Is it “cream” or “creme” soda? And what the heck is cream soda anyway? Actually, we can’t provide any definitive answers to these questions. We can say that it’s a very sweet soft drink that usually has a vanilla or a cotton-candy-like finish. There is no actual dairy in these shelf-stable drinks, but one of the first recipes did call for it, which likely tasted vastly different than the cream soda we know today.
The “cream” taste can be attributed to the notes of vanilla in the soda. A scientific study has shown that certain flavors can trigger texture feelings in our brains without the actual texture being present. Vanilla is one that triggers the creamy sensation. There are a staggering number of cream sodas on the market today. If your sweet tooth is craving this refreshing cream-like soda or you just need some to mix with the best vodkas, we’ve tracked down some of the best cream soda brands you can buy. Also, if you’re looking to cut back on your sugar intake but still want to indulge, most of these cream soda brands make a diet version as well.
We’ll start off our list with the cream soda that started it all, or at least the version we know and love today. This OG cream soda has been a fan favorite since the good doctor invented it in Brooklyn in 1869.
Next up to make waves on the cream soda timeline is IBC. In 1919 they began bottling cream soda, showing off its appealing golden amber color that we all associate with cream soda. IBC is a smooth, rich classic that still lives up to the name.
For over 100 years, the root beer barons A&W and IBC have been going toe-to-toe, and on not only on who will have the top-selling root beer. The cream soda rivalry didn’t come about until the 80’s when A&W launched its version. They’re both delicious; which one you choose depends on where your loyalties lie.
Close to a century ago, school teacher Frank Stewart set out to make the most delicious root beer to supplement his income. He was successful in doing so and came up with a super-tasty cream soda somewhere along the way.
Straight out of Detroit, Faygo is another legacy soda brand that’s been bringing us deliciously flavored soda for over 100 years. The first to put the “creme” in cream soda, and a non-amber colored version, Faygo Vanilla Creme is enjoyed by Juggalos and Normies nationwide.
Before “craft brew” and “small-batch” became alcohol industry buzz words, Virgil’s pioneered these methods in the soda industry. You can really taste the love that Virgil’s puts into every bottle, with no artificial preservatives or flavors.
The oldest craft brewery in Milwaukee makes some delicious beers and a really tasty cream soda. Their special ingredient, Wisconsin honey, heated in a gas-fired oven, makes for a rich and uniquely flavored cream soda.
Although traditional cream sodas are paired with vanilla flavors, others play well together as well. The Orange Cream Soda from Jones is super refreshing on a hot day or makes a wonderful dessert poured over ice cream.
Read more: Best Ice Cream Brands
Next in the line of flavors that go well with cream is strawberry. Wild Bill’s offers a wonderful, naturally flavored strawberry cream soda which they say “…tastes and smells like the classic Strawberry Bon Bons that frequented Grandma’s candy bowl!” We don’t have much frame of reference on this since most of our grannies were fans of ribbon candy, but either way, this cream soda is a winner.
Rounding out our list is the unique caramel apple flavor from Hank’s, a Philadelphia-based family business. Although it’s seasonal, the caramel apple cream soda is enjoyable year-round. That is if you can get your hands on it.
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