From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
TypeSoft drink
ManufacturerDr. Brown's
DistributorJ and R Bottling
Country of origin Brooklyn, New York, U.S.

Cel-Ray is a celery-flavored soft drink from Dr. Brown's. [1]


Dr. Brown's sodas are kosher, are often sold in Jewish delicatessens and restaurants, and can also be found in specialty grocers and grocery stores that specialize in American food in Israel.[2] 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.[3] 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.

In popular culture[edit]

Cel-Ray is mentioned in:

  • the 1954 children's novel Half Magic, by Edward Eager which is set in the 1920s. The children are intrigued by the "celery soda" available at their local soda shop.
  • the 1982 film Tootsie, not referred to as "Cel-Ray", rather "celery tonic" as the reason of what was spilled on the video tape and hence why a live performance of that day's show was required.
  • the Seinfeld season eight episode "The Pothole" Jerry said that he bruised his lip drinking a Cel-Ray by bringing it up too fast.
  • the US television show Gilmore Girls, season seven, episode five, "The Great Stink".
  • the film Serpico.
  • the book The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay as a favorite drink of Sammy Clay's father, the Molecule Man, or the World's Strongest Jew.
  • in the Bunheads television show episode "Blank Up, It's Time".
  • the Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention record album, Fillmore East – June 1971.
  • the film A Chorus Line, when Cassie and Larry eat lunch.
  • the book Games Wizards Play, by Diane Duane.
  • the character of Billy Rose (played by James Caan) in the 1975 film Funny Lady habitually drinks celery tonic, as an alternative to alcohol.
  • It is 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."
  • in the 2008 Richard Price novel Lush Life during a witness's account of a homicide.
  • in Boardwalk Empire, on screen in the season 3 episode "Two Imposters" with the characters Meyer Lansky and Lucky Luciano, and then in the season 5 episode, "Cuanto", when the character Mickey Doyle asks for the drink while taking a long-distance call from Cuba.
  • in the 2013 Hanya Yanagihara novel The People in the Trees, "Travelers heading west to California would stop in Peet for an egg salad sandwich and a celery soda from the general store near the station before reembarking." Yanagihara includes this as a marker of distinct time and geography.
  • in the 2004 novel Wake Up, Sir! by Jonathan Ames, it is the favorite drink of the narrator, the fictional writer Alan Blair.
  • in the 2013 novel Bleeding Edge by Thomas Pynchon, it is served at "a possibly make-believe Jewish delicatessen, Bagels 'n' Blintzes".
  • in History of the World, Part II in Season 1 Episode 3, a vendor offers Stalin a celery soda.
  • In 2013 book "The burglar who counted the spoons" of Lawrence Block.
  • In Aquarius (2015-2016), Season 2, Episode 6, "Revolution 9".

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Crowley, Chris E. (August 10, 2018). "Celery Forever: Where America's Weirdest Soda Came From and How It's Stuck Around". Serious Eats.
  2. ^ Popik, Barry (February 12, 2009). "Celery Soda or Celery Tonic (Dr. Brown's Cel-Ray soda)".
  3. ^ Nickell, Joe (2011). "'Pop' Culture: Patent Medicines Become Soda Drinks". Skeptical Inquirer. Committee for Skeptical Inquiry. 35 (1): 14–17.

External links[edit]