People often confuse soft drinks as just sodas. However, any beverage that does not have alcohol or dairy products is considered to be a soft drink. They include bottled waters, iced tea, fruit punch and soda.
The history of soft drinks can be traced back to ancient times. “Ancient societies believed that bathing in natural springs and drinking mineral waters could cure many diseases” (Wikipedia.org)
The sherbet is most likely the earliest soft drink. Developed in the Near East during the medieval times, these juices were made of crushed herbs, fruits and flowers. These sherbets are totally different from the frozen ones we enjoy today.
The first naturally carbonated drink appeared around 1265 in England. Dandelion and Burdock was very popular during that time.
Non-carbonated soft drinks were first marketed in the West during the 17th century. The drinks were made of honey, lemon and water. Marketer carried barrels of this drink on their backs and sold them to the people in towns.
In the 18th century carbonated drinks were introduced to the world. Wanting to replicate naturally carbonated water “Joseph Priestly discovered a method of infusing water with carbon dioxide to make carbonated water” (Wikipedia.org). With its pleasant taste, carbonated water became very popular. Later on in the century, flavors were introduced to the water.
In the early 1800s, soda water was popular in the United States. Using a Nooth apparatus, Benjamin Silliman sold soda by dispensing them in cups and glasses. This was the birth of the soda fountain. Since this was a major success, large factories were producing soda fountains be the 1830s.
Since mineral water was and still is a healthy beverage, Pharmacists set about to improve the taste. They added herbs and used “birch bark, dandelion, sarsaparilla, fruit extracts and other substances” (Wikipedia.org).
Soda fountains began emerging in many drug stores. People would go to one on a daily basis.
While soft drinks were on the rise during the 19th century, the sales of bottled beverages took up only a small part of the market. This was because of the majority of the consumers going to soda bars. It was not until the early 1900s when the sales of bottled drinks rose dramatically. In the second half of the century, canned drinks took up a large part of the market.
The Crown Cork Bottle Seal was invented in 1892. Wanting to keep the carbonation in the bottle, to keep the drink from going flat, many patents were tried. This “was the first very successful method of keeping the bubbles in the bottle.” (Wikipedia.org).
In 1899, a glass blowing machine was used for the first time to make glass bottles. Prior to this, the bottles were hand blown. This new innovation increased the production of bottles from 1,400 to 58,000 a day.
The first vending machines began appearing in the 1920s. At the same time, sodas were sold in take home packs. Just like when you go today to buy a six pack of soda, you have the convenient plastic ring to carry them. However, the carriers were made of cardboard.
Today the soft drink industry is steadily growing. With plastic bottles and new flavors being added each day, it is expected to continue its market growth.