If you were a big fan of soda back in the day (and really, what kid wasn’t?), you might have stumbled across a short-lived chain of stores called The Pop Shoppe. Offering a seemingly endless array of flavors, once you finished drinking your hand-picked supply of soft drinks, you could head back, return your bottles, and start all over again.
The Pop Shoppe originated across the border in Ontario, Canada in 1969. They offered 30 varieties of their carbonated beverages, each in returnable bottles and ready to be packed into one of their supplied red plastic carrying cases. Choose your own selection of flavors, and when you are finished, return the red case and the empty bottles and proceed to fill it again.
The concept proved so popular in Canada that within three years, The Pop Shoppe had over 500 outlets throughout Canada. They decided to expand to the United States, and by 1975, Pop Shoppe stores were opened in 12 States, from New York to California. Long Island was no exception, and it wasn’t long before people were lining up to choose their own custom case of soda.
No matter your flavor preference, the Pop Shoppe probably had you covered. Besides the typical cola, root beer and cream soda, there was a huge assortment of fruit flavors that included grape, black cherry, strawberry, and one their most beloved offerings, pineapple soda. There was also a respectable selection of diet flavors for those a little more calorie-conscious, and there were mixers such as club soda and ginger ale for the adults.
The Pop Shoppe appeared to thrive through the 70s, but when the next decade arrived, business began to fizzle, as numerous grocery store chains began offering their own version of cheap sodas in a plethora of flavors. By 1983, all Pop Shoppe locations in the US had ceased operations. Flash forward to 2004, and the company is slowly coming back to life. They no longer offer the cases or refillable bottles, nor the outlets to sell them, but you can once again buy a bottle of pineapple soda from them, just like the old days. And there won’t be any of that nasty high fructose corn syrup in there either, just pure cane sugar. Again, just like the old days.
If you have fond memories of visiting one of the Pop Shoppe locations on Long Island in the 70s, we’d love to hear from you. What were your favorite flavors? Do you still have one of the old red cases sitting in the garage somewhere? Share all of those Pop Shoppe memories with us in our comments section below and help us remember this soda smorgasbord from yesteryear.