I took myself to Sundrop University Saturday and had a sweet time.
I learned, for instance, that a circus strongman named Charles Lazier developed Wisconsin’s famous soft drink, the first citrus soda ever marketed.
Bottled in Shawano, Wisconsin since 1951 by Twigs Beverage, Sundrop remains the beverage of choice in bars and ballfields around Wisconsin and certain other discerning areas of the country.
The drink predates Mountain Dew and also contains a higher caffeine concentrate, which explains its initial marketing slogan “Refreshing as a cup of coffee.”
The Lazier’s, perhaps owing to Charles’ circus background, also relied on the “Golden Girls”, pin-up models who posed with the beverage and, at least once, perched in a coffee cup with their limbs dangling gracefully out, to market its hot new drink.
You can see all of this and watch a 10-minute movie detailing the history in a cute little theatre with free fresh popcorn at the Twigs Beverage Museum in Shawano.
On certain days you can also try free samples of the Twigs Beverage creative lineup, including Peach Cobbler soda, and Forget-Me-Not Grape, which includes a donation to the Alzheimer’s Association for every bottle purchased.
I bought a couple of bottles for my troops back home including blue raspberry, caramel apple, cream soda, fruit punch, black cherry, the grape, peach and butterscotch root beer.
I like that this soda, “The Tops in Pops,” has always been bottled in reusable glass, is made with 100% pure sugar (we’re probably going to have to pace ourselves there), and is produced in a family-owned business. Floyd “Twig” Hartwig built his business soda case by case, beginning in 1951. Today, his son Dan runs the operation, which has expanded in locations, product and capabilities.
You can call ahead to schedule a guided tour, or you can celebrate all that quirky Sundrop goodness at an annual festival in Shawano on June 5 and 6 called Sundrop Dayz.
My self-guided tour included a free recipe book with some intriguing options like cake, sherbert, punch, and a bunch of drinks, including Wisconsin’s own Old Fashioned.
Cheers to Sundrop! And to Twigs! And to Peach Cobbler soda!