Last Friday, when Glory and I drove out to Leduc, I saw an interesting store pop up on Google Maps - YEG Exotic Pop.
There was no time to go there that night, but on Saturday morning, Audrey, Glory and I tracked down this store after looking in wonder at the array of imported sodas on their website. Having just written about rock & rye a few weeks back, it seemed a natural enough thing to do.
We had a wonderful time but if you want to give them a visit yourself, you should be aware of a few things.
1) It is not a stand-alone store, it exists at the front end of a hemp shop. The store is clean, well lit, and the friendly staff person stayed masked at all times, but don't be surprised (e.g. like we were) at the fact that the majority of Smoking J's Hemp Shop is occupied with bongs, stash boxes and all the things that go with and in them.
2) Importing sodas is expensive, so most of the single-serve bottles and cans rang up between $3-$4. It makes sense - after all, liquids are heavy, need to be shipped in a pressurized environment, and the majority of products are actually in glass bottles.
3) They don't just sell sodas - they have a decent assortment of exotic junk food as well, such as KFC flavoured potato chips from the U.K. and grilled ham and cheese Cheetos from - you know what, doesn't matter where. We grabbed some Arizona Green Tea fruit chews and a bag of popcorn with Butterfinger drizzle, and both were quite good. I could see this being a dangerous place for an attack of the munchies but perhaps that is just clever planning on their part?
Shopping there was a pretty good time, and there is a tremendous variety of flavours and styles, some common and others - well, exotic.
We are pacing ourselves on the sodas having drunk only a Key Lime soda with our name on it as well as a Philippines-style coconut mint pop, and both were delicious.
The strangest flavour we procured is undoubtedly this charmingly named Rocket Piss: "bitter butterscotch soda that glows in the dark"! I am both curious and incredibly apprehensive about sampling this one but hold out hopes it might make a good mixer - not too good, because, you know, $4 a bottle... I am also unsure how to achieve the glow-in-the-dark effect before consuming without having the pop become tepid in the process. A flashlight in the icebox perhaps?
There is a strong nostalgia vibe with a lot of the packaging on display, such as this Grape Nehi. I am only familiar with this brand due to it being name-dropped by Radar O'Reilly on M*A*S*H, but they have been around since 1924 like it says on the bottle.
Best labelling goes to the Real Soda Co.'s Leninade though - they grab onto their theme with a tenacity that is stupefying to behold, and pack the bottle with all manner of jokes:
Best of all, every one of our sodas was made with cane sugar instead of high-fructose corn syrup.
Paying more for sodas than I usually do for beer was a neat experience, but probably not one I will repeat very often. Still, it is kind of cool to know there is a funky shop on 156 street that can sort me out if I want to try an old-fashioned cream soda from Brooklyn Bottling or a White Peach Fanta from Japan.