Baruch Hashem, we live in a time that wherever we travel in the United States, from
Bangor to Burbank, we have plenty of food choices that are reliably certified as kosher,
bearing the symbol of a hashgachah that we've learnt to trust. In this context, soda - or
pop, as they call it here in the Midwest - is an interesting phenomenon, in that it is often
accepted as kosher in the U.S.A. even without a kosher symbol. This is because the most
kashrus sensitive portion of a carbonated beverage is the flavored syrup, and almost
every flavor produced by the three major soda companies in the USA are certified as
kosher (Coca Cola by the OU, Pepsi Cola by Rabbi Charlop and Dr. Pepper/7UP by the
cRc). [A complete list of all flavors that are kosher can be found on our website
(www.crcweb.org) or can be faxed to you by calling our office at 773- 465-3900].
Although the flavored syrup is only one of several ingredients in soda, in truth, the other
ingredients are relatively innocuous and there are no concerns of kailim since carbonated
beverages are bottled without any heat (as opposed to non-carbonated "sports" drinks,
juices and similar items).
Until recently, it was easy to apply the same logic to fountain soda - if the syrup was
known to be kosher then there was no reason not to buy a drink from the fountain
dispenser. However, over the past few months, 7-Eleven has introduced a new fountain
soda machine into their stores which has raised doubts about these assumptions.
In a traditional fountain soda machine, each flavor of soda comes out of its own spout.
This helps the store make sure that your Coke doesn't have any Sprite mixed into it, and
as a result also assures the kosher consumer that there isn't any trace of non-kosher
beverages in their kosher soda. However, the new machine has just one spout for four
soda flavors (and three concentrated flavor shots if you would like to enjoy some lemon,
cherry or vanilla in your soda of choice[all of these flaor shots are dairy-Cholov Stam] which has led consumers to question whether
some leftover non-kosher beverage from a previous customer might not end up in their
kosher soda. This concern is compounded by the fact that a) one of the current choices of
fountain drink is Gatorade that is not certified as kosher b) although the three flavors
checked out as kosher [dairy-Cholov Stam] during our most recent research - they are not guaranteed to
In the end, our research confirmed that the people who designed the new fountain soda
machine are as concerned about the mixing of different flavors as we are. With help from
the technical people at 7-Eleven, plus many trips to our local store (and loads of paper
towels to clean up the absolute mess we made there) our sticky effort showed the
Behind the bright, lit-up cover of the new fountain machine is a maze of pipes connecting
the different flavored syrup pouches (kept in the back of the store) to the dispensing
nozzle. At first glance, things didn't look good from a kashrus perspective as the pipes all
seem to go into just one internal nozzle which in turn go through yet another shared
After further analysis we realized that the shared external nozzle doesn't pose a concern,
because the carbonated water portion of every beverage leaves the inner nozzle from a
different hole than the syrup does, and it is designed in such a way that even after all of
the syrup comes out, the water continues to flow for a short time. Thus, there is basically
a water flush of the inside of the external nozzle between every drink served.
Still left to figure out was the internal nozzle, which had us pretty frustrated as every
indication was that the different flavors passed through an inch or so of shared space,
which meant that there could potentially be cross-over of the various flavors as they made
their final journey into your ice-filled cup. However, after speaking it over with the 7-
Eleven technical department we were shown confidential detailed diagrams of exactly
how the internal nozzle works and - although we can't share these proprietary details -
we were 100% convinced that there is absolutely no possibility that different flavors can
mix with one another.
So, the good news is that once you determine the syrup used in the carbonated soda is
kosher, you may purchase it without a symbol on the bottle, and even in the new 7-
Eleven fountain machine.
Rabbi Dovid Cohen is the Administrative Rabbinical Coordinator of the cRc.