Pepsi is dominant.

For reasons unknown to man, Pepsi is the dominant soft drink of Appalachia. I can no longer recall the first time I tried a Pepsi, but I still remember my first Coke.


In Kentucky, it’s not uncommon to see toddlers toddling about with a sippy cup filled with Pepsi, that same toddler could easily be approaching manhood before sampling his first Coke.

Vintage Pepsi Ad

Vintage Pepsi Ad

I know I was. I was perhaps 9-10 years old when I was handed my first can of Coke. I probably loudly protested. I’d grown accustomed to drinking Pepsi and wanted no congress with this odd impostor. Truth be told, I liked it, but I would have to carry that secret shame silently as both sides of my family were Pepsi folk.

I’d occasionally lay my hands on a Coke but it was always on the down low. I idolized my uncle Don who drank 20 or so tall 16 oz bottles of Pepsi per day. There was no way in Hell I’d let him know I was double dealing with Coke on the side.

Then the Pepsi Challenge came along. There are Youtube videos of Coke drinkers swearing their allegiance to Pepsi in blind taste test challenges. This confirmed what the mountain people of the Cumberland Highlands already knew. Sent Coke execs into a downward spiral and resulted in New Coke being released.

We just kept on drinking Pepsi.

Old Coke was trotted back out on the market after people freaked out and started a nationwide campaign to rid America of the New Coke menace.

We kept on drinking Pepsi.

Pepsi enjoys market dominance in Quebec, Canada in addition to Appalachia. Make of that what you will.

Reading through a North Carolina History Project archive {Pepsi was invented in Bern North Carolina} I discovered that Caleb Bradham, the inventor, originally came up with the beverage cause he wanted something to drink that did not have narcotics in it.

Most regional beverages back then would get you good and loopy.

Pepsi was originally called Brad’s Drink. It did not contain caffeine.

Nowadays I make my own soft drinks. I drink neither Coke nor Pepsi. I use Topo Chico as my starting base and sweeten it then add various roots and berries til I get the flavor I’m gunning for correct.

Perhaps once every 3-4 years I’ll have the sublime pleasure of a fried baloney sandwich paired with an ice cold Pepsi and a bag of Grippos potato chips.

It always takes me back.

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