It's 1992, summertime. I'm eight years old, on break from school, and thirsty. I'd been running around outside with the other neighborhood kids, playing sports and climbing trees. My father, on the other hand, had been at the grocery store, picking up some refreshing treats-popsicles, ice cream bars-and something new.
What's this? A dark brown glass bottle with a green label? That's weird. Pappy's Old Fashioned Sassafras Tea? Huh. Interesting. I'd never heard of sassafras tea before. I'd heard the weird sassafras before-it was something to call smart-mouthed kids, maybe even something from Looney Toons...but I'd never heard of it being a tea (the following is a rough approximation of how it went down).
"What's this dad?"
"Well, you love root beer, so I thought I'd get you some tea made from sassafras-sassafras is what Root Beer was originally made from.
Sounded tasty to me. We poured some in a glass, filled it with water and ice and I took a sip...interesting. It tasted mostly like root beer...but different. Of course, the difference was mainly due to the lack of carbonation, but at 8, I didn't think of such things. I added more tea concentrate. It definitely satisfied my sweet tooth a lot better-so sweet in fact that it made my mouth pucker.
Anyways, I did eventually find the right mix of tea concentrate and water, and it was a very enjoyable substitute for regular ol' root beer.
It also inspired me to start trying to create my own sodas for the first time. I didn't know anything about home carbonation or yeast or anything like that. I don't remember my specific recipes, but I do recall the process was taking an empty 2-liter bottle, rinsing out the leftover soda, and combining all kinds of thins from around the house-any kind of liquid(besides milk) that I could find was combined with other things. Most of the time it was hot water, sugar, and some kind of juice-but I do recall one batch had a cap full of Scope mouthwash poured into it. I would then walk around the house trying to convince people to try my homemade "soda." This worked pretty well for a little while-my parents or aunts/uncles would try my concoctions-usually grimacing from all of the sugar or the weird combination of apple juice, sunny delight and vinegar. However, once the bottle with mouthwash in it was sampled, word spread around and people started refusing to try my mixtures. I understand why, of course, but that discouraged me and quickly lead to me discontinuing my soda experiments. At least for a little while...