Soft drinks are a massive market and a dominant force in the business world. Raking in billions and billions of dollars each year, the sugar-filled treats are a juggernaut. Every day, one in five Americans drink at least one can of soda. With soft drink advertising everywhere we turn, it’s difficult not to give in and drink their delicious goodness.
The soft drink’s history is an eye-catching one. Many interesting stories are told of the industry and its creation of the world’s most popular beverages. Listed below are the top 10 craziest facts about the soft drink industry. The list doesn’t focus on whether or not soda is good for you (because we all know it isn’t), but rather the crazy stories that originated from the soda industry. Get ready to change the way you think about the soft drinks you think you know.
10. The Infamous Coca-Cola Blak
Some things should never be combined. Coffee and soda are one of them. Released in 2006, the idea behind the coffee-flavored soda (called Coca-Cola Blak) was simple: capture the massive amount of coffee drinkers in the world and provide them a way to enjoy their favorite treat, soda-style. Easier said than done, as Coca-Cola Blak’s rollout didn’t exactly go as planned. On April 3rd, the drink was officially launched in the United States. Only two years later, the drink was discontinued. Like a bad dream, by 2009, there wasn’t a trace left of the oddball soft drink. Although there are plenty of weird flavors still in circulation, Blak is still in retirement.
9. Why Soda is Referred to as “Soft Drinks”
We all refer to soda differently. Depending on the region in which you live, you may call it “soda” or “pop”. However, the term “soft drink” is an umbrella term used to describe all types of soda. So…where did the term “soft drink” come from? Well, because of the problem of the varying terms mentioned above, all soda makers (specifically flavored carbonated beverages) were looking for a term that would cover all types of soda. It turns out that the term “soft drink” actually means any beverage that does not contain alcohol (which are known as “hard drinks”). Once advertising companies began using the term, it seemed to take off and is still in common use today.
8. How Dr. Pepper Was Invented
One of the first sodas created in the United States, Dr. Pepper was concocted by a drug store pharmacist in 1885. A bright, young pharmacist named Charles Alderton had a passion for medicine. He thoroughly enjoyed helping the people of his hometown in Waco, Texas and enjoyed the mixing of the medicine even more. But, he also liked to serve people soda from the soda fountain as well. Alderton always liked the sweet smell of the various medicines and fruit syrups that would permeate the air. He then set out to recreate that smell for a soft drink. Out of this process, Dr. Pepper was born.
7. The “Cola Wars” Experiment
Out of the many sodas in the world, two juggernauts stand head and shoulders above the rest: Coca-Cola and Pepsi. Naturally, these two companies became rivals. Psychologists tried to find out once and for all which soda was preferred. The results? Essentially a draw. Conducted in 2007, psychologists gave a blind taste test to a group of people and the participants were asked which soda tasted better. Not knowing which soda they were drinking, the majority of participants preferred Pepsi. However, when participants knew which soda they were drinking, they preferred Coke. The debate rages to this day.
6. How R.C. Cola Was Created
Claud A. Hatcher, whose family purchased a grocery store in the early 1900s, thought it would be a great idea to jump on the soft drink bandwagon. Around this time in history, soft drinks were becoming immensely popular. Trying to capitalize on this trend, Hatcher bought a large-volume quantity of Coca-Cola syrup from a local salesman. Once Hatcher was denied a special discount on the syrup, he vowed to create a soft drink of his own. The result? Ginger ale. Then, after some experimentation, R.C. Root Beer came about. One thing led to another and the recipe for R.C. Cola was then modified by a chemist in 1934. Royal Crown Cola is still being sold today, though it’s not nearly as popular as it was when it was first created.
5. Coca-Cola Company Secrets
When you think of people selling secrets, you may imagine a spy selling sensitive information to a country. Or, maybe a businessman is selling his company’s stock information. Well, this case isn’t exactly as intriguing as the other two, but interesting nonetheless. On July 6th, 2006, three people’s lives would change forever. Undercover officers had been building a relationship with three people, one of which was a Coca-Cola employee. The employee was willing to sell Coca-Cola’s ingredients to Pepsi Co. for a mere $1.5 million. The federal government got wind of this and quickly dispatched an undercover agent to investigate the situation. The three were arrested and thrown in jail.
4. Variable-Price Coca-Cola Machines
Imagine it’s a sweltering July afternoon. You pass by a Coke machine. The cool liquid depicted on the machine looks so refreshing and you can’t help but buy one. You’ve used the machine before, and it was $1.50. As you make your selection, the price pops up. You’re puzzled, as the price is now $1.75. When did they change the price? They didn’t. Variable-price Coke machines were vending machines that fluctuated the price depending on the temperature outside. A hotter day leads to higher demand. Taking the simple supply and demand theory, Coca-Cola thought they had hit a gold mine. However, variable-price Coke machines have yet to reach the U.S. and are scarcely used elsewhere.
3. Mountain Dew’s Original Use
In the 1930s, soft drinks were on the rise. The new invention was taking the U.S. by storm and its influence had no bounds. Take, for instance, two brothers who were living in Tennessee. Barney and Ally Hartman liked to mix soda with whiskey. However, their preferred brand of cola was extremely difficult to find in Knoxville. They even asked Coca-Cola for help, but they refused to let the brothers use their formula. Left with nothing, Barney and Ally took the initiative to create their own soda. Out of this, the first official formula for Mountain Dew was created in 1940.
2. Fanta Was Created in Nazi Germany
Coca-Cola’s plant in Germany hit a rough patch during World War II. Following a trade embargo, Coca-Cola couldn’t import its syrups into Nazi-occupied Germany. Stranded, the plant’s employees decided to come up with their own drink to sell while riding out the tide of war. The soft drink was created using random ingredients, famously described as the “leftovers of leftovers.” Incredibly, the team began to make a profit. Regarding the name, the team held brainstorming sessions. The leader of the team told the employees to “use their imagination” (which is “fantasie” in German) and one of the employees immediately shouted “Fanta!” The soft drink has always been more popular in other parts of the world outside the United States.
1. The Original 7 Up Contained Lithium Citrate
A drug that is used to treat some mental illnesses, lithium citrate relaxes the user and brings them down from their manic episodes. With this use in mind, it may intrigue you to know that this drug was widely consumed in the 1930s and 1940s. However, the users may not have known about it. Released in 1929, shortly before the Wall Street crash, 7 Up was originally the pricier of the lemon-lime sodas. Known as “Bib-Label Lithiated Lemon-Lime Soda” when released, the name didn’t quite catch on. So, to make it simpler to remember, they renamed it 7 Up in 1936. The soft drink continued to contain lithium citrate until 1950.