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What is cream soda? There's no cream in it. What flavor is it supposed to be?

-- DO, San Diego

Hard to believe that Squirt and Pepsi have their origins in the mineral waters of 18th-century European spas. An English chemist started serving a bubbly taste-alike beverage as a health drink in his shop. Since the concoction contained soda, it was dubbed soda water. Today we've progressed to the point where the stuff is banned from school vending machines as a type of slow death, but back in the 1800s, any pharmacist's standard book of medicine recipes would include instructions for making pick-me-ups like the Siberian Flip (soda water with orange, pineapple, and bitters) and the Don't Care Soda (pineapple, strawberry, vanilla, and nonalcoholic port wine). Cream soda was originally soda water with cream, but as commercial flavoring syrups became more available, the "cream" flavoring was replaced with vanilla.

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