Insider’s Guide to Carbonated Fountain Drinks in Provo

Eliza has been a soda expert for years. She's here to take your small faces in her hands and tenderly drop some fat knowledge on all y'all. Here is Eliza Campbell's Insider's Guide to Carbonated Fountain Drinks in Provo.

1) The Chevron Extra Mart on Canyon

It’s here that I’ll identify myself as a Diet Dr. Pepper (DDP) enthusiast. The story of how that came to be is material for another rock opera, but suffice it to say that it was the wily charms of this particular Chevron station that turned me. Chevron’s blend of DDP sets the standard by which I measure the timbre, flavor, and voice of its counterparts at other stations. The ratio of syrup to soda water is particularly well-balanced, leading to a mellow yet tangy flavor that brings to mind the sweetness of a particularly delicious baked good, perhaps one crushed beneath the weight of a gentle hug from an enormous teddy bear.

2) The Conoco on Bulldog

The distinction between “chewy” ice (CHI) and “crunchy” ice (CRI) is important here. Anatomically speaking, we’re looking at two kinds of ice, but psychologically speaking, the difference is crucial, possibly even medical in nature. CRI is your standard ice, something that flows freely out of Subway cups the world over – simple square or circular cubes. A request for CHI – smaller, ‘ground-up’ ice molecules - might raise a few eyebrows around the uninformed fountain pump. Consider it a bit more of a novelty, a bit more specialized, maybe like an organic baseball hat. Conoco does regular, and Conoco does specialty. Count your blessings that we live in a world of such equal opportunity – and then indulge yourself in two kinds of ice.

3) 7/11 On University

The seasoned Provo-ite will be most likely to recommend this bustling downtown refill-o-rama, the 7/11 on University Avenue that has become a local standard. Your Provoite might even that they have a close friend working the taps. “Oh, I hope Raj* is there!” they’ll say, rolling down the window of their Chevy Tahoe in anticipation. Roll they will, and roll they should. Raj’s superstardom is not to be taken lightly. This local celebrity holds the reins of his refill taps like the John Wayne of aspartame, and the product of his close attention is one of the most challenging and innovative blends of DDP I have ever experience: a sort of bold, biting refreshment, highly drinkable, with a smoky, almost wistful aftertaste. The entire experience, of course, may demand that give in to the ‘cliché’ 7/11 fare and indulge in the store’s local specialty: any of the inviting Taquitos. If you’re going to go for the trendy downtown scene, you may as well go all the way.

4) Crest on 9th East

Now comes an awkward yet important question to ask in polite company: what is, in fact, ‘fun for the whole family’? Steak? Go-Carts? Caffeinated soda? Non-caffeinated soda? Those who abstain from caffeine might answer that their beverage is in fact, more fun. These caffeine kosher-ites tend to frequent this Crest, particularly because of its residential location and its reputation of firm Sunday closure. In the opinion of most experienced refillers, myself included, this only adds to the charmingly-traditional feel and flavor of this particular venue. Diet Coke is obviously the local specialty, along with its caffeine-free alternative. But the most charming aspect of the Crest experience comes in its drive-thru service: its employees can take the most complicated of orders through their small service window, even going as far as to adjust ice level to a precise degree.

5) Will’s Pit Stop

Welcome to the other part of town. Here, on the rough-ridin’ outskirts of north Provo, people prepare to leave. Think of this last pit stop as a kind of biker bar, or maybe a saloon. A vast selection of rough-and-tumble amenities includes local staples, including an inspiring array of beef jerky. Chat with your fellow travelers about their next destination: where are they headed? How many trailers have they managed to fit on their 4X4? How, in fact, does one wear a cowboy hat and Tevas at the same time? The answers to these questions and more are just part of conversation at Will’s. While you conversate, I’ll be in fillin’ up on one of the sweetest DDP blends there is. Will’s DDP reminds me of why I fell in love with my drink to begin with. At the end of the day, I love Diet Dr. Pepper because it tastes like fear, relentless energy, an affinity for loud music. It tastes like the open road.

Eliza Campbell embraces the gas station zeitgeist.

*This article was written at a time when Raj still frequently appeared in the 7/11. Does anybody know where that dude is? We miss him...


Michael said...

This article has been very informative, as a soda enthusiast myself, I have to wonder, how can you combat the unavoidable watered-down-64oz-mountain-dew-because-I-didn't-drink-it-fast-enough issue?

The only answer that I can find to this question is to use whiskey stones. Do you have any experience with them? If you don't use stones, how do you keep your drink from becoming diluted? This is a much bigger problem than we all realize and should be addressed.

redneckzilla said...

Michael: Whiskey stones are an EXCELLENT idea. To this point I had simply been going ice-less which is alright in some circumstances but very bad for sharing and warm days.

Another alternative I've contemplated is dry ice. I do not know if I'd like my drink to look like some sort of faux witch's brew, such that one might see in an early to mid-90's childrens' network television show, though.

Bing said...

Now... I'm about to share a secret with you folks, a secret I learned in the depths of Sonic as an underpaid employee: more ice = less watery. You see, when you go easy on the ice, the drink is warmer which means that the ice melts. That, my friend, is straight out of the employee handbook, and I might be assassinated for sharing company secrets.

eliza.e.campbell said...

I think we're all dancing around an issue that's staring us in the face like Raj on a Sunday: when we pay for a drink, are we, in effect, paying for the ice? Who are these big ice fat cats? How much should we be willing to support drilling for ice in Alaska, with all of its environmental risks?

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