There never was a Mr. Shasta: Back in 1889, the company's source of mineral water was in Shasta Springs, California. Today, Shasta makes 54 flavors, and the cream soda wowed our panelists. Less fake vanilla-flavored than others, Shasta Creme soda has a caramel-like taste.
Root beer dates back to the 1700s and is still made with a mix of juniper berries, sarsaparilla and ginger-root. The best-tasting root beer, according to our tasting, comes from Faygo, a company born in Detroit in 1907. Judges liked the balance of carbonation and sweetness.
Let's face it: Even though we tested 10 colas, the great cola war has always been between Coke and Pepsi. Nearly every other soft-drink maker has its own contender, but the winner in our blind taste test was Pepsi, made by a company founded in 1903. Judges deemed it the most classic in taste.
You'll detect artificial flavor in many lemon-lime drinks, but not in Bubble Up. Introduced in 1920 and produced by the same folks who make Moxie (which dates back to 1884), the soda is remarkably acidic, limey and dry, said our panelists.
Stewart's Ginger Beer
Frank Stewart opened a soda-pop stand in 1924, but he sold only fountain drafts; another company acquired the bottling rights to the name and introduced Stewart's Ginger Beer in 1990. Unlike most ginger ales, Stewart's is brownish in color and so spicy that it tickles the nostrils.
In 1938, during the Great Depression, Herb Bishop tinkered with a soda recipe that would require less sugar and less fruit -- a necessity in those leaner days. The result was Squirt. Our tasters praised the sparkle on the tongue and the crisp, citrusy flavor.