Friday, January 17, 2020

Nostalgia Bomb! - Snow White Cream Soda

What was it?

Snow White Cream Soda was an independent and hard-to-find cream soda that I had in and around the 1990s. It was a clear or colourless cream soda and was not tinted with any dyes to look pink, which was and is common with different brands of cream soda, like Crush.

When was it available?

This one is a toughie! From my research the company that technically made Snow White sodas has been around since in the 1920s and I've seen some very old-looking cans of Snow White Cream Soda for sale on eBay for extravagant prices, but without exact dates on them. I know for certain it was around in the 1970s to the 1990s and potentially even as late as the 2010s, but more on that in the next segment!

What about today?

The short answer is... I dunno. The long-winded one - because you know I can't help myself - is that the company that technically makes the soda still appears to be around and making pop, so there's a possibility that it could be being made and sold right now in some small markets in Canada. I don't think that's the case, though!

Why do I remember it?

Simply put, Snow White Cream Soda was by far the best cream soda I have ever had!

I first started spotting cans of the stuff at a local convenience store that I frequented as a kid in the early '90s. It was never stored anywhere near the big brands like Coca-Cola or Pepsi and would always be mixed up with the cheaper brands, like Cott or RC. This section of the pop fridge was always in complete disarray and held a mish-mash of cans, so you had to actually take the time to dig through them to find something you were looking for.

The can I know and remember is this one, which I found on the site

I feel like I remember other winter-themed designs on the can, but I could be totally wrong and I have no way to corroborate it. I'm so sure there was one with a cutesy penguin or something, but the Internet is failing me.

Cream soda is always about the vanilla flavour. It's a really simple drink that hearkens back to an older time. It feels right at home with ginger ale or root beer. I feel like around the '80s some soda companies decided to spice things up and started putting pink dye in cream soda as a way of making it more appealing to kids. This isn't inherently bad - in fact I still really enjoy Crush Cream Soda, which does this - but it seems like the flavours started to vary at this time, too. The taste took a backseat to the colouring.

For a long time Crush actually didn't add the pink dye. The label would be pink, but the soda remained colourless. Nowadays the whole brand is pretty well sold on its vivacious coloured sodas, like orange, pineapple, and grape, so cream soda has gone the same route.

No other cream soda had the formula so perfect as Snow White, which is why I believe I was even able to get the stuff in Nova Scotia. You see, the brand is owned by Breuvages Kiri from a small town in Quebec. Like most small brands, it pretty well only distributes in the immediate area, but you could get their sodas as far as Ontario and northern New Brunswick. They had other flavours, which I was surprised to find out, like orange and lemon-lime, but cream soda was their best and brightest and, as such, was distributed with a further reach.

Sometime during the late-90s I stopped seeing the stuff on local store shelves. It was one of those "you don't know what you've got 'til it's gone" moments. I'm sure I enjoyed as much of the stuff as I could, but as soon as I couldn't get it anymore I craved it. It was right at home with a bag of Hostess Barbecue potato chips as a Coke, which in my mind is no small feat.

That said it looks like Breuvages Kiri, also known as TechnoBev in Ontario (because this shit isn't confusing enough), weren't done with the soda. The Snow White brand continued on and even added some flavours to try and diversify. In addition to the three I mentioned above I think there was root beer and cherry. This may have occurred around the 2000s, but it could have been earlier. If you could tell, solid information on this brand is pretty sparse. 

At some point before the 2010s the company re-branded their sodas as simply Kiri and appears to still be a local favourite, having carved out a small enough niche to survive all these years in the rough-and-tumble soda business. The thing is their website has thrown a broken link since 2011 when the company reportedly filed for bankruptcy protection, so I'm not sure what's up. There is another Kiri soda brand from Uganda but, unsurprisingly, there's no connection.

I have read that Kiri pushed other flavours, but I've even read that as late as 2011 they were still producing cream soda with the original recipe. Whether it was still branded as Snow White or made under the Kiri label I can't be sure. From what I've read it was found in Giant Tiger stores in Quebec, which are sort of like mini department stores that are a step up from a Dollarama. We have the stores here in NS, but no Snow White to speak of.

So there's still hope that some day I might be able to enjoy a Snow White Cream Soda in one incarnation or another! I'm not holding my breath, though.

Whether Snow White is still around or not is kind of inconsequential, honestly. As much as I'd love to have it again - should it still exist - it was a slice of time in my childhood and teenage years that I can never get back to. When biking to the store and renting some tapes or games and grabbing a cold soda out of the fridge was always a night well-spent, especially if I was enjoying an ice cold Snow White Cream Soda.

And that's why it's a blast from my past!