MONTROSS, Va. (WRIC) — Depending on who you ask, Northern Neck Ginger Ale is a local curiosity, a cure-all for colds and flu, or simply the best ginger ale you’ve ever tasted — but you won’t find it on grocery store shelves anymore.
That’s because during the early days of the pandemic, the Coca-cola corporation decided to end the soda’s 96 years of production in Westmoreland County.
Now, Stephanie Johnson is heading up a campaign to bring the iconic soda back to store shelves — an effort that’s won the support of many die-hard fans who grew up with the drink in their fridge.
“I used to drive past the coca-cola plant where it was made,” Johnson told 8News. “So it was one of those very proud moments to know that what I loved to drink was something that was made locally.”
The brand was originally produced by a local family, but was purchased by Coca-Cola in 2001. Johnson said that when she popped open her first coke-produced can, she thought it was a ‘bad batch.’ Still, she said, it was better than any other ginger ale on the market.
The drink is beloved in Virginia’s Northern Neck, and frequent users of the “Save Northern Neck Ginger Ale” Facebook page have taken to showcasing the cans they’ve managed to collect, and celebrating those suddenly discovered in an old fridge.
Johnson said without the soda, residents lacked a key medicinal option.
“Anytime you’re sick, you knew that Northern neck Ginger Ale was gonna make you better,” she said. “So you’d have chicken noodle soup and a ginger ale. That’s how I grew up, and I was fine the next day every single time.”
When news first broke that the soda had been discontinued, Johnson reached out to the Coca-Cola Company to find out why, but she still has more questions than answers.
“We haven’t gotten any response — that’s why we’re doing the campaign,” she said. “Me personally, I’m one of those people that I need some type of answer. Anything would be great — just something.”
The group is now circulating a petition calling on Coca-Cola to start production again. Richmond residents should keep an eye on the sky next month, as the group plans to put up a billboard on Oct. 3 at the corner of Broad and Boulevard.