Dr. Brown’s Cel-Ray® soda has its admirers and detractors. Much speculation surrounds the invention of this soda, which in its infancy was a mix of sugar, carbonated water, celery seed extract, and a few other flavors. Today the drink has gone the way of most sodas by adding the inferior high fructose corn syrup instead of sugar, and caramel coloring. It’s still an admired drink by many who grew up with it, especially those who would order it in Kosher or Jewish delicatessens. In fact Cel-Ray® soda has been dubbed the Jewish champagne, since many considered it the perfect accompaniments to salty meats like pastrami.
Today, Dr. Brown’s Cel-Ray® soda is made by Canada Dry®. Initially the drink was developed in the late 1860s, and may have been sold as celery tonic instead of Cel-Ray® soda. The world questions the existence of a Dr. Brown who supposedly invented the drink. There is suggestion that a true Dr. Brown may have been a doctor in Brooklyn who invented the drink and who had a friend in the bottling business. No matter who the inventor was, Cel-Ray® soda soon became popular, especially in delicatessens as a nice light drink, rather than as a health tonic.
Unlike most soft drinks, Cel-Ray® soda has more bitterness, and you’ll probably want to be a fan of celery prior to trying it. Most early soft drinks were considered healthful, but this is dubious, especially today, given the high fructose corn syrup the drink contains. It’s certainly not a health tonic, but instead a light, greenish tasting accompaniment best served with savory, salty or heavily spiced foods. People praise it as a fantastic drink on hot days when serving deli sandwiches.
Many suggest the drink is an acquired taste, and others assert they could never acquire a liking for it. Supporters generally are used to it and have enjoy Cel-Ray® soda since childhood. Detractors tend to try it as adults and find it absolutely wretched. Some can’t get past the overt celery smell when a bottle or can is opened. If you’re a traditionalist who likes your soda sweet, you might try a few other Dr. Brown sodas. The cream soda is considered one of the finest on the market, though it too has diverged from its original recipe by being made with high fructose corn syrup.
On the other hand, if you’re out having a big pastrami sandwich, you might want to pick up a can of Cel-Ray® soda and give it a try. Many people swear by the fantastic flavor which offsets salty meats. If you’re lucky enough to be in a Jewish delicatessen, you’ll likely find the drink available.