The Unofficial Drink of North Jersey: Brookdale Soda

by Peter Candia
brookdale soda factory

If you grew up in North Jersey between the 60s and early 80s, you might remember Brookdale Soda—it may have even been your preferred soft drink. Not Coca-Cola, not Pepsi or Royal Crown, but Brookdale Soda—right out of Clifton and Bloomfield, NJ. 

The 28-ounce glass bottles were oblong, with an iconic combination of script and bold fonts that were reminiscent of the time. No matter the flavor (and there were over 30 of them), the label read the same: “The pride of The Garden State.” And that was pretty much true. 

brookdale easter

Photos from Brookdale Beverage

Superfans in a blog dedicated to Brookdale Soda, talk about their experiences with the soft drink growing up in Jersey. New Jerseyans loved Brookdale Soda and when they traveled out of state and couldn’t find it, they were devastated. 

Like the milkman, Brookdale Soda would make deliveries to your doorstep. Wooden cases of 12 glass bottles dropped off at your feet for you and your family’s enjoyment. Maybe you’re devout to one flavor, or maybe you get 12 different ones each time. One thing was always for certain: Brookdale Soda was one of a kind. It was a unique product for a unique area and that’s why it was so beloved. 

I, of course, am too young to have ever tasted the nectar of New Jersey, but my father often tells me of his childhood drinking the stuff. His friend had a constant delivery of Brookdale to his home. Whenever my father went over (which was often), they’d crack a cold, fizzy Brookdale. “It was like none other,” he tells me and who am I to disagree? Brookdale fans speak of the soda so highly that even I, born a decade after its disappearance, feel like I’ve tasted it. Seriously, ask someone in their 50s or 60s from North Jersey and chances are they’ll recall detailed accounts of the many flavors, the sound of cracking one open, and even the structure of the bubbles.

As far as flavors go, Brookdale had something for everyone. Cola, birch beer, celery, kola (yes, it’s different), cherry pit, grape, and even one called Tom Collins Mixer—which was probably aimed at the parents. They were constantly innovating and coming up with new flavors too. In a 2009 blog post, a fan recounts memories of trying new flavors made by her father and grandfather

Brookdale Soda Advertisement

Photos from Brookdale Soda

Brookdale was more than just something to enjoy—it was a local company empowering blue-collar workers in North Jersey. It was a universally loved business that blossomed hyper-locally. Along with the joy it brought its customers, Brookdale brought work and opportunity to thousands of people in New Jersey.

Brookdale Soda is emblematic of a different time. Quite frankly, a time that is long gone. A local soda company providing beverages to the area right alongside the massive conglomerates. Imagine that? In the days when blue-collar work shined bright and the beverage monopolies were in their infancy, local brands were still able to thrive. Brookdale Soda was sold to new owners in 1987. By 1988, the pride of the Garden State was gone and Brookdale Soda dissolved. Its legend lives on through those who grew up on it and with any luck, maybe we will see it again. 

Do you remember Brookdale Soda? What was your favorite flavor? Let us know in the comments below!

About the Author/s

All posts

Peter Candia is the Food + Drink Editor at New Jersey Digest. A graduate of The Culinary Institute of America, Peter found a passion for writing midway through school and never looked back. He is a former line cook, server and bartender at top-rated restaurants in the tri-state area. In addition to food, Peter enjoys politics, music, sports and anything New Jersey.

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George Kahwaty April 1, 2023 - 11:13 am

My 2 favorite Brookdale soda was Birch Beer
It will always have my heart

Paula April 1, 2023 - 1:12 pm

Regarding Brookdale Soda—- I have MANY memories of enjoying Brookdale Soda. I would go with my father to pick up cases for our home and for special occasions. We would have tons of bbq’s and going to pick out our sodas was my favorite part. I loved choosing from all the different flavors. Cream and black cherry were my favorites. I also remember lime. I grew up in Bloomfield and we didn’t live far from the Bloomfield location. I also remember going to one I think in Belleville/Newark. My parents still had the blue plastic container we would bring back and forth for refills. Thank you for this article. It brought back so many great memories.

Bob Parisi April 2, 2023 - 8:24 am

I lived in Lodi NJ. I recall Brookdale but our area was able to experience Whooppee Soda Works in Garfield NJ. They has the flavors and the delivery and delivered beer for my Dad weekly. Those were great times and we are seeing somewhat of a resurgence courtesy of Covid. How about some words for Whooppee!!

George depaul April 2, 2023 - 4:12 pm

Brings back wonderful memories of my childhood and my father and I going to bloomfield to purchase several cases of Brookdale soda the rootbeer soda was my favorite what a different world that was .

Jeanette Stella April 23, 2023 - 8:17 pm

Sarsparilla and cream soda

Nancy April 3, 2023 - 9:40 pm

Actually we always called it Brookdale Beverage! And Cream was my favorite. Loved the article!

Deb April 4, 2023 - 8:22 pm

I grew up on Fairway right behind the store. I was fortunate to work for Mr. Pieretti as a cashier in the Bloomfield and Clifton stores. Mr Pieretti was kind, generous, a good businessman and treated all his employees with respect. My favorite soda was black cherry. Thank you for your article which brought back such great memories of a much simpler time.

Bob Shindle April 6, 2023 - 7:12 pm

Debbie- This is Bob Shindle. I was the manager of the store when you were cashier! Omg! So happy to hear you respond. What great times. A great company and wonderful people the Pieretti’s were. Hope you are well. [email protected]

Robert Ostella April 7, 2023 - 12:23 pm

I loved Brookdale soda. We would get a case every week.

jacqueline barbato April 7, 2023 - 12:30 pm

Brookdale soda reminds me of going to my Aunt Theresa’s! Orange soda and her Italian cooking just went perfect together. It was such a big deal to us as kids. I thought it was the best thing ever that she kept it in her back room that lead to downstairs and it was always cold even though it wasn’t refrigerated. The good ól days. When simple things meant so much

LindaAnn April 7, 2023 - 9:33 pm

I loved going to Brookdale with my parents & a case of empty Brookdale soda bottles. We then all chose flavors to bring home a new case. Fun family thing to do & wonderful memories! My faves were black cherry & cola & creme.

Michele April 10, 2023 - 4:31 pm

What great memories. I grew up down the block from Brookdale Beverage and every other Saturday we’d go and get a case of soda. Birch beer, orange, grape and half and half were favorites in our family. Thanks for the memories.

Stephen Kern May 20, 2023 - 9:10 pm

I grew up in Bloomfield during the 70s and 80 drinking Brookdale Soda. My favorites were Birch Beer and Orange.

Robert Donlan June 13, 2023 - 2:50 pm

Our neighbors, the Mennellas always had a case or two in their basement. I was so envious. I thought they must be rich. Once or twice a summer Mrs Mennella made homemade pizza for the neighborhood kids accompanied by Brookdale soda. Life couldn’t have been any better!!

denise August 17, 2023 - 2:44 pm

Believe I still have a bottle never opens

Cameron Hall September 24, 2023 - 10:09 pm

I remember back in the late 70xs into the early 80’s drinking Brookdale soda. I worked summers for the DPW in Westfield and the soda machine had several varieties for a whopping 25 cents a can. They were as delicious as everyone else has claimed.

Adriane Eoga October 5, 2023 - 10:06 am

My Italian family would gather around the dinner table every Sunday afternoon. I distinctly remember the Brookdale soda bottles being passed around the table. Gingerale was the most prominent flavor but every so often, if we were good, my grandma would get us a bottle of orange Brookdale soda.

Brookdale soda was an icon of my childhood.

Pete Avallone November 8, 2023 - 3:01 am

Best soda ever. We would pick ours up at Home Liquors in Morristown. If you never had it, you missed a real treat! Can only hope it makes a comeback!

NEREIDA RODRIGUEZ November 18, 2023 - 11:14 pm

I had eleven family members that worked at the Brookdale Soda factory in NJ. They were: my father Manuel, my brother Juan, my uncles William, Enrique, Jose, Carlitos, Gaspar and Luis. My cousins Rafael, Donato and Mario. They all lived in New York City. I was 9 years old when I came to this country which was on October 25, 1966 but my father was in this country years before he sent for us and worked at the Brookdale Soda factory. I remember that the workers were given free cases of the Brookdale Soda to take home. All the flavors were delicious. My favorites were the fruit punch, lime and the orange flavors.


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