April 15, 2009

The History of Soda Pop

by Vickie McDonough

Okay, I’ll admit right off the bat that I’m a pop junkie. My dad bought pop for us all the time as kids. We even have a refrigerator in our garage reserved just for pop—and to have a place to thaw the Thanksgiving turkey.

As a kid, I watched all the cowboy shows and westerns of the sixties and early seventies. It always intrigued me when a cowboy would order a sarsaparilla. What a fancy name! I thought it might be fun to research soda pop and to find out how long it has actually been around.

1798—the term “soda water” was first used

1810—first U.S. patent for the manufacture of mineral waters was issued

1819—the first soda fountain was patented

1835—first bottled soda water was available in the U.S.

Note: The drinking of mineral water was considered a healthy practice. American pharmacists, who were selling most of the mineral waters, started to add medicinal and other flavorful herbs to the unflavored beverage, such as birch bark, dandelion, sarsaparilla and fruit extracts.

1851—ginger ale was created in Ireland

1861—the term “pop” was first used

Just imagine, all of that happened before the Civil War had ended. It makes me thirsty just thinking about it.

1876—mass production of Root Beer began. It started out as an herbal tea that Charles Hires, a Philadelphia pharmacist, created on his honeymoon.

1881—the first cola beverage was introduced

1885—Dr. Pepper was invented, also by a pharmacist

1886—Coca Cola was invented by Doctor John Pemberton—you guessed it—a pharmacist from Atlanta, Georgia. Pemberton concocted the Coca Cola formula in a three legged brass kettle in his backyard. Until 1905, the soft drink, marketed as a tonic, contained extracts of cocaine as well as the caffeine-rich kola nut.

1892—William Painter invented the crown bottle cap

1898 "Pepsi-Cola" is invented by Caleb Bradham. His most popular beverage was something he called "Brad's drink" made of carbonated water, sugar, vanilla, rare oils, pepsin and cola nuts. "Brad's drink" was later renamed "Pepsi-Cola" after the pepsin and cola nuts used in the recipe.

1899—The first patent is issued for a glass blowing machine to produce glass bottles

Did you know that soda pop has been around for so long? There are plenty more events in the soda pop timeline, but I’ll stop here. Next time you’re reading a historical set in the late 1800s and your hero refreshes himself with a soft drink, just remember it could have really happened. And, next time you indulge in a cold, refreshing soft drink, be sure to thank all those early pharmacists for their creative genius.



Abi said...

Interesting. Thanks for sharing. Love my pop.

ABreading4fun [at] gmail [dot] com

Ashley Ludwig said...

Vickie, that's so fun! I used to traipse around the desert as an archaeologist - and discovering historical bottles was always a treat. From medicine, to heinz ketchup, to early soda bottles... LOVE the reference! Great collection!


Vickie McDonough said...

Abi, I love my pop too.

Ashley, that sounds like fun--finding old things that have been discarded. I love seeing old building.

brendalottakamaggiebrendan said...

Vickie, love the post about sodas. Last week I wrote about sodas in my wip and I had to look all this up. Wish you had done this research for me last week. :) The Coke museum here in Atlanta is so much fun! You get to taste all kinds of soda water and flavors of Cokes!


Intresting post - I especially love ginger ale.

B.K. Jackson said...

Ah 1885 was a good year. Love my Dr Pepper (and Barq's!).

But nothing drives me battier then to go to a restaurant and ask if they have Dr Pepper, then the wait-person perkily smiles and say "No but we have Mr Pibb!" (as if that's a decent substitute. NOT!) 8-)

Tina Dee Books said...

I so agree B.K.!!! Thanks for the great post Vickie!

Tina Dee

Allison said...

I love the glass bottles you pulled out of the machine with the door, and then having to pop the cap off to drink!!! Love soda pop!! Thanks for all the interesting tidbits!