Boost! - Gastro Obscura



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.

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