Growing up as a girl in the ’80s and ’90s, there are a few common experiences that seem to be fairly pervasive. Love them or hate them, there was no way to hide from cultural phenomena such as Full House, Spice Girls, The Babysitter’s Club, boy bands…and, of course, Diet Coke.

I don’t know if it’s because our moms were all on weird diets, or the simple fact that it was new and exciting, but for some reason Diet Coke seemed to flow freely in the olden days (approx.1989 to 1999). As a kid I would sneak sips from my mom’s drink and savour the fizzy goodness. I was more of a grape and orange soda gal (they paired better with cheese puffs and pizza), but there was something about Diet Coke that just seemed so cool. As I got older and learned that it may not be a good idea to consume multiple litres of sugary beverages at a time, diet ones seemed like lifesavers: no calories, plus plenty of flavour and carbonation.

As I’ve turned into more and more of a hippie, however, the idea of knocking back bottles full of artificial sweeteners and colourings has become a lot less appealing. But sometimes a lady (or fellow) just needs a beverage, and let’s face it, green tea or unsweetened cranberry juice just won’t cut it. You want a fizzy drink to pair with your yam fries—I understand. I understand all too well.

Enter Zevia.

Zevia is a calorie-free, natural pop that is sweetened with Stevia. Stevia is one of the latest wunderkinds in the healthy natural foods community; all natural and derived from an extremely sweet leaf, stevia is something like five billion times sweeter than sugar*, and doesn’t have any calories. My mom turned me on to the stuff when I was visiting her in California a few years ago, and now I use it in my coffee all the time. It’s got none of the empty calories of sugar and none of the artificial chemicals of sweeteners, and you can get it as either a powder or a liquid.

So when I encountered a more natural version of diet soda, I got a bit giddy. In addition to classic Cola and Ginger flavours, Zevia also has Orange, Grape, and Cream Soda! They definitely taste a little different than traditional sodas, and although it’s called a “natural health product” it’s not quite the same as throwing back a shot of kale juice or anything. But if you have an addiction to diet soda the way I do, these little cans of joy can be quite heroic.

Obsession is not an overstatement, either. When my best friend found an amazing sale on them this summer, she bought like, 200 cans of the stuff**. And let’s just say, between the two of us, her haul did not last long. The Cream Soda and Grape flavours are my top picks; the “Mountain Zevia” flavour, as my sister put it, “tastes a bit like sticks.” You can drink it alone, or use it as a mixer.

It’s also popping up all over the place—not only at health food stores, but a lot of grocery stores are carrying it now, too (thank you, Loblaws). There are a few other companies coming out with stevia-sweetened beverages that I’m eager to try, but so far Zevia has won my heart. It fills a void that was created in my childhood in a much healthier way. And isn’t that kind of what growing up is all about? Nurturing our inner children while attempting to live like somewhat functioning, mature adults? Although I don’t know if adults are supposed to be shotgunning cans of naturally sweetened Cream Soda while binging on season three of Dawson’s Creek… Ah well, one step at a time.

*Not accurate. Slightly hyperbolic.
**Completely accurate. If anything, an understatement.