There are a few things you’ll find more of per capita in Chapel Hill-Carrboro than in other areas in the South. PhDs, famous athletes, hipsters, socially liberal voters, craft beer, craft sodas.

Craft sodas? Soft drinks may seem like the outlier there, but it makes perfect sense when you think about it. Chapel Hillians tend to be hyper-conscious about what they put in their bodies. Why wouldn’t more natural and local sodas be a part of that enthusiasm for health?

Health. Sodas. That has to be a typo right?

Well, maybe.

No one is going to argue that soda is, or ever could be, “healthy.” By definition, it’s a sugary drink with plenty of empty calories. This isn’t going to change any time soon. And even if it did, it would result in losing exactly what sodas were meant to be in the first place: a treat.

And that’s OK. Sodas were invented as a treat. But the problem with soft drinks these days—and why they’ve become a major issue within health movements—is that it was forgotten that they were intended to be an occasional sweet.[1]  At some point they became as ubiquitous on a dining table as bread. The moment sodas were consumed at the same rate as H2O, they became a problem.

—A problem which is twofold. Not only did this style of consuming sodas add to the already unwholesome eating habits of most Americans, but it robbed the soda of being something you savored every now and then like any other sweet, delivering that crisp refreshing pop like only a soda can. But when you have a Sprite twice a day, or twenty times a week, at some point it loses its fizz.[2]

The idea with the specialty soda is simple: when you drink a natural, crafted soft drink, you’re more likely to treat it as a treat.[3] It becomes something to be savored — maybe even appreciated. You consume less (good for your health), but in a weird way you enjoy it even more (good for your sweet tooth) because it’s less routine.

Craft soft drinks do tend to be healthier, even if just a little. They’re normally made with real cane sugar instead of high fructose corn syrup— a fact which not only satisfies weight watchers but tastes much better. They usually have fewer preservatives (if any), tend to be 100% natural, and often come from smaller, more socially conscious and environmentally responsible companies.

What’s important here is how specialty soft drinks represent the larger trend of moving in the right direction in terms of American health. It’s not necessarily about eating/drinking ultra-healthy at all times; it’s about simply becoming more conscious of what’s put in your body. And it’s not about sticking it to Corporate America, but that by consuming less treats we can actually enjoy them more.

And, of course, it’s about drinking really, really good soda — one that pops when you taste it. Try a Boylan Bottleworks sometime. Any flavor. They are fantastic. Or find the brand that suits you best. Even though they’re labeled as “special” doesn’t mean they’re too hard to find, and not in Carrboro and Chapel Hill at least. You can find Boylans, among other more natural beverages, at almost every place that sells soft drinks in the area. Give it a shot. They’ll never be as big as Pepsi or Coke, but in another way, maybe they will.

[1] — Like a milkshake etc… (imagine your diet if you drank a milkshake at many of your meals).
[2] — If you think that line was awful, email me at
[3] — Again,