Dr. Brown’s Cel-Ray Tonic – The Big Exception

March 16th, 2013 § 2 comments

HG loathes all of the popular, incessantly advertised, heavily sugared, artificially sweetened and chemically infused carbonated beverages. Coke, Pepsi, Sprite, Dr. Pepper, etc. To HG they seem to be part of a health destroying plot against the American people. Principals in the plot are the evil profiteers who stock the supermarket shelves with these nasty drinks and their collaborators, the “snack” manufacturers. (Recently they have been joined by the brewers of the “energy” drinks — a la Red Bull). HG looks with dismay as women, accompanied by children, wheel their supermarket carts laden with these vile objects. Do they hate their kids? Have they been brainwashed by television hucksters? In the interests of full disclosure and intellectual honesty, HG must admit to a twice-a-year fall from grace. That’s when HG eats a traditional overstuffed Jewish pastrami sandwich in New York (at Katz’s or Carnegie Deli). What Sauterne is to foie gras and Burgandy is to steak — that’s what Dr. Brown’s Cel-Ray Tonic is to pastrami. The companion made in heaven. Of course, Cel-Ray reeks of fraud. It’s flavored with some kind of celery seed extract — not nice, fresh, healthy celery. It certainly isn’t a tonic. (Okay, okay. At some point the FDA made the manufacturers stop calling it a tonic and label it as “Soda.”) And, HG suspects Dr. Brown’s medical school credentials. Nevertheless, when eating pastrami the drink seems to be just what the doctor ordered — the pungent, almost peppery flavor is the perfect foil for the juicy fat of perfect pastrami. It is a very Jewish beverage and only found where Jews abound — New York and South Florida. You can also find it in such Los Angeles heartburn heavens as Langer’s, Canter’s and Nate and Al’s. Cel-Ray had its birth in Brooklyn in 1868 and for generations was known as “Jewish Champagne.” Pass the pickles and sour tomatoes, please.

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