From Mineral Water to Coca-Cola


The carbonation in soda pop drinks has made brand names of Coca-Cola and Pepsi, but soda predates those two mega-brands.

Mineral water was the first soda pop. Scientist wondered what gave the water its bubbles and set out to find out, hoping the bubbles were also connected to the medicinal properties in the water.

Joseph Priestly Makes the First Carbonated Drink

English scientist Joseph Priestley made the first glass of carbonated water in 1767. He also discovered oxygen, ammonia, sulfur dioxide, nitrous oxide and rubber pencil erasers. His creation of carbonated water won his induction into the French Academy of Sciences in 1772.

Making Carbonated Water

In 1760, Torbern Bergman, a Swedish chemist, developed a machine to carbonate water. It used chalk and sulfuric acid to create the bubbles. The machine allowed for the mass production of carbonated water.

It was first called “soda water” in 1798.

Carbonated Water in the U.S.

It was another half century before “imitation mineral water” came to the U.S. Simons and Rundell in Charleston, S.C. got the first patent for their manufacturing process.

Their method did not allow for mass production. That came in 1832 when John Mathews invented his equipment to mass produce the water.

Meanwhile, Irishmen invented the cousin to soda pop, ginger ale, in 1851.

Water Becomes Medicine

Though mineral water was already considered medicinal, that didn’t stop pharmacists from adding their own ingredients to the water to make it even more medicinial. Herbs (such as dandelion and sarsaparilla) and medicines were added.

These drinks were mixed on premises, though, so when customers started wanting to take the drinks home, companies began bottling various formulations.

From Medicine to Treat

As the popularity of carbonated drinks grew with the public so did the ways to make it even more popular.

The first ice-cream soda was sold in 1874. Two years later, root beer was mass produced.

Cola drinks were introduced in 1881 and in 1885, Charles Alderton created “Dr. Pepper” in Waco, Texas. Alderton had experimented with different recipes and found this one was popular with customers. Before he named it Dr. Pepper, customers called the drink a “Waco.”

However, the most-famous soft drink in the world was invented the following year when John S. Pemberton invented Coca-Cola in Atlanta, Ga..

Modern Improvements

Aluminum cans were first used in 1957, but the pull-ring tab didn’t come about until five years later. Plastic bottled were first used in 1970.

The first diet cola was introduced in 1959.

Today, the carbonated beverage industry is a multi-million business that have made Coca-Cola, Pepsi Cola, Dr. Pepper and Hire’s Root Beer some of the most-recognizable brand names in the world.