The Guilty Pleasure: The Wall of Soda Where to Get It: Rocket Burger & Subs, 35th Ave and Cactus Price: $1.99 (or $9.95 for a six-pack) What It Really Costs: Go ahead and schedule that dentist visit now.
Everyone has their preferred bad-for-you vice. Some people can't live without a pack of smokes at close hand. Others love an ice-cold beer or three. And, of course, a good number of you out there prefer recreational substances of the illicit herbal variety. Given my history writing for Chow Bella, one would think that my biggest vice is a well-crafted cocktail. Well, it's not.
While there is novelty in a staggeringly huge selection of fountain sodas like you find at newer QuikTrip locations, mass-market syrup-bag-in-a-box soda isn't my bag. Those 44-ounce vats of sickly sweet, carbonated high fructose corn syrup just aren't any fun. Give me soda in a real glass bottle, sweetened with real sugar.
For a good number of years, my go-to to get my fix was Pop The Soda Shop. Alas, their retail presence wasn't enough to stay afloat, leaving soda junkies like me in search of other places to get their unusually flavored beverage fix. But, Pop still exists as a wholesaler. Odds are pretty good that if you're drinking a retro soda in the metro Phoenix area, it passed through the Pop warehouse. Despite Pop still carrying a vast quantity of soda, hardly anyone is willing to stick out their neck and carry oodles of varieties. That's why I couldn't have been much happier when I found the sweet, bubbly motherlode in northwest Phoenix.
On the corner of 35th Avenue and Cactus is a little place called Rocket Burger & Subs. If you live in the area and have driven past a zillion times, I completely understand. From the outside, it doesn't look like much. At first, the inside doesn't look like much either. Then you notice the convenience store-style beverage refrigerator. It's filled to the brim with literally hundreds of varieties of soda. Coke and Sprite are there (in foreign versions, at least), but they're a vast minority to a jaw-dropping array of small-batch sodas.
If you have a favorite from somewhere else in the country, odds are pretty good they have it. Are you a Carolinian missing Cheerwine? No problem. Mainer who was raised on Moxie? You're all set now. They even have my personal favorite, the sinus clearing Blenheim Ginger Ale. If you like your ginger spicy, this is the stuff you've been looking for. Kicks like a mule, as subtle as a death metal concert... pick your favorite assertive analogy.
One more thing... If your eyes light up at the mention of Dublin Dr Pepper, you might want to pay a visit to Rocket Burger & Subs sooner rather than later. Just remember to share the love, OK?