Here’s an experiment for you: Find the nearest East Coaster and utter the word ‘soda’ in front of them. Watch carefully as they do a double-take, sputter, and cough- staring at you as though you’ve uttered a curse word. You will find that you experience equally hilarious results if you find a Southerner and utter the word ‘pop’. Though there will always be a miniature civil war between the ‘pop’ and ‘soda’ regions across the U.S., that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy these fizzy delights. And, just like these words vary state to state, so do the specialty soda and/or pop choices. Check out our picks for some unique craft sodas across the U.S.:

Moxie soda

Photo Credit: Moxie

Moxie

Although this soda was originally invented in Massachusetts, it has been dubbed the official soft drink of Maine. Its bitter taste with a slightly sweet undertone could be called an acquired taste by some, but it has certainly been acquired by a lot of the east coast. Not only is this drink found in Maine, but it can also be found in states like New Hampshire, Vermont, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and even Pennsylvania. It was created in 1876 and actually helped to popularize the term ‘moxie’- not the other way around.

Big Red

This soft drink originated in Texas in 1937 and was the first red-hued cream soda in history. The drink was originally called Sun Tang Red Cream Soda, which just rolls off the tongue so much easier than Big Red, right? The flavor is commonly compared to Bazooka bubble gum, though it is more technically a blend of citrus and vanilla. Today, Big Red is distributed by Dr. Pepper so it can be found in a few states throughout the South- including Kentucky and Southern Indiana.

Ski Soda

Photo Credit: Ski

Ski

Ski was invented in the 1950s during America’s soda boom in Tennessee. It is currently distributed by the Double Cola Co. and can be found throughout the Midwest and Southwest. Its inclusion of real orange and lemon juice sets it apart from it’s artificially flavored equivalents. There is also a cherry flavored variant of this summery soft drink called Ski InfraRED, which is slightly rarer and found in only select locations like Utah and Alaska.

Cheerwine Soda

Photo Credit: Cheerwine

Cheerwine

This soda was created in 1917 in North Carolina during the WWI-induced sugar shortage. Overcoming the odds, inventor L.D. Peeler created Cheerwine which was the world’s first bottled cherry soda. The business is still family-owned to this day, passed down through five generations. Sometimes referred to as the ‘Nectar of North Carolina’ it is the, “oldest continuing soft drink company still run by the same family,” according to the Salisbury Post. The flavoring is so popular in the South that is has inspired recipes for barbecue sauces, salad dressings, cakes, ice cream flavors, and even a Krispy Kreme donut flavor.

Faygo Soda

Photo Credit: Faygo

Faygo

Faygo was originally founded by two Russian immigrant bakers, Ben and Perry Feigenson, in 1922. At the time they’d only produced three flavors which were meant to go along with cake flavors- grape, strawberry, and fruit punch. Today there are over 40 flavors of the drink with increasingly distinct names, including Redpop, Black Cherry, Rock N’ Rye, Jazzin’ Blues Berry, and Ohana Punches. Though it was created in Detroit, it can now be found throughout the Mid-Atlantic, Midwest, and Central Southern regions.

Nugrape Soda

Photo Credit: Walmart

NuGrape

First invented in 1906 in Atlanta, Georgia, NuGrape became a commercial success in 1922. Although it has been acquired by various larger soda companies at this point (including Big Red and Moxie), they’re still using their original recipe which includes real sugar and artificial grape flavoring. Today it can be found in candy and grocery stores throughout the Southeast.

Boylan Soda

Photo Credit: Boylan

Boylan

This soda originated in New Jersey and is now 128 years old, having been invented in 1891. The bottles have kept their old school and classic design and the soda has a quality flavor that includes black cherry, ginger ale, and root beer. They also produce a line of diet sodas and seltzers that echo the same quality that they accomplished with their original recipe.

For some people, a scented candle is the gift that keeps on giving. When they open the package and see the ‘lavender blossom’ wonder sitting at the base of the box, their eyes shine like a kid on Christmas morning. To those people, you’ve just given them many relaxing evenings of knitting, reading, and binging their latest Netflix obsession in total Hygge bliss. But, for everyone else, this is the reason we rehearse our surprise faces. You may think of them as a safe choice, but there are many other classic gifts that don’t force the smell of Eucalyptus onto unsuspecting relatives and friends:

Mugs

1) Mugs

Mugs are a great option because…well… we all drink something, right? And even for the non-coffee, tea, or hot chocolate drinkers of the world (if there are any of you out there) mugs are a great decorative feature for a desk at your office. And there are so many out there that it’s very easy to find one that’s more personalized. Your friend a cinephile or TV junkie? Get them a Game of Thrones mug. Are they a sports fan? Get them a Steelers mug or whomever else they incorrectly support. Does your friend spend more time between pages than they do speaking to humans? There’s a Harry Potter mug out there with their name on it (no really, you could probably find one with their name on it. People love Harry Potter).

2) A Watch

Another classic gift that anyone would enjoy is a watch. Yes, we know everyone can tell time on their phones now. And they have calculators, too so our high school math knowledge is now also utterly useless. However, watches are still a stylish accessory that any person can enjoy- from lovers of vintage style to those who want to feel like James Bond with the latest in watch tech. You can even find watches customized with various engravings, fandom images, and even people’s birthstones- you know, because people love knowing you remember their birthday.

3) Wine/Whiskey/Beer Glass

We’re going to make a bold statement and say that virtually any drinker can be split into one of these categories: wine drinker, whiskey drinker, or beer drinker. If you know your friend well enough (and we’re assuming that you do since you’re buying them a gift in the first place) you’ll know which of these three categories they’ll fall under. And, again, this is another category of gifting where you can find a lot of more personal pieces. Whether you want to get them a really sleek and classic whiskey set or a wine glass with a Shakespeare sonnet- it’s out there and ripe for the drinking.

Plants

4) A Plant

Ask yourself one simple question before proceeding: How responsible is your friend? If you just wrinkled your eyebrows and shrugged, this may not be the classic gift for your friend. Even if your friend is responsible, there’s still an 80% chance that the plant will die within the first month- yes, that is a totally real statistic. But, if given to the right person, it’s the perfect way to brighten up a room and fill a home with a sweet and relaxing aroma. Who needs essential oils or candles when you can have a real lavender plant? And, for the less responsible friends, there are plants like Aloe Vera that will match their low maintenance personalities.

5) Tea or Coffee

Again, we’re making a large generalization, but the world can typically be split into these two groups (if you disagree, fight us). If you have a friend who is especially enthused by either category, a great gift would be to get them an assortment of various higher quality flavorings or even from their favorite brand (if you can remember the name… it’s on the tip of your tongue). Arrange them into a cute little gift basket and you’ll have them smiling for oolong time.

6) Desserts

Another classic gift that people can’t get enough of- food. Here’s the first question you need to ask: can you get away with making this your whole gift? Depends on your relationship with the person. If they’re an acquaintance then you definitely can, but for close friends (unless you make a giant basket filled to the brim with sweet confections), probably not. And even then your friend will probably get mad at you for trying to kill them with cookies. But this is a great mini-addition if you’re having the anxiety that you didn’t get someone enough gifts is setting in.

7) A Throw Blanket

It’s soft, warm, cozy, and cuddly- who wouldn’t want a throw blanket? We honestly can’t imagine anyone ever feeling like they have enough of these lying around. And, presuming that you’ve been to this person’s house before, you’ll likely be able to find one the perfect color to complement their living room. If you’ve been there before, but your brain is refusing to recall what color their couch is- white, brown, or gray are typically safe options.

8) A Wallet

This is an amazing gift because no one wants to spend money on one of these themselves. A wallet is for putting money in, but no one wants to put money into purchasing one. If this is the route you think you want to go, though, you’ll need to start paying attention when this friend pulls out their wallet. The last thing you want to do is get the wrong size for their needs so check to see if they have cash spilling out over it or if they have a bunch of unused space. CAUTION: If you’re not stealthy enough, your friend may think you’re trying to steal money from them.

Board Games

9) A Board Game/Card Game

This is an especially fun option because it’s not simply a gift, it’s several nights worth of memories yet to come. And there are a lot of really quirky options you can find nowadays, from What Do You Meme to Exploding Kittens.

Just make sure you keep in mind the prospective person’s number of friends and friend group dynamic when you’re searching for the best option. If you purchase a game made for 6-12 players and your friend only has 4 good friends, this gift suddenly becomes an unwelcome reminder which will gather dust on their shelf.

10) Cash

People may call this gift impersonal, but we ask you this: name one person who has ever been upset when handed money. Go on, we’ll wait.

11) Socks

Before you groan or chuckle, hear us out. Socks have been stereotyped as the ‘bad gift’ for years now and, honestly, we think they just got a bad rep because of bratty kids in movies. What adult wouldn’t want a nice, cozy pair of socks to hug their feet all warm and snug? Also, there are so many great and personalized sock options out there nowadays, you can get anything from Taco socks to Breaking Bad socks. You may scoff, but never underestimate the power of good sock game.

As a parent, we all know the difficulties of trying to magically transform boring into fun. We all know the impossible struggle of making broccoli taste like candy, of turning clean-up into play time, of making reading feel like screen time, and even of turning tooth brushing into a party in their mouths. Although we’ll never be able to make veggies taste like cupcakes, we do have the power to transform toothbrushing time into a fun activity. So, parents, pull out your magic wands and let’s get started:

parent and child brushing teeth

1) Make it a Game

One way to make brushing fun for your child is to invent a game around it. Standing around brushing for two minutes is boring, but what if your child was a superhero fighting off the plaque monsters or the sugar bugs? All of a sudden, what was once a chore becomes a hero’s mission. To add to the fun, give your child a cape and mask to dawn on when brushing time comes around. It’ll make them not only want to brush but excited to do it. And the best part- once you establish what the game is, it’ll stick and become an easy part of your daily routine. Also, if your child happens to have a sibling, you can create a little friendly competition to see which of them can defeat the most plaque monsters.

2) When in Doubt, Dance it Out

If your child loves music, make brushing something they’re excited about by making it a dance party. Put on your kiddo’s favorite music and dance it out while you brush your teeth together. Having you also participate helps because kids tend to mimic their parents and it’ll be something the two of you can bond over as well. There are even some fun Youtube videos you can dance along with:

There are also some Apps you could use to make the party more fun. One app called “Brush DJ” plays music for you while your child brushes. It plays for the duration of the recommended two minutes and you can race against the clock to get all the brushing and dancing done before the time’s up. There’s also an app called “Star Teeth” which allows your child to pick a character who encourages them as they brush their teeth.

girl brushing teeth

3) Offer Rewards

We know bribery can be a bit sketchy. If you were rewarding your child with a toy everytime they brushed, you’d go broke in a month. But don’t worry, there’s an easier way to reward your child. Purchase or print our a fun calendar and buy a pack of stickers you think your child will enjoy. Then tell them that you’ll be giving them a sticker everytime they brush their teeth. After they’re given a sticker, have them place their sticker on that day on the calendar. Finally, decide what type of reward system you want to do. So, for example, you could say that everytime your child completed a full week of stickers he/she would get a new toy. Or after a month of full stickers, they get to go to their favorite amusement park or restaurant. This way your child gets to strive toward a larger goal and toothbrushing become a means of earning things that they love.

4) Use Toys

We all know that our kids have their favorite toys that they can’t go anywhere without, so why not get them a fun toothbrushing toy? Jokari’s Sprouting Whale Faucet Fountain is perfect for this. Every time your child brushes, you can attach the whale to the faucet to get them ready for a toothbrushing adventure.

You could also purchase your child a toy that you know they’ll love- perhaps one of their favorite television or book characters as well as a new toothbrush. When you present the toy to your child, let them know that the toy will be a toothbrushing buddy for them. And then it becomes a nightly ritual where your child and the toy go in and brush their teeth together (though you’ll probably have to give the toy a little help).

Father and daughter brushing teeth

5) Let them be in Charge

As a child, you’re constantly feeling like everything is being done for you when all you want to do is proclaim your independence. There’s no better way to make something more appealing than by making it feel like it’s something they can do on their own. Let your child pick out their own toothbrush and toothpaste. Try to find one that has one of their favorite characters or an animal that they love, and try to find toothpaste with a flip top instead of a screw top (just make sure you monitor them when putting toothpaste on themselves). Then, once you have taught them to brush on their own, don’t help them, just stay close by to cheer them on. Let them do every step- picking up their brush, putting the toothpaste on, running water, brushing, etc. Maybe even do it along with them on your own as well. This helps your child to feel independent and capable, which is something kids don’t get to feel very often.

Although the activity of standing in front of a mirror and brushing for two minutes can be rather boring, with your magical parental powers you can transform it into something your child will look forward to each day. And that’s the tooth!