In the grand tapestry of human history, few tales are as effervescent and delightfully fizzy as that of the noble soda pop, a beverage that has captured hearts and quenched thirsts for centuries.

Join me, dear reader, as we embark on a journey through time, tracing the humble beginnings of this carbonated concoction to its present-day ubiquity, with all the twists, turns, and bubbles in between.


bottle of Schweppes
© History Oasis

In the year of 1767, a most curious and ingenious invention was set into motion. The wily Joseph Priestley, an Englishman of considerable scientific renown, discovered a method of infusing water with carbon dioxide, thereby producing the first known glass of carbonated water.

This effervescent creation was the very spark that would set the world of beverages ablaze.


A scant few years later, Johann Jacob Schweppe, a Swiss gentleman, took it upon himself to improve upon Priestley's concoction.

Employing the secrets of science and the marvels of engineering, he developed a machine to mass-produce carbonated water.

This enterprise, dubbed the "Schweppes Company," would become a household name, and the first significant purveyor of soda water.

As the years marched on, the popularity of this fizzy elixir spread like wildfire.

Across the great expanse of the Atlantic, in the Land of the Free, druggists and apothecaries took to mixing medicinal ingredients with carbonated water, creating a veritable panoply of flavors and concoctions. These, my dear reader, were the prototypes of what would become the soda pop we know and cherish today.

It is in the year 1807, that we find the first recorded instance of the term "soda water" being used in print.

This was in the bustling metropolis of New York, a fitting birthplace for the nomenclature of such a revolutionary beverage.

THE GOLDEN AGE OF SODA (1830 - 1900)

bottle of Coca-Cola
© History Oasis

It is in the 1830s that the annals of soda history become particularly rich and varied.

Ginger Ale

Source: Cantrell & Cochrane

It was in the 1850s that Thomas Joseph Cantrell crafted the first ginger ale in Belfast, Ireland.

Soda fountains

Soda fountains, those most wondrous of establishments, began to sprout up in American cities, like wildflowers in a meadow.

A refuge for the weary traveler, these establishments offered a tantalizing array of flavors, from the bitter to the sweet, and everything in between.

Perhaps the most famous of these early soda fountains was the one operated by John Matthews, an English immigrant and entrepreneur.

With his patented "soda fountain apparatus," Matthews' establishment became a veritable Mecca for New Yorkers in search of refreshment.


In 1851, a man by the name of John S. Pemberton, an Atlanta pharmacist and Civil War veteran, stumbled upon a concoction that would change the course of history.

Combining the stimulants of coca leaves and kola nuts, he created a syrup that would be mixed with carbonated water to produce a drink called Coca-Cola. This particular brew of "brain tonic," as it was called in those days, would become the drink of choice for generations to come.

Root Beer

Source: Hires

Charles Hires, a Philadelphia pharmacist, introduced the first commercially produced root beer in 1875, initially marketed as "Hires' Herb Tea" before rebranding it as "Root Beer" to appeal to his target audience of Pennsylvania coal miners. Within a couple of decades later, the famous root beer float would be invented.

Dr. Pepper

© History Oasis

Following closely on the heels of Coca-Cola's success, a beverage named Dr Pepper was born in 1885 in Waco, Texas. Created by Charles Alderton, a young pharmacist, Dr Pepper was a unique blend of 23 flavors that captivated the American palate.


In the closing years of the 19th century, the world was introduced to yet another fizzy delight. In 1893, a pharmacist named Caleb Bradham concocted a beverage called "Brad's Drink," which later, in 1898, would be christened "Pepsi-Cola."

This new soda was a direct competitor to Coca-Cola, and the two would vie for the affections of a thirsty nation for decades to come.


Cola Wars
© History Oasis

As the 20th century dawned, a war began to brew in the realm of soda pop.

Coca-Cola and Pepsi-Cola locked horns in a battle that would become known as the "Cola Wars." This conflict, my dear reader, would be waged not with muskets and bayonets, but with marketing campaigns and slogans, each company striving to win the hearts, minds, and taste buds of the American people.

During the early years of the Cola Wars, Coca-Cola held the upper hand, its red and white logo becoming an iconic symbol of Americana.
However, Pepsi-Cola was not to be outdone. In the 1930s, they introduced the clever and enticing "Pepsi Generation" campaign, which sought to capture the spirit of a new and youthful age.

This bold move resonated with the American public, and Pepsi's popularity surged.


Source: Irn-Bru

Scotland's favorite soda, Irn-Bru, is launched in 1901. It's originally called "Iron Brew".


Source: Cheerwine

The southern cherry flavored favorite, Cheerwine, is launched.

Mountain Dew

The 1940s saw the rise of yet another major player in the soda game. In 1940, Barney and Ally Hartman, two beverage bottlers from Tennessee, created a new carbonated concoction called "Mountain Dew."

This citrus-flavored soda, with its distinctively bright color and invigorating taste, quickly became a favorite among the soda-sipping public.

During these years, soda pop became an integral part of the American experience.

Soda fountains, which had once been the domain of druggists and apothecaries, now took on a life of their own. These establishments, often found in the heart of a town or city, became gathering places for the young and old, a spot where one could share a fizzy beverage, a laugh, and perhaps even a dance.


can of soda
© History Oasis

As the 1950s rolled around, the world of soda pop was forever changed by the advent of new technologies and innovations.

The Aluminum Can

Perhaps the most significant of these was the aluminum can, which allowed for the mass production and distribution of soda in a manner that was both convenient and cost-effective.

During this period, Coca-Cola and Pepsi-Cola continued to dominate the soda market, introducing new flavors and marketing campaigns that captivated the American public.

Coca-Cola, in particular, introduced its famous "Coke is it!" slogan, which became synonymous with the brand for years to come.


Source: Jarritos

Mexican soft drink company Jarritos is founded in 1950.

Diet Sodas

The 1960s and 1970s saw a rise in diet sodas, as health-conscious consumers sought out sugar-free alternatives to their favorite fizzy beverages.

Both Coca-Cola and Pepsi-Cola introduced diet versions of their flagship products, Diet Coke and Diet Pepsi, respectively.

New Coke

Source: The Coca-Cola Company

In the 1980s, a most peculiar and curious event occurred. In 1985, Coca-Cola, in an attempt to reinvigorate its brand, introduced "New Coke," a reformulated version of its classic beverage.

Alas, the American public was not amused. A storm of protest and discontent raged across the nation, and Coca-Cola was forced to reintroduce the original formula, now dubbed "Coca-Cola Classic."


an energy drink
© History Oasis

As we entered the final decade of the 20th century, the soda industry continued to evolve and expand.

Subtitle: Sprite, 7UP & Fanta

New flavors and variations abounded, with brands such as Sprite, 7UP, and Fanta becoming household names.

Environmental concerns led to the introduction of recyclable and biodegradable packaging, as soda companies sought to lessen their impact on the Earth.

The aluminum can and the plastic bottle, once symbols of convenience and progress, were now scrutinized for their ecological impact.

Energy Drinks

The 21st century has seen the rise of energy drinks, as well as an increased focus on natural and organic sodas. However, other niche brands like Jolt Cola are discontinued.

Craft soda companies, with their unique flavors and artisanal production methods, have sprung up in towns and cities across the nation, offering a refreshing alternative to mass-produced beverages.

And so, dear reader, we arrive at the present day, where soda pop remains an integral part of our culture and daily lives. From the humble beginnings of Joseph Priestley's carbonated water to the global empires of Coca-Cola and Pepsi-Cola, the history of soda is a tale of innovation, competition, and the indomitable human spirit.

As we look to the future, it is difficult to say what new developments and discoveries may lie in store for the world of soda. Perhaps we will see a resurgence of the soda fountain, or the rise of new, healthier alternatives to sugar-laden beverages.

One thing, however, is certain:

the allure of the fizzy, refreshing elixir we call soda pop is unlikely to wane anytime soon.