A DIY soda experience, 23 soda samples and the water that Elvis loved…

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So many sodas to be sampled./Martha Benedict

Galco’s Soda Pop Stop is ramping up its soda-sipping offerings for its now annual Summer Soda Tasting event – to be held Sunday, July 28 from 5 pm – 8pm – and will also introduce a one-of-a-kind soda making experience to the public.

As if having more than 500 choices of soda flavors wasn’t enough, Galco’s unveils this Sunday its Soda Creation Station, a DIY experience where folks can pretend they are soda masters as they select flavors, set carbonation levels and cap their own 12 oz. bottle of “Yep, It’s My Own Original” soda pop blend.

Galco’s owner John Nese has been planning the new area for years now, having removed part of his old deli and freezer to make way for Soda Creation Station which features rows of syrups, a carbonation machine and a bottle capper.

The whole soda making process should only take a few minutes, says Nese who adds that probably the longest part of the Soda Creation Station is deciding which flavors to mix out of the 80 possible ones – you can choose up to nine “pumps” per bottle. (Not that you would want to do nine, unless you were 9-years-old.)

Bottle your own at Soda Creation Station/Martha Benedict

“It’s going to be a fun place to come with families and friends,” he says adding that this permanent area will be a draw for those wanting to create original homemade sodas for birthday parties, weddings and other special occasions.

Given the expected event crowds, Nese is limiting the flavors that folks can use in order at the Soda Creation Station to keep the lines moving smoothly. There’s also going to be a “one bottle per person” limit as well. (Come Monday morning, if you want to come back and sample all other flavors, you are more than welcome, he says.)

Of course, soda-lovers will enjoy other unique offerings at this year’s Summer Soda Tasting 3 (SST3) which is turning into an annual fundraising event with  proceeds directly going to support the work of the Friends of the Southwest Museum Coalition (FoSMC).

A whopping 23 soda brands (the most ever offered) from all over the world will be available for sip testing: Bundaberg sodas from Australia, Texas’ popular Hippo sodas and a surprise reboot of O-So Sodas, the classic pop from the 1940s.

In addition to sodas, Mountain Valley Water from Hot Springs, Arkansas, will be poured. That water has the illustrious claim to fame as being the official water of the White House since the 1920s as well as what Elvis Presley insisted on drinking before he performed.

Local talent will perform at this year’s SST3 including:

  • Event opens with The Mele ‘Ohana Ukulele  Group
  • Don Preston and Bunk Gardner from the Mothers of Invention (Frank Zappa)
  • Singing sensation 15-year-old Genesee Hall
  • Fly By Night Blues Band lead by Greger Walnum

Finally, soda lovers will also get a first taste of the newest flavor in Galco’s White Rose line of soda pop. Cherry joins cream soda and root beer in the Galco’s private line of sodas; all proceeds of sales of White Rose sodas throughout the year benefit the FoSMC.

Nese points out that this event benefits the FoSMC as his business supports the goal of having Los Angeles’ first museum opened once again to the public full time and permanent.

Hippo Size sodas/Martha Benedict

The Southwest Museum, founded by Charles Fletcher Lummis, operated successfully for over 100 years.  It’s listed on the National Register of Historic Places and as a Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument.

The Southwest Museum and the Autry Museum of the American West merged in 2003.  Autry closed the Southwest in 2005 for exhibitions and then closed the entire museum to the public in 2009.

Today, the Southwest Museum collection is not accessible by the public and is currently being relocated outside of Los Angeles to the City of Burbank. The Autry has recently reinstated public viewing of a few artifacts in the museum building’s small lobby hallway for six hours each Saturday but has no plans for re-opening the entire museum displaying the vast and impressive collection.

The Friends of the Southwest Museum was created in 2003 to advocate that L.A.’s first museum stay in its original rightful home as a museum resource for the community, City and nation. When it was open, the Southwest Museum welcomed school children, scholars and international visitors to learn more about the legacy of America’s Southwest.  It can again become a key museum destination for Southern California, one that is easily accessible by mass transit for everyone to enjoy.

Tickets for the Summer Soda Tasting are $12 in advance, $15 the day of the event. Children ages 3-11 will be charged $5.  Tickets can be purchase at Galco’s or online via the Friends of the Southwest Museum, www.friendsofthesouthwestmuseum.com.   Galco’s is located at 5702 York Boulevard, Highland Park, 90042.