It’s been said that people are a bit different along the Wasatch Front. If no one has actually said that let’s just settle on the fact that I’ve said it here and now. The Wasatch Front is Mormon country where the Latter-Day Saints settled in the mid 1800’s. The years preceding their ultimate settlement were not kind to the Saints, but I believe that the rampant persecution unified the believers in both their beliefs and culture. Having obtained a degree of independence (and isolation) their culture grew at its own pace and in its own direction. This created many things unique to Utah (and other Mormon settlements) including, but not limited to fry sauce, weird baby names, and IronPort soda.
IronPort was very popular during the soda fountain days of the early 1900’s but largely disappeared over the subsequent decades. However, possibly due to the resilience of soda fountains in Utah and Idaho, IronPort never completely disappeared from the Wasatch Front. Here’s a great list of places you can still find it on tap. Bandit Beverages recently took it a step further and bottled IronPort, making it accessible to people outside of this cultural bubble.
There’s very little information online regarding the specific ingredients of IronPort, and there’s a significant amount of disagreement regarding what the flavor actually is. I’m conflicted myself. Some say spiced bubblegum. Some say a cross between root beer and cream soda. I feel that it’s a variant of a cola with a strong influence of a vanilla heavy root beer. There were spices. Maybe cloves, maybe cinnamon, maybe allspice. I don’t know. There was vanilla, and it was mostly smooth. It tasted fruity in the same way that Dr. Pepper tastes fruity. Meaning, not really all that fruity. If it reminded me of something it’s probably OK Soda (may it rest in peace). However, it’s been about 20 years since I had an OK Soda so that’s probably not an accurate memory. I can’t tell you how many times I dialed 1-800-IFEELOK just to listen to recordings of bird calls. (Important Edit: That phone number no longer connects to a humorous promotional recording for OK Soda. It’s not some pervy pay-per-minute chat line. Be warned)
Anyway, I liked the soda. I felt that the corn syrup sweetener made the texture a bit sticky and the flavor a bit fleeting, but overall it was unique and refreshing. If you like spiced drinks like root beer and cola then you’ll probably enjoy it. This is a 7.5 out of 10 on my rating scale and I’d definitely drink it again. Bandit Beverages makes other sodas (including a Cherry IronPort) which I will try to locate and review. Click here to find those reviews once I write them. Bandit has limited distribution at the moment but we’ll see where they end up as they grow.
Sampled on July 30, 2017. Received as a gift from a reader.
I worked at Stan’s Drive In in Provo, UT during college (I waited tables there from 2004 thru 2005), and we had Iron Port. I describe the soda as carbonated maple syrup. It tastes like straight sugar, and I can say I an NOT a fan. But people loved the stuff and drove for literal hours to get to us sometimes. Iron Port and fry sauce. People have strange taste in food in that area.