The memory of retired schoolteacher and longtime Excelsior Springs resident Darryl Couts became the driving force behind bottled soda pop bearing the Excelsior Springs logo.
“Darryl and my husband, Jim, got to talking one day and Darryl had said that he remembered when he was a child that they had different flavors of soda available here in Excelsior Springs. We brought the idea up to Keith Winge (former director of the Downtown Excelsior Partnership) and things just started rolling from there. We asked Keith what he thought about bringing back the old fashioned sodas again,” explained Willow Spring Mercantile owner Daphne Bowman.
Many residents can recall soda for sale in Excelsior Springs during the ‘60s and ‘70s; most notably the flavor strawberry comes to mind. “Strawberry is probably the most reminiscent to those who are grown-ups now,” said Bowman. “Bringing back soda with Excelsior Springs’ label was a way to bring nostalgia back and to bring back another souvenir outlet as we build back the tourist aspect of Excelsior Springs.”
Couts spent a great deal of time at the Excelsior Springs Museum and Archives, 101 E. Broadway Ave., in downtown Excelsior, researching the glass bottles and labels the soda was once bottled in.
“We talked about how to get the label off of a round bottle because it just doesn’t work very well. We discussed a lot of differences between the old and new bottles and the museum had some of the old bottles both filled and empty to use as an example,” said Couts.
Bowman perked up and added in on the conversation, explaining to Couts that the Mercantile was familiar with the bottling process as they actually carry their own soda at their store.
“I have a private line of soda that we carry at Willow Spring,” she continued. “Darryl and Jim kept talking about all of the different flavors that Excelsior had at one time and they decided on four flavors: black cherry, root beer, cream soda and strawberry. They’re really good sodas.”
Bowman said that selling the soda here in Excelsior makes sense and that it’s a smart business move. The soda pop brings back nostalgia, the bottles make great souvenirs and all the money that is raised from selling the soda goes back into the Visitor Center at the Hall of Waters to promote downtown Excelsior Springs.
“My guess is that when someone says, ‘oh, gosh, I remember drinking that soda when I was a kid,’ there will be a chance for the concept to grow,” said Bowman.
The first four flavors rolled out last week and hit the market at the Hall of Waters, where anyone can purchase a bottle for $2.50 apiece or a six-pack for $10. The Bowmans and Couts are hopeful that the sodas will be a hit on the tourist market and for locals and that eventually they can expand the flavors to include even more. Although from the sounds of it, folks around town say the strawberry soda pop is the way to go.
By Jae Juarez • email@example.com