July 11, 2011
Years ago, I was in Scandinavia, where they had flavored carbonated beverages labeled saying they contained 0.7% alcohol. I laughed at the time, not completely comprehending what was really going on. Truth is, it was a beverage that was bottle conditioned to create carbonation, which resulted in the 0.7% alcohol.
In fact, that is how soda pop got its start: it was a very young and not completely fermented beer, which is sometimes referred to as being a small beer, around 1-3% AVB. These beers, which lead the names Ginger Ale and Root Beer, would have been bottle conditioned to make them carbonated. This is where the term “soft drink” comes from, as it has traces of alcohol but is not “hard” like alcohol. Homemade soda pop may not have gained the footing it has today if it had not have been for Prohibition. People were brewing their own beer and wine, so the transition to brewing their own homemade root beer with the same equipment was quite simple.
Modern commercial soda actually started when Brit Jospeph Priestly was making an observation of gases being realized from fermenting beer, which he then studied and it was realized they could trap the gas in water. He published his findings in 1772, which was likened to soda springs, leading to the term “soda water” in 1789 and the rise of “soda fountains.” Soda water was originally marketed as a health drink, and sometimes it was the medium in which certain medicines were delivered into the body. In fact, the development of Cola-Cola came about because Atlanta was going to experiment with Prohibition in 1886, causing the inventor, pharmacist John Pemberton, to mix the syrup with soda water instead, which he marketed as a cure for headaches.
- Do you call it soda, pop, or coke? This includes a map of the study’s findings.
- Time line of soda pop
- History of specific types of soda pop, including 7-up, Dr Pepper, Pepsi, and Coca-Cola.
- A History of the World in Six Glasses, Section 6: Coca-Cola and the Rise of America.