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History of Soft Drinks

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The history of soft drinks starts with mineral water and the curative effects mineral water was believed to have.  The use of naturally carbonated mineral springs for medicinal purposes in Europe has an ancient history documented as far back as 77 A.D. by roman historians.  Europeans believed that the natural mineral springs and the bubbling waters of those springs had magical, mystical qualities and strong healing powers.  No one knew how the water could contain bubbles until scientists unraveled the mystery of carbonated water in the mid-eighteenth century.

History of Soft Drinks

In 1767, Joseph Priestly first created artificially carbonated water and his work set the stage for the manufacture of artificial soda and water.  Torbern Bergman, a Swedish chemist, created an apparatus for making artificial mineral water in 1770.  Neither of these gentlemen was successful in producing large enough quantities of carbonated water in an effective enough manner that allowed for resale.  It was not until 1783 that the process of making artificial mineral water was perfected.  Jacob Schweppe partnered with an engineer and scientist to perfect the process and form a business to sell artificial mineral water.  The business was brought to London in 1792 and the name Schweppe is still in use today as a brand name for tonic and soda waters. 

By the late 1700’s, the scientific groundwork for artificially producing mineral waters in the United States had begun and the first patent for an apparatus that could artificially produce mineral water was granted in 1810. The first patent for a soda fountain was granted to Samuel Fahnestock in 1819. In 1832, John Matthews invented an apparatus for making carbonated water. John Matthews supplied carbonated water to establishments in New York and he is credited with increasing the popularity of carbonated beverages that were drank cold and unflavored.  With the availability of carbonated water and the soda fountain the necessary technology and infrastructure was in place to allow pharmacists to dispense soda water to the public.

American pharmacists dispensed soda water for its medicinal properties in the early 1800’s. The belief that soda water had medicinal properties originated in Europe and spread to the United States.  Pharmacists dispensed soda water from the soda fountains that had been invented earlier in the century.  American pharmacists started to add flavors to the soda water they were selling.  Eugene Roussel is credited with being the first pharmacist to add flavors to his soda water being served from his soda fountain in his perfume shop in Philadelphia in 1839. 

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