I recently took a trip to Highland Park California's oasis of soda pop, the more than retro worthy-- Galco's.
Originally opened in 1897 as an old world grocery store, the one of a kind store has been a beverage bonanza since the 1950s.
Admittedly, the place can be a bit over whelming. With over 500 different sodas to choose from, all in glass bottles (The only plastic allowed here is your credit card) it took me several trips down the aisles to focus and get to shopping.
If you're not sure what to pick? Just ask the Owner “Big John” Nese and he will gladly give you suggestions. Since taking over the store some five plus decades ago John has worked with hundreds of independent bottlers (no Coke or Pepsi here) to bring in carbonated concoctions from around the world.
You can buy individual bottles (priced between $1.50 and $3.00 each) either off the shelf or cold from the fridge. If you find a flavor you can't live without, you can buy multi packs or purchase a full case.
What bubbly beverages did I select? The Red Rubber Root Beer (suggested by Big John) was the best root beer I've ever drank. The Jic Jac lemon lime tasted like my childhood. Champagne Cola was smooth and crisp. I picked the Lemmy Sparkling Lemonade just for the label.
Thankfully it tasted more like a better Country Time lemonade than the sweat of the lead singer of Motorhead.
The Almond Cream soda was sublime. Jeff's Chocolate Soda was easily my favorite. It reminded me of a bubbly Yoo-hoo. I've heard it tasted like and old fashioned egg cream, but I must admit I've never ever had an egg cream so I don't know how close it is to the original. I do know I want more.
The oddest drink was a Rose flavored soda. Which left a clean (and somewhat pretty) taste in my mouth. I like having a pretty mouth. There were several selections I was just not brave/ crazy enough to sample including the Sangria soda, Jasmine soda and Absinthe Botanical brew.
For those who are feeling a bit creative, Galco's has a make your own “Soda Pop Stop.” For just five bucks you can grab a glass bottle, pump your favorite flavor(or flavors) ad the carbonated H2O then cap and label your one of a kind thirst quenching pop. In addition to the sodas Galco's also sells beer, wine and mineral water.
And did I mention the vintage candy?!
They have giant cases stuffed with Malo Cups, Idaho Spuds, Chuckles, Fruit Stripe Gum, Necco Wafers, Pop Rocks and Candy Cigarettes (in both gum and candy varieties.)
Pretty sure it's the only time in my life I will say the following phrase to my 6 year old,
“Hey son, you want a pack of cigarettes?”
Galco's is an amazing old school shopping adventure you need to take.
Retro Report EXTRA:
When you visit Galco's it would be a shame for you to not spend a few moments with a neighboring Retro must see. Of course I'm talking about the towering oddball advertising icon Chicken Boy!
Often called “The Statue Of Liberty Of Los Angeles” this twenty-two foot creation stands atop an art gallery located on the old Route 66 less than a five minute drive away from Galco's.