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Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Pop-In From The Past

After 16 years of selling sarsaparilla, apple beer and other classic and exotic sodas, Galco’s Soda Pop Stop decided it wanted to make its very own brand of pop.

It turned out that putting the fizz in it was trickier than anticipated.

The Highland Park retailer, which sells online and at a local storefront, wanted to reproduce a cream soda made by the White Rose Springs Water Co., which produced soda and bottled water in the northeast L.A. neighborhood until the late 1960s.

The problem was Galco owner John Nese couldn’t just find any bottler to brew up a batch of White Rose Springs cream soda, but he needed to find one that used a vintage carbonation method that would duplicate the taste of 1930s-era soda.

Nese finally found Natrona Bottling Co., a Pittsburg bottler that operates the last pin-point dry-ice carbonation machine in the United States. The more expensive process produces superfine carbon-dioxide bubbles that give the soda a feel closer to champagne than Sprite.

“We’ve had people who remember the original White Rose Springs sodas say we got the taste right,” said Nese, who converted his father’s grocery at 5702 York Blvd. into the soda store in 1995. “Classic sodas are a connection to a kinder, gentler time.”

The bottles, which feature labels based on the original White Rose trademark from the 1930s, sell for $1.99, and augment a lineup of dozens of soft drinks – as well as beer, bottled water and old-style candies such as Bit O Honey – that are sold at the store and shipped countrywide.

The bottles of cream soda won’t fill Nese’s kitty, though. A portion of proceeds will benefit another local historic institution: the closed Southwest Museum and Casa de Adobe, which were acquired by the Autry National Center of the American West.

The Autry plans to move much of the museum’s renowned collection of American Indian artifacts to a new home in Griffith Park, but Southwest supporters, who filed a lawsuit against the Autry in July, want the Highland Park site to be reopened also.

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