Boost! - Gastro Obscura
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South Jersey's signature syrup has been flavoring sodas and shakes for more than a century.

In the early 1900s, Benjamin Faunce opened a pharmacy in Riverside, New Jersey. Among his wares were cough syrup, medicated lotion, and a syrup he called Tak-Aboost. At the pharmacy’s soda fountain, servers mixed the syrup with the likes of water, seltzer, milk, and milkshakes. With a sweet cola flavor that many describe as reminiscent of “flat Coke,” Tak-Aboost found loyal fans and spread to neighboring South Jersey towns. By the 1950s, local kids had found a new sweet-and-salty pairing: an ice-cold glass of Tak-Aboost and water with a pretzel dangling from its straw.

Initially, the company held firm to the drink’s pharmaceutical roots. Advertisements proclaimed that it made milk “more digestible” for children, that it gave athletes “last-minute strength,” and that it was “used in hospitals after operations to overcome sickness from the anesthetic.” While it’s lost some of its cure-all cachet in recent years, some Jersey residents still swear by a syrup-based concoction for soothing stomachaches. 

Although it has yet to find a fanbase beyond its native home, the syrup—rebranded as Boost! in 1997—remains a beloved South Jersey specialty. Fans enjoy it at delis and ice cream parlors as a cool summer drink, a sundae topping, or a slushie. For those who prefer to mix their own Boost!-flavored beverages, the company sells it in half-gallon containers of concentrate, which produce 40 eight-ounce drinks. For Jersey natives who find themselves around the world, these large jugs provide a taste of home. According to the company website, they often ship Boost! to soldiers stationed abroad.

Need to Know

You can view locations to buy Boost! or order directly from the company's website. In addition to its original flavor, the company has added fruit flavors, a decaf version, and sugar-free versions.

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