Call it pop culture or perhaps pop cuisine, but cooking with soft drinks is a time-honored tradition of home cooks. The beverages substitute for sweet syrups in sauces, cakes and more. All colas can be used in these recipes. I especially like the flavor root beer adds to baked beans and barbecue glazes.

Cola Short Ribs

Makes 8 to 10 servings

Vegetable oil spray

4 to 5 pounds beef short ribs

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Garlic powder to taste

1 1/2 cups cola drink

1 1/2 cups bottled chili sauce

Worcestershire sauce

2 tablespoons hot red pepper sauce, or to taste

1 to 2 tablespoons instant-dissolving flour (optional)

1. Heat oven to 325 F.

2. Spray a roasting pan or Dutch oven with oil. Brown short ribs on all sides over medium-high heat. Drain any excess oil that accumulates in pan. Combine salt, pepper and garlic powder; sprinkle evenly over ribs on all sides. Mix cola, chili sauce, Worcestershire sauce and red pepper sauce. Pour over ribs.

3. Cover pan with tight-fitting lid and bake for 1 1/2 to 2 hours or until tender.

4. Remove ribs from roasting pan and keep warm. Skim excess fat from sauce in pan. If desired, thicken gravy by dissolving equal amounts of flour in water; stir into sauce. Gently heat on top of stove until sauce bubbles and thickens. Adjust seasoning to taste.

Recipe note: From “Potato Chip Cookies and Tomato Soup Cake: Recipes of Americana” (Eberly Press, 1992)

Cola Baked Beans

Makes 4 to 6 servings

2 (15-ounce) cans pork and beans