Dr. Brown’s range of sodas doesn’t contain any caffeine and is safe to drink by the whole family at any time of the day!
For reference, see the below summary of the ingredients and nutritional information of each flavor.
Ingredients: carbonated water, high fructose corn syrup, citric acid, extract of celery seed with other natural flavors, sodium benzoate, and caramel color.
Nutrition Info: calories 140; total fat 0g; sodium 10mg; total carbs 34 g; sugars 34g; protein 0g.
Brown’s Cream Soda
Ingredients: carbonated water, high fructose corn syrup, natural and artificial flavors, sodium benzoate, citric acid, and caramel color.
Nutrition Info: calories 180; total fat 0g; sodium 25mg; total carbs 44g; sugars 44g; protein 0g.
Brown’s Diet Cream Soda Ingredients
carbonated water, natural and artificial flavors, aspartame, sodium benzoate, and caramel color.
Nutrition Info: calories 0; total fat 0g; sodium 25mg; total carbs 0g; sugars 0g; protein 0g.
Browns Black Cherry
Ingredients: carbonated water, high fructose corn syrup, cherry, and other natural flavors, citric acid, sodium benzoate, and artificial color (red #40).
Nutrition Info: calories 180; total fat 0g; sodium 25mg; total carbs 45g; sugars 45g; protein 0g.
Brown’s Diet Black Cherry Soda
Ingredients: carbonated water, cherry, and other natural flavors, malic acid, aspartame, sodium benzoate, sodium citrate, caramel color, and artificial color (red #40).
Nutrition Info: calories 0; total fat 0g; sodium 55mg; total carbs 0g; sugars 0g; protein 0g.
Brown’s Ginger Ale
Ingredients: carbonated water, high fructose corn syrup, citric acid, sodium benzoate, ginger extract with other natural flavors, salt, and caramel color.
Nutrition Info: calories 130; total fat 0g; sodium 20mg; total carbs 31g; sugars 31g; protein 0g.
Brown’s Root Beer
Ingredients: carbonated water, high fructose corn syrup, caramel color, natural and artificial flavors, gum acacia, and citric acid.
Nutrition Info: calories 170; total fat 0g; sodium 0mg; total carbs 42g; sugars 42g; protein 0g.
Is Dr Brown’s Soda Kosher For Passover?
For any product to be Kosher for Passover, it cannot have any trace of grains that has fermented or risen.
Flavorings in sodas can contain these forbidden substances, called hamets, hametz, or chametz. Commonly, the caramel flavor contains hamets.
As laid out in the previous section, all but one of the Dr. Brown’s range has the caramel color ingredient.
Dr. Brown’s have been a staple drink in the Jewish community for decades.
In the 1930s, Dr. Brown’s Cel-Ray was so popular that it was dubbed the “Jewish champagne” at all the major life celebrations.
It was the most desired beverage to have at weddings, bar-mitzvahs, and sweet-sixteen parties.
Despite being the drink of choice on many occasions, the sodas aren’t Kosher for Passover throughout the year.
This means that Dr. Brown’s has to specially produce soda that is allowable on the Passover table during this time of celebration.
It will be specially marked as certified Kosher for Passover.
To identify whether it’s certified, have a look at the cap.
Does it display a P or ORB-P? Then it is good to go for the feast.
Where Can I Buy Dr Brown’s Soda?
In the early years of Dr. Brown’s existence, the soda was available only in smaller shops and delicatessens in the Jewish neighborhoods of New York City.
This, however, has changed quite a bit, and the brand is currently globally distributed.
These days, big supermarket chains like Target and Walmart stock the beverages.
The line of sodas will also still be found in Jewish shops around the country.
Globally, Dr. Brown’s is especially distributed to Israel’s English-speaking neighborhoods.
If you are happier to shop online from the comfort of your cozy couch, many websites will get the products to you.
These include the famous Amazon.com and the online versions of Target and Walmart.
It still maintains its elite status even though the distribution has expanded.
Being part of the minority and not give in to mediocrity has always been the design behind the brand’s strategy.
Dr. Brown’s Soda is a variety of carbonated soda pops initially catering exclusively to the Jewish community of New York City.
The commercial production of the soda started in 1869 and has picked up in popularity over the decades.
The line of sodas went through a sequence of bottling companies, and today, it’s bottled and produced by PepsiCo in New York City.
In contrast, LA Bottleworks exclusively makes the 12oz glass bottle version of the soda pops.
Dr. Brown’s produces soda pops that are Kosher for Passover.
These can be identified by a P or an ORB-P on the cap.
Not all Dr. Brown’s Soda is Kosher for Passover, so make sure the marks of certification are present if you are buying it for Passover.
Starting out, Dr. Brown’s has always been a beverage for a minority group of people.
The brand has kept to that strategy throughout the years, even though its distribution was widened.
Whether Dr. Brown ever existed or not, we will never know.
The fact of the matter is: the Dr. Brown’s sodas are here to stay.