Tuesday, January 9, 2018. Treats And Drinks From Out Of The Past. After a couple of weeks during which Mary Ann went on strike against setting up guests for the radio show, the first guest in the her order appeared. Phyllis Luscy and her family have opened an unusual shop in the French Quarter, next door to Tujague’s. It sells soft drinks and candy, but not just any old.
Her inventory carries a strong nostalgic quality, because most of it comes from brands that aren’t exactly still on sale. Nehi Peach pop is the most recognizable one. I favored Nehi drinks–particularly the creme soda, which had not yet become blue yet. It was clear and colorless in the days when I would walk from our house on the corner of Ursulines and Marais to the Sweet Shop on the corner of St. Philip and Treme, in the center of the Treme neighborhood. I was five years old, and would make this walk alone with my nickel. I would buy a Nehi if it were available, and 7-Up if it weren’t. When selecting the 7-Up, I always avoided the green bottles branded with an abstract girl in a bathing suit, ready to refresh herself one way or another. (I still considered girls to be aliens.)
I was five years old when I was a regular at the Sweet Shop, which also scooped ice cream and sold ten-cent bags of Dickey’s Potato Chips, made in New Orleans and “Untouched By Human Hands.”
Those are the kinds of goods that Phyllis and her mom are selling next to Tujague’s. The story becomes further interesting. Phyllis’s mother was for a long time the owners of the original Deanie’s restaurant. Not the one at Bucktown or in the French Quarter, but the one that used to sell breakfast and lunch to the industrial companies around the intersection of Annunciation and Tchoupitoulas, before it became the Warehouse District. The family also had another Deanie’s on Hayne Boulevard in New Orleans East. All of these were very good restaurants in their day. (And things are still rolling on Hayne.)
They call the new place the Rocket Fizz. They have many more old soft drinks, including a root beer made with caramel and a mellow flavor that may qualify as the best root beer I ever tasted. I’m going to use it next time I bake a ham. Nu-Grape is another in the extensive drinks on the list. Those of the Greatest Generation and the Baby Boomers will recommend the drinks as well as the candy bars. Phyllis tells me that many of these old brands are no longer being made, but if someone approached the owner of the name and the recipe for one of these oldies, it may well return from the deal.
I think I’ll go over there to check to see whether there’s any chance that Dr. Nut–the best-tasting fizzy drink in world history–will come back. Failing that, I’ll hope to find Moxie, the antique beverage in New England. On all of our cruises to Maine, I’ve served Moxie to my fellow cruisers at dinner.