Chow Town

Old-fashioned, delicious sodas can be found at Polly’s Pop on the Independence Square

Polly’s Pop offers many flavors and is bottled in Independence.
Polly’s Pop offers many flavors and is bottled in Independence.

Black cherry, grape, orange, strawberry, pineapple, root beer and cream flavored soda pop anyone?

Well, my friends, it’s ice cold, available now and produced locally by Polly’s Pop, now owned by Ken and Cindy McClain, who own many of the businesses on the Independence Square.

The once-famous soft drink was produced from 1923 to 1967 by the old Independence Bottling Co. Back in 1923, L.L. “Polly” and Dorothea Compton started the Independence Bottling Co. and Polly’s Soda Pop after purchasing the Independence Bottling Works.

The plant sat on a landmark site of a spring that was known to never go dry. The building was razed a while back and is now the site of Polly’s Pop Park.

Today, Polly’s sits near the intersection of Truman Road and River Boulevard, just two blocks away from Harry S. Truman’s home. The soda pop was sweetened with cane sugar and sold in 12 ounce bottles.

It is still produced that way today on the bottling line with three separate stations in which one machine dispenses the flavor in the bottle, the next adds carbonated water and the last one puts the cap on. Talk about old-fashioned!

I recently was lucky enough to take a private tour of Polly’s Pop and was overwhelmed with the old-fashioned bottling machine and really simple process.

I later sat down and had a tasting of all the flavors with my wife, Lisa, and nephew Jasper. I popped open the first bottle and nearly everyone commented on the smell.

My nephew commented that none of the flavors tasted artificial. He was so correct. We all agreed that real cane sugar does make a difference, and my wife noted that the orange tasted just like a soda pop she used to enjoy as a child. As for myself, the grape soda was just perfect, not too sweet and just the right amount of carbonation. Mmmmm … So good!

Actually, the soda flavors were all delicious, especially the black cherry and the pineapple. I was seriously considering grabbing some tequila and mixing it with the pineapple, but I wanted to just enjoy the old-time flavors and nostalgia of drinking out of an ice cold bottle.

You can visit the Polly’s Pop bottling company, just a block off Independence Square, and watch the process at 306 W. Maple St. in Independence.

While you’re in the area, stop at the old Clinton Soda Fountain and enjoy the ice cold pop along with some original memorabilia and bottles from the old Polly’s now on display in the store.

The McClains have the formula down, and I can only imagine what’s on the horizon. A diet root beer was just released, and I’m thinking a good ginger-ale cane sugar cola and a sarsaparilla would taste great. Hint hint!!

For more information about Polly’s Pop, check out the website at and like them on Facebook. Believe me, you’ll be doing yourself a favor!

Do you have a favorite old time place or know of a historical place that involves food? Send me an email at

Chef Jasper J. Mirabile Jr. of Jasper’s runs his family’s 62-year-old restaurant with his brother. Mirabile is a culinary instructor, founding member of Slow Food Kansas City and a national board member of the American Institute of Wine and Food. He is host to many famous chefs on his weekly radio show “Live! From Jasper’s Kitchen” on KCMO 710 AM and 103.7 FM. He also sells dressings and sauces.