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?
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.
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.
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.