I used to be an addicted soda drinker (Pepsi and Mountain Dew were my drinks of preference). And one day, I came to say enough, and I barely consume a dozen sodas a year now. So I was more or less an expert on sodas and the hype around individual brands....both in the US and Germany.
This is my essay on the choices that you commonly find on the shelf in Germany, and my 'rating':
- Mountain Dew (German style). Around ten years ago, Pepsi finally got around to introducing the drink to Germans. Someone suggested I should try it because it wasn't the same taste. So I tried it.....it is a different 'sweet' taste than regular Mountain Dew. Oh, it's got the caffeine to it.....but it taste more like a Fanta than the regular US-made Mountain Dew.
- Coke and Pepsi. Both have been around since the mid-60s and do a brisk business.
- Fanta. It comes in a couple of different tastes, and it's very sweet.
- Fritz-Cola. Well, I think if you took Coke, Tab, and flatten the sweetness a bit....you'd get Fritz. It's not a bad drink.....but it's not one that you find on every shelf. A number of the Brat-wurst stands offer it.
- 28-Black. One of the newer high-energy drinks, that comes in a large can and features high content of sugar and caffeine. Lot of school kids drink it.
- Club Cola. At some point in the mid-1960s....DDR (the old East Germany) came to realize that people wanted a big-name soda like Coke. So, they invented Club Cola. Up until the Wall came down....it was a major player in DDR. Today? It's still around and you can buy it under some regional soda company. From the one brief taste of it that I had.....it's kinda like Coke but missing something. If your circle of travel is mostly around the Pfalz or Hessen....you probably won't see it offered much. Further east, it's common.
- Vita-Cola. Basically, it tastes like 50-percent Coke, 10-percent lemon, and 40-percent fruit. It was another one of those DDR sodas that somehow survived and does some business today. Same deal....if your circle is Hessen and Pfalz....you might not bump into it. Further east, it's common.
- Fassbrause. There are a couple of brands which use the label Fassbrause. Basically, it's a soda that can be non-alcoholic or alcoholic.....depending on the brand. Fruit, malt and spices, thrown into the mix and is usually delivered either in kegs or bottles (no cans as far as I know). Sometimes, a German will refer to it as 'apple-bier'. You find this mostly manufactured and consumed in the Berlin region. The key to the taste? It's always fruity.....apples, raspberries, strawberries, etc. Some Germans will comment to some health positive with it.....I'm not exactly in that belief because of sugar content.
- Afri-Cola. From 1945 to around the late 1960s.....this was "the" soda of West Germany. Then Coke and Pepsi came in full force, and Afri became a minor player. It was loaded with caffeine with the old receipe, which ended with version one of the drink in the late 1990s. Version one had 250 mg of caffeine compared to what Mountain Dew has today with roughly 55 mg. Version two, dropped to roughly 150 mg of caffeine, but lost customers. After six years of the lower caffeine level....they went back to version one and are still there today (having regained some customers). If you really needed a heavy dose of caffeine.....this would be the drink to ask for.
- Sinalco. There are at least a dozen drinks under this brand name. The two that you might bump into are the cola or the orange. The orange Sinalco tastes like the US Orange Crush.
- Mezzo-Mix. It's a combo soda, with a cola taste and orange taste. Typically, it's more popular with women (my humble opinion).
- Schwip Schwap. Another combo soda, with cola and orange mixed, with a company owned by Pepsi.
- Bionade. This is a drink developed in the 1990s in Bavaria, which took the idea of fermentation and stayed with standard ideas of beer production....making a natural drink....thus claiming it to be bio in some way. They marketed this originally at fitness studios and wellness centers, and built up customers via that direction. The selling point of this is the claim that it's more healthy to drink than regular sodas, but has a sweet taste. There are at least four flavors to the drink, and I will admit that it's not a bad taste (it is sweet).
- Spezi. This came out of the Bavarian region (made in Augsburg, I think) in the 1950s. It's another cola and orange mix. If you were ever stationed in Bavaria or passed through the region, the odds are that you had this on a couple of occasions.
There are probably another dozen-odd soda brands around in Germany, to a lesser extent. If I were to make a serious observation about the long-term trend.....Germans like a mix of orange and cola.