Ah a hot summer afternoon, back in the day, when basements were still called cellars … and they all contained a nice stash of the local favorite, Brookdale Soda. It was made and bottled on Sylvan
Ave. Rd. in Bloomfield from the late 1920’s to the late 1980’s, when the Pieretti family sold it to a company that went out of business six months later. Joseph Pieretti, a realtor in Bloomfield, whose father owned the business, says there’s a resurgence of interest in the brand, and he gets emails from people all over the country.
I feel cheated that I grew up in Northern Virginia, because just about everybody I know who grew up here has fond memories of cases being brought out at family picnics or of how the soda was a staple of long, hot summer afternoons. When I interviewed the folks at Agolia & Sons on Broad Street the other day, they mentioned that the old Brookdale Soda billboard used to be across the street — where Brookside Garden Center now is.
But few people have a softer spot in their heart for the soda pop than poet-historian Anthony Buccino, who actually has a Brookdale soda clock in his basement and a blog devoted to the stuff. He took the photos in this post and wrote this ode to the old soda especially for us.
Every significant event in my life growing up in East Baristaville was accentuated by Brookdale soda.
Others relished the Thanksgiving turkey or the Easter ham, but as for me, give me my Brookdale orange soda.
At a repast at someone’s home between viewings at Grandpa’s wake, I was first in line for the Brookdale Kola soda.
Drop the easy fly ball and lose the big game, it was all okay when I consoled my soul with that bright green lemon-lime Brookdale soda.
So now, who knows how many decades since Brookdale Beverage shut down that artesian well, burned the secret recipes and closed show, I’m still pining for a tall glass of ice bubbling with Brookdale birch soda.
The ice-breaker, so to speak, among Jersey baby boomers is, what’s your favorite Brookdale soda? Some people actually liked the celery flavor, or root beer best.
We kids used to wonder how people in the poor countries overseas grew up, deprived, without Brookdale soda, and we always finished ours so Ma wouldn’t have to pack it up and send it to them with our unfavored vegetables.
A rough morning with the nuns at Holy Family School was always made better with a glass of Brookdale soda with my sandwich when I got home for lunch with Mom. I drank it slowly as we watched her stories, Love of Life, Search For Tomorrow, and As The World Turns.
For me, it was Love of Brookdale Soda, Search for the Bottle Opener, and As the Ice Melts In the Brookdale Cherry and Cherry Pit.
So when I feel I’m getting old, I flip on my Brookdale soda sign on my basement bar and listen to the familiar voices around my imaginary table.