Shastalgia trip by mattsteinglass
August 8, 2009, 1:11 pm
Filed under: Oddities

Driving through southeastern Utah in June, 2000, somewhere between Arches National Park and Escalante National Reserve, Pauline and I stopped in a town that had the only food store with outdoor, apparently local fresh fruit we’d seen in, oh, probably 200 miles. The sun was blazing, the main road through town was empty, the plane trees were sighing; I believe a single tumbleweed blew through frame. Next to the crates of slightly dried-out peaches and funky, spotted tomatoes was a soda machine. The brand: Shasta. Shasta! Shasta?! (“We haven’t had that spirit here since 1969…”) The price of a can was 25 cents. Unbelievable. I hadn’t even heard the brand name “Shasta” in probably 20 years, and I suddenly felt again with a vivid pang of remembered thirst the moment when the price of a can of soda at the machine down at the Chevy Chase Community Center in Washington, DC went from 25 to 35 cents. I believe the year of that price shift was 1980. How could a can of soda anywhere in the US still cost 25 cents in 2000? It was the soda machine forgotten by time. We stood there looking at each other and laughing like we were in a horror-flick spoof. Come to think of it, we did that in several places on that trip. Utah and Arizona are weird.

The other day my wife came back from L’s Place, the local “supermarket” (in the US, we would call it a “convenience store”) up on Xuan Dieu St., and said she’d seen some cans of Shasta. I didn’t believe it, I thought she’d made a mistake. But this afternoon I went in and checked it out, and she was right. Shasta Strawberry Soda. (They always had kind of weird flavors.) So here’s my question: is Shasta just a fairly common California or West Coast down-market soda brand that’s always been quite common in its regional market, but that had a failed push to go national in the ’70s, so I think of it as a soda of my childhood? And now it gets imported to Vietnam at stores catering to foreigners because of the Vietnam-California ethnic link? Or what?

Anyway, here’s one of those amazing Shasta commercials from the ’70s:


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I don’t know the answer to your question, but they also had quite a bit of Shasta in Chicago, but it was also pretty easy to find all kinds of different funky soda brands in that city. Weird stuff though, for sure.

Comment by semitext

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