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If you look at the green and yellow packaging, it's understandable to assume Squirt is another lemon-lime-flavored soda. But although Squirt has a citrusy taste, it's noticeably different from well-known lemon-lime sodas such as Sprite, Starry, and 7Up. If you can't quite put your finger on it, it's probably because the makers of Squirt have been vague about its flavor from the beginning. A print ad from 1963 claimed the soda gets its flavor from "premium Southwest citrus," as did a television commercial that same year. By 1984, advertising was even less specific, saying the flavor came from a special "squirt fruit." And even though Squirt no longer keeps the source of the flavor under wraps, some current cans are still labeled as "naturally flavored citrus soda."
Although it's clear that Squirt is at least citrus flavored, what you might not realize is that the soda is made with grapefruit juice, not lemon, lime, or a combination of different citrus fruits. Until 1977, Squirt was made with whole grapefruits, but today, only concentrated grapefruit juice is listed on the ingredients label for the original, Ruby Red, and Zero Sugar varieties.
Read more: The 14 Best Sugar-Free Sodas Ranked
The Original Reason Squirt Was Made With Grapefruit
With so many lemon-lime sodas on the market, you might think Squirt is made with grapefruit to set it apart from its competitors, but that isn't the case. Although 7Up is older -- it was released in 1929 -- Squirt's history dates back to 1936, and Sprite didn't come about until 1956. Sierra Mist, Starry's predecessor, was released several years later in 1999. When Squirt came out, the market wasn't saturated with so many lemon-lime sodas that Squirt had to change it up by using grapefruit.
The real reason Squirt was made with grapefruit was to save the grapefruit industry in Arizona. The beverage was created during the Great Depression, and during this time, citrus groves had more grapefruit than owners knew what to do with. Struggling to find a solution, Ed Mehren, Squirt co-founder and the son of a citrus grove owner, came up with the idea to transform the overabundant fruit into a unique beverage people would want to drink. The grapefruit scraps leftover from the soda-making process were then turned into livestock feed for further profit.
Squirt Used To Go By A Different Name
Squirt has always been a grapefruit-flavored soda, but before 1938, most people knew it as Citrus Club. It got its name when Ed Mehren teamed up with Herb Bishop, who had been experimenting with Mehren's drink to create one of his own. The name the two business partners came up with was inspired by the squirting that happens when you eat fresh grapefruit. In 1941, Squirt also introduced its mascot known as "Lil' Squirt" to help sell the product, cementing its new name.
Rather than a standalone drink, Squirt was initially sold as a cocktail mixer. Advertisements from Squirt's early days specify that it's "for grownup tastes" and refer to it as a "quality mixer that sparkles your drinks," not a soda.
One of its original selling points was that you could use it in a Lime Rickey, a citrusy cocktail that typically uses club soda, but ads from 1962 encourage customers to also try it with whiskey (Squiskey), gin (Squigin), vodka (Squad'kah), and rum (Squirtrum). It seems the grapefruit flavor proved to be tasty enough for people to enjoy Squirt all by itself.
Read the original article on Daily Meal.