In Celebration of Cel-Ray

My husband and I had one of those tears-streaming-down-your-face belly laughs yesterday over something from my childhood that I likely blocked out for some 40+ years: Dr. Brown’s Cel-Ray soda.

Yes, you know the one: light green can, supposed to look like a lemon-lime, Sprite or 7-Up kind of thing. But, upon closer inspection, turns out to actually be a carbonated beverage derived of celery seed (how refreshing) and peppery (guaranteed to hit the spot on sweltering August afternoon in Brooklyn).

Anyway, why or how I started thinking of Cel-Ray yesterday, while my husband and I were driving with our kids on our way home from family services at our temple, I have no idea (although I was thinking about my dad during the service…maybe his bakery…maybe some connection there, who knows?), but nonetheless…I turned to Rob and said, nearly doubled over:celray2

“Honey, how about a nice cold Cel-Ray? Wouldn’t that be lovely right about now?”

“Perfect,” he replied. “Nothing better than a celery-flavored drink.”

“Leave it to a bunch of old Jews to think this would be refreshing!” I said. And then I immediately Googled Cel-Ray on my phone and learned that Cel-Ray was first produced in 1868 supposed to be a tonic like Ginger Ale but the Food and Drug Administration objected to its being called a tonic, so the name was changed to Cel-Ray soda. In fact, it was so popular in the Jewish community, it was considered a “Jewish Champagne” of sorts. Clearly, we had a fair amount of evolving to do.

I turned to my husband after a bit more thought and said “Only the Jews would produce a soda based on celery. Roughage. Someone made a soda based on Roughage. Do you see the link? Our insides have been falling out for years.” And with that, we both lost it. Our kids looked at us like we were crazy (they had a point), and begged us to explain. How do you explain to a nine-year-old and a set of 10-year-old twins, the insanity of Cel-Ray?

Where do you even begin?

P.S. Shockingly, it’s hard to find Cel-Ray these days. But you’ll be happy to know that you can find it on Amazon for $19.99. For a six-pack.


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Jodi Luber

Jodi Luber

Here goes: Born in Brooklyn. Daughter of a bagel baker with a Henny Youngman soul and a mom who makes Joan Rivers seem tame. Late bloomer. Married the love of my life at 45 and love being a mom to our three kids. I'm a professor at Boston U. Happiest in the kitchen baking and remembering how my dad would melt from a single bite of my cheesecake.
Jodi Luber
Jodi Luber

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