[Best of Wikipedia] Soft Drink Origins


Soda. Pop. Coke. Fizzy drink.

Seeing as how most soft drinks were made by chemists, it’s not surprise that there are some strange origins to many of the sodas we all know and love. I’ve scoured Wikipedia to bring you some of the more interesting stories.

Coca Cola

Most everyone already knows that Coca-Cola was originally made with cocaine. Do you know how much? Originally, the creator called for five ounces of coca leaf extract per gallon of syrup, which is quite a bit. Eventually, the amount was lowered to 9 milligrams before being eliminated in its active  form in 1903. The following year, they reintroduced the extract, but from “spent” leaves, which contains only trace amounts of cocaine. The manufacturing plant that produces the extract is the only one licensed to import and process the coca plant in the United States.

7 Up

Lemon-lime beverages seemed to lag behind dark brown syrupy ones. The inventor of 7 Up originally named his product “Bib-Label Lithiated Lemon-Lime Soda”, and was disingenuously introduced just two weeks before theWall Street Crash of 1929. Until 1950, the original recipe contained lithium citrate, a mood-stabilizing drug. It was one of a number of patent medicine products popular in the late-19th and early-20th centuries.

Dr Pepper

Since it was originally introduced in Waco, Texas in 1885, the uniquely tasting soft drink has had over 40 official marketing slogans, including the insipid, “Dr Pepper has 23 flavors.” Someone actually got paid  to write that. Roanoke VA drinks more than anyone else;

In 2008, as a sort of challenge to Axl Rose, Dr Pepper claimed they would give everyone in America a free Dr Pepper if he released his album Chinese Democracy (in production for 14 years) before the end of 2008. He did and the company’s website was brought to its knees with requests for coupons for a free Dr Pepper.

Schweppes’ Tonic Water

Schweppes has been manufacturing its tonic water since 1771, making it the oldest soft drink in the world. Tonic water contains quinine, which not only can be used as prophylaxis against malaria, but also fluoresces under ultraviolet light. Cool.

Pepsi Cola

Originally introduced as “Brad’s Drink”, the name was later changed to Pepsi Cola, referring to the digestive enzyme “pepsin” and the kola nut, which imparts caffeine to the beverage. The Pepsi Cola Company declared bankruptcy in 1931, in large part because of speculation on the unstable sugar market during World War I.


Many people know that Fanta was created because of difficulties importing Coca-Cola syrup into Nazi Germany during World War II. Many people don’t know that it used only ingredients available in Germany at the time, including whey and pomace, or the “leftovers of leftovers”, as the creator called them. The name was the result of a brief brainstorming session, which started with Keith exhorting his team to “use their imagination” (“Fantasie” in German), to which one of his salesmen, Joe Knipp, immediately retorted “Fanta!”


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