BASSETERRE, St. Kitts - The generation to come may never know what a ‘Bryson’ drink was. But those of us who knew it will remember it fondly.
The present generation will know immediately what a “sucker” is – a sweet drink frozen in a plastic bag from which you suck out the contents.
This generation may have never heard of “swank” – a drink made from just brown sugar and water that quenched many a thirst in bygone days and may have been all that some hungry bellies got to satisfy them before going to school.
‘Red Bull’ was quite unknown to me until about 2 years ago and only yesterday I learnt of a popular fruity drink in a tin called ‘Arizona’. How times change!
But let’s get back to the Bryson. A Kittitian anywhere in the world would know you were from St. Kitts if you called a soda a Bryson. How did this come about? Why may the next generation never know about it and why do we remember it fondly?
The St. Kitts Bottling Company has ceased using those long glass bottles to package their drinks. It is all plastic bottles now; hence memories of the Bryson in a tall glass bottle will fade as a result.
In the fifties, sodas, along with Coca Cola were imported from Bryson’s Bottling Company of Antigua. The sodas and especially the red one came to be known as ‘Bryson’ drinks.
The drinks were imported by Astaphan’s Bottling Company at the bottom of Church Street but when the Company was bought over by what is now known as the St. Kitts Bottling Company, they continued to order the ‘Brysons’ from Antigua.
Even when the St. Kitts Bottling Company began to produce its own sodas under the brand name of SPARKLE, the sodas were still called Brysons especially the red soda and that name stuck.
It just does not feel right to call a soda in a plastic bottle a Bryson anymore, for that does not hold memories of its origin. However, we look back with nostalgia and fondness at the departing ‘Bryson”.
While some will understand the nostalgia, others are bound to query the ‘fondness’. The fondness is well articulated by one writer to an on-line forum that was discussing favourite drinks of St. Kitts. This is what s/he had to say:
“My favourite drinks in St. Kitts are the bottled soft drinks. Coca Cola tastes better in St. Kitts than anywhere else on earth. And the "red drink"/bryson/slater is just the best. The Bottling Co. soft drinks are the perfect drinks to wash down the macaroni pie and stewed saltfish from the Snackette at lunch.”
If you are wondering why that person called the drink a bryson/slater, let me tell you…
A certain prominent Kittitian gentleman of humble beginnings once had to take a plane journey to a distant country. On being told that the journey would take many hours, the gentleman decided to stock up on some food to refresh him on his trip. It was reported far and wide that the food the son of the soil took was a big Bryson and some butter bread. This so amused the community that they began to call the Bryson – a slader – after the name of this goodly gentlemen.
With what must we replace our unique ‘Bryson” drink? For me, there is nothing better than a good local ginger beer, lemonade or passion fruit drink! Do we really need to import all of these other drinks? You be the judge.