Friday, June 18, 2010

Soda - "Pop"

An American Icon

Pop, soda, soda-pop, fizzy drink, soft drink; all names of a product that Americans consume an average of 1.6 cans per day. This equals to an average of 584 cans of pop (1.6 cans x 365 days) per American each year. Wow, even bigger if you take the estimated American population which is roughly 309 million Americans, as of June 2010. We consume an average of 181 billion canes of soda!!!! The following number is probably a reason why American icons such as; Coca Cola and PepsiCo are included in the Forbes Fortune 100 list (#52 & #73 as of 2009). The term “soft”, in soft drink, is given because it is the opposite of “hard”; and alcoholic drinks were hard drinks because of their high alcoholic content. But where did we get this burping machine of a money maker in the United States?

We can trace the history back to the mineral waters found in natural springs; which was considered extremely healthy and people often bathed in it for its healthy properties. These waters were said to cure ailments and soon scientists discovered that carbon dioxide was behind the bubble formations in natural mineral water. Thank you scientists for your exploration of Carbon Dioxide bubbles, but how did you make them taste good you ask. In 1810 the first US patent was issued to mass produce “imitation” mineral water; to Simons and Rundell of Charleston, SC. Twenty-two years later in 1832 John Mathews, of New York City, invented an apparatus for making mass produced carbonated water; the mass produced modern soda fountain was then created.

At this point soda pop was available at your local pharmacy (drugstore) or ice cream parlors; pharmacists would concoct mixtures of roots, fruit extracts, flowers, bark, leaves, and elixirs such as pepsin. We will get back to pepsin because I am sure by now you are all ready putting two and two together. By now we started to mass produce soft drinks in bottles for sale to home. These first soda pops were capped with corks, caps or lids; but the carbon dioxide would escape because of the immense pressure. Some of the first bottle soda makers were pharmacists; in 1885 in Waco, TX a young pharmacist named Charles Alderton named a soda after his friend Dr. Charles Pepper. A year later in 1886 a doctor named John Stith Pemberton of Atlanta, GA created a soft drink called Coca-Cola. In 1893 a drink first known as “Brad’s Drink” was created by pharmacist Caleb Bradham in New Bern, NC. Another notable is from a guy who was a salesman and marketer named Charles Leiper Grigg; whom created a drink called “Bib-Label Lithiated Lemon-Lime Sodas” it was later shortened to 7 Up. Soon after the loss of carbon dioxide in bottled sodas; a Baltimore machine operator was granted a patent in 1892. The machine operator was William Painter and he created the first very successful method of keeping the bubbles in the bottle; the “Crown Cork Bottle Seal” or the simply the bottle cap.
So for most of us we know the history of Coca Cola; but if you do not it is very hush for the most part. The name Coca-Cola was suggested to Pemberton by his bookkeeper Frank Robinson; who also penned/scripted the famous logo of today. Nine servings of the soft drink were sold each day in Jacob’s Pharmacy in Atlanta. The first year sales of Coca Cola totaled an amount of $50; which was a loss for Pemberton whose expenses totaled $70 for the year. I do not think he complained for too long since Coca-Cola products are consumed at a rate of more than one billion drinks per day.

Brad’s Drink created in 1893 was made with carbonated water, sugar, vanilla, rare oils, cola nuts and pepsin. In 1898 Caleb wisely bought the trade name Pep Cola for $100 from a competitor in New Jersey. In 1903 Bradham’s neighbor designed the first logo for this new company known as Pepsi Cola. Believe it or not Pepsi went bankrupt in 1923 during the Great Depression. In 1931 Pepsi Cola was bought by Loft Candy Company and their CEO struggled to make the company a success; he even tried to sell the iconic company to the Coca-Cola Company who refused the offer.

Throughout the years cans were introduced in 1957 and plastic bottles in 1970. The tastes have changed and more competition has been introduced around the world. Even the icons of Coke (Coca-Cola) and Pepsi were forced to change their original brews. However, after 120 plus years of yummy goodness; we continue to consume the syrupy liquid commemorating belchers across this incredible country of the United States of America.


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