Midwesterners Can't Get Enough Of This Lime-Flavored Soda

If you grew up or currently reside in the Midwest — especially in Chicago or its surrounding suburbs — chances are you've cracked open a bottle of Green River soda at some point in your lifetime. The kelly green-colored, lime-flavored, refreshingly effervescent pop has been an American emblem since Prohibition. According to the brand's official website, Green River hit market shelves in 1919 and was originally sold in old beer bottles, which otherwise would have remained empty due to the nationwide ban on alcohol sales. The emerald-hued drink became an instant hit, even inspiring an 8-year-old John Fogerty so much that he would eventually pen Creedence Clearwater Revival's famous 1969 Southern rock song entitled — you guessed it — "Green River" (per Ultimate Classic Rock).

How did the beloved beverage come to be? The first recipe for Green River was dreamt up in 1916 by a confectioner named Richard C. Jones from Davenport, Iowa, per Atlas Obscura. It was originally popular among Iowan teens who visited his ice cream shop. Eventually, Jones sold the formula in 1919 to Schoenhofen Edelweiss Brewing Company in Chicago's Pilsen neighborhood, which owned and manufactured the brand until the brewery closed its doors in 1950. Sprecher Brewing Company, the Milwaukee-based brewery best known for its craft root beer and other classic sodas, acquired the Green River brand in 2021, according to Milwaukee Magazine. Today, Green River remains a Midwest staple, particularly during the time of year when cities across America are painted green — literally and figuratively.

Green River is an iconic Midwestern treat, especially around St. Patrick's Day

More than a century has passed since the verdant beverage entered the world, and over the years, Green River's fame hasn't fizzled out. As a matter of fact, there was a time when Green River was outsold by only one of the world's biggest soda brands of all time. In the 1950s, Coca-Cola (which has, of course, enjoyed monumental success since its launch) was the nation's top-selling soft drink, while Green River ranked at a close second, according to Thrillist. It has become somewhat of a cult favorite, providing a jolt of sugary energy while bringing consumers back to pleasant childhood memories. And if you have any hint of Irish blood, you're likely familiar with this feeling.

There is one festive occasion during which Green River has historically enjoyed its highest sales period — and Chicagoans of Irish descent surely know what it is. Each year in celebration of St. Patrick's Day, the Chicago River is temporarily dyed a vivid shade of green. The Windy City has kept up this colorful tradition since 1962, when the Chicago Journeymen Plumbers Local Union dumped 100 pounds of environmentally friendly dye into the waterway, according to the Illinois Office of Tourism. Perhaps surprising to no one, the weeks surrounding St. Paddy's Day yield massive sales for Green River as Irish-Americans stock up on the carbonated sensation to prepare for parties, parades, and other celebratory get-togethers with friends and family. Back in 2016, Thrillist reported that about a third of the product's yearly sales occur on and around March 17.

Green River tastes great alone but also makes an incredible mixer

Next time you're craving a drink that's bubbly, mysteriously fruity, nostalgia-inducing, and just so happens to resemble a precious jewel, you may want to indulge in a cold glass of Green River. Thankfully, if you want to jazz things up just a bit, Green River also makes an awesome cocktail ingredient, adding a bright punch of lime zest — not to mention a striking tinge of green — to any drink. For instance, at your upcoming St. Patrick's Day shindig, you could whip up some "Fogerty's Fave" cocktails à la Flora Fauna in Chicago. The Near North Side restaurant's recipe calls for blanco tequila, white grapefruit juice, lime juice, salt for the rim, and last but not least, a splash of Green River, per Chicago Magazine.

There are also plenty of booze-free, kid-friendly libations in which Green River is the star. If you're in the mood for a sweeter treat, you could concoct a frothy, velvety Green River float. Simply fill a chilled glass or frosted mug with a couple of scoops of your favorite vanilla ice cream or lime sherbet, pour some Green River over the top, and voila! You have an effortlessly delicious, drinkable dessert perfect for all the lads and lasses. No matter how you prefer to sip on Green River — whether all by its exuberant self or infused into a spirited beverage recipe — you're sure to feel as lucky as a leprechaun. If you're tasting Green River for the first time, prepare for your taste buds to jig.