When I was a child, my grandmother used to make my brothers and I her own soda. She had a recipe that she had created for various flavors. She made orange, pineapple, ginger and apple sodas. We always looked forward to seeing her on the weekends because that’s what we were treated with as soon as we step through the door. She told us that she made these sodas because she didn’t like us drinking Coca-Cola or Pepsi. She wanted us to drink something that she controlled. The sugar content wasn’t as high and she knew what was going into it. Her sodas also had no preservatives because she would make them fresh.
She wouldn’t tell anyone the recipe. But one day when I was sixteen, she brought me into the kitchen and taught me how to make it. She said that she was passing on the recipe to me because she wanted to pass it on to her only granddaughter. If she had had a daughter, she would have taught her how to make the sodas, she said. And in that moment, I was glad that she didn’t. Not because I wanted the recipe, but because I felt very close to my grandmother and I don’t know if it would have been different should she have had a daughter. She took me through the process step-by-step. I watched how smoothly she zipped around the kitchen even at her age. She was amazing. Once she was done, she let me try my hand at recreating the soda. I did and it didn’t taste like hers, but she showed me where I went wrong. We practiced once a week for a month until I was able to copy her process. Once I had that down, I tried my hand at creating a new flavor. I went with mango because we had a mango tree in the back and it was in season. I had to create a few different variations of it before I had it just right. I let me grandmother try it and she loved it. She told me that I was naturally gifted.
A few months later she would pass away. I think she knew that her time was coming to an end and that’s why she taught me her secret recipe. I went off to college that year. I dropped out about a year after because my Dad had a stroke and someone needed to take care of him. My Mom was working and she couldn’t take care of him. She hated that I dropped out, but I was daddy’s little girl and there was no way I was leaving him when he needed me most. I would make him soda once a week because he loved my grandmother’s soda. He told me mine tasted just like hers and he really liked the mango and cherry flavors I had come up with. One day when a friend of his dropped by the house to see my father, I made them both some soda. John, my father’s friend, worked for OKL Can Line and he told me to can the sodas because they were really good. I looked at my father and I didn’t say anything. When John left, my father pulled me aside and told me to sell the sodas. I told him they were a family secret and I didn’t want to, but he told me it could change all our lives and Abuela would have wanted to help her family. So, I started canning the stuff and selling it at our local supermarket. It soon became really popular and we were offered a large sum for the recipe, but I turned it down. This was my family recipe and I was going to lead the line with this drink. And so, we partnered with a large soda company, I won’t say who (it is a fact that it may or may not be Pepsi), to sell the drink internationally.