Guest reviewer and vintage soda enthusiast George Tsakiridis returns with another review.
In my last review I looked at Thomas Kemper Classic Grape. Continuing the excitement of reliving the nostalgic sodas available at Old 52 General Store, today we take a look at 76 Lemon-Lime Drink, made by the American "76" Company.
Initially, before I even take a sip, this drink has a couple of things going for it. First, it comes in a classic, long 16-ounce glass bottle, the type I used to drink from Home Team Pizza back in college. No, I'm not that old, but for some reason they were still selling these my first few years in school. It's in a classic green with the "Return for Deposit" print on the bottom front. It looks a lot like what a 7-Up or Mountain Dew bottle would look like in the old days. Second, the ingredient list on the bottle reads as follows: "Carbonated Water, Sugar, and Citric Acid. Flavor Derived from Lemon and Lime Oils."
Yup, that's it. It's easy to understand and devoid of any strange chemicals or colorings.
On further inspection, things get a little trickier as I wonder if the soda inside the bottle is the same as it used to be. On the cap it reads "White Soda" with another ingredient list below it. It reads, "Carbonated Water, Sugar or Corn Sweetener, Citric Acid, Sodium Citrate and Natural Citrus Extract, with Sodium Benzoate."
OK, let me say a couple things. First, that last comma seems totally unnecessary, and second, the corn sweetener has me slightly concerned. Now, don't get me wrong, I still have high hopes for the drink, but wonder a bit about the difference. It also states around the side of the cap that this is bottled by "Twigs Beverage Co. Shawano, WI 54166." According to the Old 52 website, 76 does contain sugar and lemon and lime oils, so perhaps we are in the clear on the corn sweetener, at least in part.
For another side note, I found this bottle (empty) selling on eBay for $9.99 by one seller; it didn't have any bids, but hey, at least someone thinks it is in demand, so maybe you get a bonus collectible (honestly, I'm probably saving my bottle for the shelf). I also note on the back of the bottle a drawing of two little drummer boys and a flautist, in case you were wondering what the "76" was about. (For those who still don't get it, our nation was founded in 1776 – read your history books!)
Let's move on to the taste. First, make sure you have a bottle opener handy because this is a real bottle without threads to unscrew the thing. If you have an "alternate" method to open bottles, say from opening beverages in college, that will work also. Upon popping the cap, I smell a lemon-lime aroma that I would swear is 7Up if I didn't know better. After drinking, it also tastes a lot like 7Up, but has a sweeter finish. The more I drink it, the more I really notice the sweet aftertaste. I would describe it as 7Up with a slightly less carbonated, but sweeter aftertaste. You really do taste the lemon-lime as it is not covered by over-carbonation. One other person I allowed to taste it thought 76 was better than 7Up because they didn't taste HFCS, and thus it had a better finish.
Overall, I really enjoy the drink. It is slightly sweet for my taste, but definitely good. Everyone has preferences when it comes to lemon-lime sodas with some preferring the sweeter and others the duller finishes, and this probably is somewhere in the middle, but on the sweet side. Finally, when you put the bottle/aesthetics together with the actual drink, I definitely recommend it, especially with some food.
Mmmm, I could really go for a pizza right now.
Full Disclosure: This beverage was provided compliments of Old 52 General Store