It's a tough battle that the Soda Factory (formerly Real Soda) fights day after day. It's a struggle against three corporate conglomerates, an attempt to bring the fizzy drinks of the world some integrity. It's a battle for sugar. For real sugar.

Because what the local pop-sters over at the Soda Factory peddle are those exact products that their ex-moniker used to indicate: real soda. Most of their sodas are made with real sugar, not the high-fructose corn syrup that makes popular sodas so unhealthy.

"There's some money behind high-fructose corn syrup. It's a highly processed product that doesn't occur in nature," Stan Ashby of the Soda Factory says. "The change has happened gradually, with sodas going from using sugar to syrup. The taste isn't that different, until you go back and try the original product."

The Soda Factory prides itself on carrying locally produced sodas, but it's particularly proud of its latest drink, the Zenmaster. (It's bottled in Seattle, but was created as a team effort of the Spokane-based firm Zenmaster and the Soda Factory.)

The lemon-lime soda sticks out from the other sodas that Ashby and co-soda guru Roberta Reisdorf have stocked at their East Sprague location. The labels for the other sodas look like they were torn from the pages of a Stan Lee comic -- bustling with bubbly letters, jostling with colors and bright metal caps. The green glass bottles of Zenmaster soda sit on a low shelf, their brown and white labels previewing the soda's calm taste -- and effect.

Zenmaster soda tastes like a very crisp, refreshing lemon-lime soda, but what you don't taste is the L-Theanine that you're also drinking. (Don't worry, it's good for you.) L-Theanine is the same ingredient that you find can find in green tea and is known for its calming effects on the brain. In fact, the substance cultivates alpha brain waves -- the very same relaxing waves your brain rides on during meditation and yoga. After a bottle of Zenmaster, you may find yourself feeling more relaxed, calm and your stress levels significantly reduced.

"It just makes you feel relaxed. It's the equivalent of drinking a large amount of green tea without any caffeine," Ashby says. "I know when we have a real stressful situation, I'll drink a couple of bottles."

The newest soda is one of a handful of local beverages that Ashby and Reisdorf carry, including the top-selling Huckleberry Creme and XTZ sodas -- also created with the help of the Soda Factory guys. You can also go to there to pick up your fix of Tazo Teas, energy drinks and other hard-to-find greats like BibiCaffe and Dad's Root Beer. They have recently started carrying other specialty goods, from locally made preserves and snacks to Athena Water -- bottled water that donates all proceeds to breast cancer research.

Soda Factory drinks can be found all over town at Rosauers, Huckleberry's and Tidymans, and around town at little joints like the Spike Coffeehouse.

The Soda Factory is located at 715 E. Sprague Ave. behind the yellow door. Hours: Monday-Saturday from 10 am-6 pm. Call 755-7632.

Like In 'n' Out Burger? -- The similarities are uncanny. The menu choices that you can count on two hands. The '50s theme. The fantastic milkshakes. Every time I drive through and order a cheeseburger, fries and a shake at D. Lish's, feel the warm sun on my face -- I swear I'm at a California In 'n' Out.

And then I remember that the bright light is just the gleam from the snow.

But at least we've still got the burgers. D. Lish's has been flipping great burgers and fries to customers for years now, and they've finally expanded southward. The popular joint just opened a new satellite location in River Park Square's third-level food court.

And it looks glorious.

The sign is gleaming. The burgers are frying. And from the smell, I can tell they're still serving up those same D. Lish's d. lights.

TV Dinner -- Ever wonder what culinary delight gets Randy Shaw out of bed in the morning? What tasty treat is irresistible to Charles Rowe? What dish forces Tom Sherry to scarf down seconds? The answers are in.

The local stars of KREM-2 celebrated the station's 50th anniversary this past October, and guess how they celebrated it. Nope, not by coming out with a book highlighting the big stories of the past 50 years. Instead, they went with the obvious choice to commemorate a half-century of news coverage: a cookbook. That's right, for $20, you too can eat like a local TV star. But it's all for a good cause; KREM is donating the proceeds to the local United Way. Now if only you could get your hands on the secrets behind Nadine Woodward's oh-so-television-anchor coiffure.

Pick up your copy at Auntie's, Hastings, Borders and Huckleberry's.

Publication date: 1/13/04

Hillyard Farmers Market @ Hillyard

Mondays, 3-7 p.m. Continues through Oct. 3
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About The Author

Leah Sottile

Leah Sottile is a Spokane-based freelance writer who formerly served as music editor, culture editor and a staff writer at the Inlander. She has written about everything from nuns and Elvis impersonators, to jailhouse murders and mental health...