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A History Of Soft Drinks

Updated on September 28, 2009
The History Of Soft Drinks
The History Of Soft Drinks

Enjoy A Coke And A Smile

On a hot summer day, nothing can be more refreshing than an ice cold soft drink.  From Pepsi to Coca-Cola, from Orange to Root Beer, sparkling water to seltzer, there are numerous soft drinks to choose from.  Soft drinks are sold in every gas station, every restaurant and just about every place you go today.  But where did this carbonated delight come from?  How was it invented? 

Mineral Water Found In Natural Springs Wre Considered Healthy For The Body
Mineral Water Found In Natural Springs Wre Considered Healthy For The Body
Dandelion & Burdock: The First Soft Drink In The West
Dandelion & Burdock: The First Soft Drink In The West

The Historical Origins Of Soft Drinks.

Technically, a soft drink is defined as any drink other than plain water that does not contain alcohol.  The first “soft drinks” were not made in factories but came naturally as they were mineral waters found in natural springs and geysers.  Early societies would bathe in these natural springs believing that they contained health improving minerals.  This theme of the health benefits of soft drinks follows its development throughout the ages. 

Later Arabic chemists developed sherbets. These Sherbets were the first juice and carbonation drink and were made from crushed fruit, berries, herbs or flowers.  Muslim shopkeepers sold what they called a Sharob to the European traders coming through the Middle East.  Out of the Muslim Sharob, came the French Sorbet.  Around 1265, the Sherbet Dandelion & Burdock was introduced in England and was instantly very popular.  This led to the development of other carbonated drinks in the Western World.

Joseph Priestly Developed This Machine To Make Carbonated Water
Joseph Priestly Developed This Machine To Make Carbonated Water

Soft Drinks in the West

The first soft drinks to be marketed in the West were made from water and lemon juice and sweetened with honey and was called lemonade.   A Paris Company was granted a monopoly on the sale of the lemonade soft drink and its employees would walk around Paris with tanks of the drink on their back and sell the drink by the cup.

Not much later in England an important discovery was made that would revolutionize soft drinks.  In 1767, Joseph Priestly discovered a method of infusing water with carbon dioxide.  The invention is known as carbonated water.  Another Englishman named John Nooth improved the carbonated water designed and began selling his product to pharmacies throughout England.  Like the ancient societies, the carbonated soft drink was believed to aid in good health.

Later two Swedish Chemists improved on the work done by the English.  Torbern Bergman invented a process that produced carbonated water from chalk by using sulfuric acid.  This allowed carbonated water to be produced in large amounts.  Later John Jacob Berzelius began to add flavors to the carbonated water. 

Coca Cola Was First Introduced As A Medicine But Now It One Of the Biggest Soft Drink Producers In The World
Coca Cola Was First Introduced As A Medicine But Now It One Of the Biggest Soft Drink Producers In The World
Pepsi Was Also First Sold As Medicine But Is Now One Of the Biggest Soft Drink Producers In The World
Pepsi Was Also First Sold As Medicine But Is Now One Of the Biggest Soft Drink Producers In The World

Soft Drinks As We Know Them Today

Today Soft Drinks are mostly known by its most popular form: the soda pop. However, even soda pop is nothing more than carbonated water with flavor added. The important step came in 1784 when citric acid was developed from lemon juice. Since then, soda became the inevitable result. In 1871 the first soda was given a trademark. This soda was ginger ale.

Four years later, Charles Hires introduced his Hires Root Beer Extract and in 1876 it was offered at the Philadelphia Fair. Root Beer was made from a herb tea made from Roots that added carbonated water and citric acid. Hires Root Beer became very popular on the East Coast.

Then came Coca-Cola, Dr. Pepper and Moxie which were introduced in 1886. At first, Coca-Cola was sold as a remedy for headaches. But Dr. Pepper, introduced in a corner drug store in Waco, Texas, was sold as a beverage. Then in 1903, Pepsi-Cola was formed and its product was sold as a cure for dyspepsia. Later sugar was added and these once medicines became the tasty beverages we known today.

Soft Drinks today are a big business. Coca-Cola and Pepsi still compete to be crowned as the world’s best soft drink. But the soft drink was developed as a heath supplement and until only 100 years ago was marketed as such. Today, it is a tasty beverage.

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    • bgpappa profile imageAUTHOR

      bgpappa 

      6 years ago from Sacramento, California

      Glad I could help

    • profile image

      Hannah 

      6 years ago

      thank you so much this helped with my science research report and science fair project!!!!

    • bgpappa profile imageAUTHOR

      bgpappa 

      7 years ago from Sacramento, California

      No problem, best of luck. Thanks for reading

    • profile image

      cutie girl 

      7 years ago

      what a big help in my assignments !!! thanks...

    • bgpappa profile imageAUTHOR

      bgpappa 

      8 years ago from Sacramento, California

      thanks for reading

    • profile image

      jose 

      8 years ago

      haa! whtever:D

    • bgpappa profile imageAUTHOR

      bgpappa 

      8 years ago from Sacramento, California

      Been called worse by better

      Thanks for reading

    • profile image

      me 

      8 years ago

      you are gay

    • bgpappa profile imageAUTHOR

      bgpappa 

      9 years ago from Sacramento, California

      Doesn't go with the history but thanks for the comment.

    • Tucci78 profile image

      Tucci78 

      9 years ago from New Jersey

      bgpappa, might you extend this hub to discuss the current noise about the health Nazi campaign against carbonated soft drinks, and the politicians' efforts to levy "sin tax" exactions upon traffic in these fizzy high-fructose beverages?

    • wordsword profile image

      wordsword 

      9 years ago

      Nice hub and good research about soft drinks but quite surprised that it had its roots from middle east.

    • bgpappa profile imageAUTHOR

      bgpappa 

      9 years ago from Sacramento, California

      I know the back story of which you speak and will be writing more.

      Thanks for reading

    • Jerilee Wei profile image

      Jerilee Wei 

      9 years ago from United States

      For most of my life I was completely addicted to soft drinks, then I had a heart attack in my early 50s and gave up anything that contains caffeine. Best thing I ever did. There is a bigger backstory to soft drinks, (actually a few) that are well documented. You did such a good job with this, hoping to see that you'll take it a little further :)

    • bgpappa profile imageAUTHOR

      bgpappa 

      9 years ago from Sacramento, California

      THanks, I am a big fan of Pepsi too.

      Thanks for the comment.

    • dohn121 profile image

      dohn121 

      9 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York

      I am a big fan of Pepsi and have been pretty good cutting down on it as of late. I only drink about 5 cans a week now. I enjoyed this hub too, bgpappa. I've always wanted to look into the invention of soft drinks myself but now, thanks to you, I don't have to! Thanks!

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