|Distributor||J and R Bottling|
|Country of origin||Brooklyn, New York|
Cel-Ray is a celery flavored soft drink from Dr Brown's. It is fairly easy to find in New York City and in South Florida, but rather obscure elsewhere. It can sometimes be found at Jewish delicatessens and restaurants and can also be found in specialty grocers and grocery stores that specialize in American food in Israel. The flavor, derived from celery seed extract, is reminiscent of ginger ale but with a pronounced celery flavor that is more pungent or peppery than ginger ale.
Dr. Brown’s Celery Tonic was, according to the company, first produced in 1868 in Brooklyn, New York. It was served in New York delicatessens starting in 1869 and sold as a bottled soda starting in 1886. The Food and Drug Administration objected to its being called a “tonic”, and in the 1900s the name was changed to Dr. Brown’s Cel-Ray (soda). Cel-Ray was so popular in the 1930s among New York City's Jewish community that it earned the nickname "Jewish Champagne". Dr. Brown’s briefly produced a diet Cel-Ray, but it was discontinued due to low sales. Other “celery tonics"/"celery sodas” were produced in the 1890s, but only Dr. Brown’s celery product remains today.
Dr. Brown’s sodas are kosher and can be found in many delicatessens.
Cel-Ray was mentioned in:
- the Seinfeld season eight episode, "The Pothole";
- the US television show Gilmore Girls, season seven, episode five, "The Great Stink";
- the non-fiction work Serpico; and
- in the Bunheads television show episode "Blank Up, It's Time";
- the Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention record album, The Mothers at the Fillmore-1971.
It was featured in an episode of Brad Tries... in 2011; Brad Jones thought it was fine on its own, but found it delicious after sipping it following a bite of peanut butter. The character of Billy Rose (played by James Caan) in the 1975 film Funny Lady habitually drank celery tonic, as an alternative to alcohol. It was used as a plot point joining assistant Harriet Smith and senator James Elton in the web series "Emma Approved", written and directed by the makers of "The Lizzie Bennet Diaries".
- Nickell, Joe (2011). "'Pop' Culture: Patent Medicines Become Soda Drinks". Skeptical Inquirer (Committee for Skeptical Inquiry) 35 (1): 14–17.
- Popik, Barry (February 12, 2009). "Celery Soda or Celery Tonic (Dr. Brown's Cel-Ray soda)".
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