The Story of 'Sodie Water'
SOFT DRINK HISTORY
IN THE OLD WEST
Hey, storekeep, what kinda sodie water ya got?
Ginger ale? Sarsaparillie? or any of that ther new fangled Root Beer?
The History of the Western Frontier and Soft Drink History Go Hand in Hand.
For more than 2,000 years mineral waters were considered to be beneficial to our well-being. But the Greeks and Romans never envisioned drinking the effervescent waters bubbling from the earth's crust. Instead, they used them for bathing and relaxation. More than a thousand years passed before mineral waters made the transition from therapeutic bath to refreshing beverage.
Soft drink history in America began with the discovery of the natural springs in New York and the legends and myths that soon developed. Since it was believed that these mysterious pools could cure everything from arthritis to indigestion, they soon attracted physicians and scientists who began studying the tiny bubbles fizzing from these waters. Scientists eventually proclaimed the air being released as gas carbonium -- simple carbon dioxide. Soon afterwards they perfected a way of producing artificially carbonated water in the laboratory. With that development, it was only a matter of time before soft drinks made it into the hands of the American public.
By the 1830's, both artificial and natural mineral waters were considered healthy and refreshing products in America. But pharmacists, believing they could improve upon their curative properties, experimented with a multitude of ingredients from birch bark to dandelions. And while no miracle cures developed, some very interesting flavors and tastes were discovered. Ginger ale, root beer, sarsaparilla, lemon and strawberry were among the most popular of the early flavors and are all part of soft drink history. For many years, America's pharmacists were the driving force behind the refinement of soft drinks and many of the flavors and combinations. Their association with chemistry and medicine made them ideally suited for this business, still part pharmacology and part refreshment.
The mushrooming demand for product resulted in the growth of the soft drink industry, from the pharmacies into a national industry. Inventors of soft drinks spread their products across America by opening a few strategically placed bottling facilities through franchise agreements. Eventually it became clear that supplying a growing nation's thirst for soft drinks would require more than a few additional bottling plants. But until the 1890's, the industry was primarily one of manual operations. Glass bottles were blown individually, while filling, sealing, mixing, and packaging were almost totally manual operations. Then, in 1892, soft drink history took a big turn when the "crown cap" was invented. Tiny in design, the crown completely revolutionized the soft drink industry by preventing the escape of carbon dioxide from bottled beverages. In fact, it was the dominant soft drink closure for more than 70 years.
Soon, after the crown cap's invention, soft drink history took another giant step forward when new automated machinery was developed, making the soft drink industry more efficient and productive. Between 1890 and 1910 the number of plants bottling soft drinks increased from 1,377 to 4,916, as sales soared. The industrial age was in full swing, America's population was exploding and soft drink demand was booming. This success was also felt in the frontier states as horse drawn wagons began traveling America. Many merchants realized the promising future of soft drinks and began stocking them in their stores.
Important Events In Soft Drink History:
1874 - The first ice-cream soda is served
1876 - Root beer is produced in quantity for public sale
1881 - First cola-flavored beverage is introduced
1892 - Invention of the crown bottle cap
1899 - First patent for a glass blowing machine, used to produce glass bottles
1913 - Motor trucks begin to replace horse drawn carriages as delivery vehicles.
1919 - Industry forms a national association, "American Bottlers of Carbonated Beverages"
1920 - U.S. Census reports more than 5,000 bottlers in business
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