iPhoneOgraphy – 24 Nov 2016 (Day 329/366)
A soft drink is a drink that typically contains carbonated water, a sweetener, and a natural or artificial flavoring. The sweetener may be sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, fruit juice, sugar substitutes (in the case of diet drinks), or some combination of these. Soft drinks may also contain caffeine, colorings, preservatives, and other ingredients.
Soft drinks are called “soft” in contrast to “hard drinks” (alcoholic beverages). Small amounts of alcohol may be present in a soft drink, but the alcohol content must be less than 0.5% of the total volume if the drink is to be considered non-alcoholic. Fruit punch, tea, and other such non-alcoholic beverages are technically soft drinks by this definition but are not generally referred to as such.
Soft drinks may be served chilled, over ice cubes or at room temperature. In rare cases, some soft drinks, such as Dr Pepper, can be served warm. Soft drinks are available in many formats, including cans, glass bottles, and plastic bottles (the latter in a variety of sizes ranging from small bottles to large 2-liter containers). Soft drinks are also widely available at fast food restaurants, movie theaters, convenience stores, casual dining restaurants, and bars from soda fountain machines. Soda fountain drinks are typically served in paper or plastic disposable cups in the first three venues. In casual dining restaurants and bars, soft drinks are often served in glasses. Soft drinks may be drunk with straws or sipped directly from the cups.
Soft drinks are mixed with other ingredients in several contexts. In Western countries, in bars and other places where alcohol is served (e.g., airplanes, restaurants and nightclubs) many mixed drinks are made by blending a soft drink with hard liquor and serving the drink over ice. One well-known example is the rum and coke, which may also contain lime juice. Some homemade fruit punch recipes, which may or may not contain alcohol, contain a mixture of various fruit juices and soda pop (e.g., ginger ale). At ice cream parlors and 1950s-themed diners, ice cream floats are often sold. Two popular ice cream floats are the coke float and the root beer float, which consist of a scoop of ice cream placed in a tall glass of the respectively named soft drinks.
The origins of soft drinks lie in the development of fruit-flavored drinks. In Tudor England ‘water imperial’ was widely drunk; it was a sweetened drink with lemon flavor and containing cream of tartar. ‘Manays Cryste’ was a sweetened cordial flavored with rosewater, violets or cinnamon.
Another early type of soft drink was lemonade, made of water and lemon juice sweetened with honey, but without carbonated water. The Compagnie des Limonadiers of Paris was granted a monopoly for the sale of lemonade soft drinks in 1676. Vendors carried tanks of lemonade on their backs and dispensed cups of the soft drink to Parisians.
In the late 18th century, scientists made important progress in replicating naturally carbonated mineral waters. In 1767, Englishman Joseph Priestley first discovered a method of infusing water with carbon dioxide to make carbonated water when he suspended a bowl of distilled water above a beer vat at a local brewery in Leeds, England. His invention of carbonated water (also known as soda water) is the major and defining component of most soft drinks.
Priestley found that water treated in this manner had a pleasant taste, and he offered it to his friends as a refreshing drink. In 1772, Priestley published a paper entitled Impregnating Water with Fixed Air in which he describes dripping oil of vitriol (or sulfuric acid as it is now called) onto chalk to produce carbon dioxide gas, and encouraging the gas to dissolve into an agitated bowl of water.
Another Englishman, John Mervin Nooth, improved Priestley’s design and sold his apparatus for commercial use in pharmacies. Swedish chemist Torbern Bergman invented a generating apparatus that made carbonated water from chalk by the use of sulfuric acid. Bergman’s apparatus allowed imitation mineral water to be produced in large amounts. Swedish chemist Jöns Jacob Berzelius started to add flavors (spices, juices, and wine) to carbonated water in the late eighteenth century.
Thomas Henry, an apothecary from Manchester, was the first to sell artificial mineral water to the general public for medicinal purposes, beginning in the 1770s. His recipe for ‘Bewley’s Mephitic Julep’ consisted of 3 drachms of fossil alkali to a quart of water, and the manufacture had to ‘throw in streams of fixed air until all the alkaline taste is destroyed’.
Johann Jacob Schweppes developed a similar process to manufacture carbonated mineral water at the same time. He founded the Schweppes Company in Geneva in 1783 to sell carbonated water, and relocated his business to London in 1792. His drink soon gained in popularity; among his new found patrons was Erasmus Darwin. In 1843, Schweppes commercialised Malvern Water at the Holywell Spring in the Malvern Hills, and was appointed the official supplier to the Royal Family.
It was not long before flavoring was combined with carbonated water. The earliest reference to carbonated ginger beer is in a Practical Treatise on Brewing. published in 1809. The drinking of either natural or artificial mineral water was considered at the time to be a healthy practice, and was promoted by advocates of temperance. Pharmacists selling mineral waters began to add herbs and chemicals to unflavored mineral water. They used birch bark (see birch beer), dandelion, sarsaparilla, fruit extracts, and other substances. Flavorings were also added to improve the taste.
Soft drinks soon outgrew their origins in the medical world and became a widely consumed beverage, available cheaply for the masses. By the 1840s there were more than fifty soft drinks manufacturers – an increase from just ten in the previous decade. For the Great Exhibition of 1851, Schweppes was designated the official drink supplier and sold over a million bottles of lemonade, ginger beer, Seltzer water and soda-water. There was a Schweppes soda water fountain, situated directly at the entrance to the Exhibition.
Mixer drinks became popular in the second half of the century. Tonic water was originally quinine added to water as a prophylactic against malaria and was consumed by British officials stationed in the tropical areas of South Asia and Africa. As the quinine powder was so bitter people began mixing the powder with soda and sugar, and a basic tonic water was created. The first commercial tonic water was produced in 1858. The mixed drink gin and tonic also originated in British colonial India, when the British population would mix their medicinal quinine tonic with gin.
A persistent problem in the soft drinks industry was the lack of an effective sealing of the bottles. Carbonated drink bottles are under great pressure from the gas, so inventors tried to find the best way to prevent the carbon dioxide or bubbles from escaping. The bottles could also explode if the pressure was too great. Hiram Codd devised a patented bottling machine while working at a small mineral water works in the Caledonian Road, Islington, in London in 1870. His Codd-neck bottle was designed to enclose a marble and a rubber washer in the neck. The bottles were filled upside down, and pressure of the gas in the bottle forced the marble against the washer, sealing in the carbonation. The bottle was pinched into a special shape to provide a chamber into which the marble was pushed to open the bottle. This prevented the marble from blocking the neck as the drink was poured.
By mid-1873 he had granted 20 licences and received a further 50 applications. This was boosted further by a Trade Show held in London in the same year. By 1874 the licence was free to bottle manufacturers as long as they purchased the marbles, sealing rings and used his groove tool, and the mineral water firms they traded with had already bought a licence to use his bottle.
In 1892, the “Crown Cork Bottle Seal” was patented by William Painter, a Baltimore, Maryland machine shop operator. It was the first bottle top to successfully keep the bubbles in the bottle. In 1899, the first patent was issued for a glass-blowing machine for the automatic production of glass bottles. Earlier glass bottles had all been hand-blown. Four years later, the new bottle-blowing machine was in operation. It was first operated by the inventor, Michael Owens, an employee of Libby Glass Company. Within a few years, glass bottle production increased from 1,400 bottles a day to about 58,000 bottles a day.
In America, soda fountains were initially more popular, and many Americans would frequent the soda fountain daily. Beginning in 1806, Yale University chemistry professor Benjamin Silliman sold soda waters in New Haven, Connecticut. He used a Nooth apparatus to produce his waters. Businessmen in Philadelphia and New York City also began selling soda water in the early 19th century. In the 1830s, John Matthews of New York City and John Lippincott of Philadelphia began manufacturing soda fountains. Both men were successful and built large factories for fabricating fountains. Due to problems in the U.S. glass industry, bottled drinks remained a small portion of the market throughout much of the 19th century. (However, they were known in England. In The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, published in 1848, the caddish Huntingdon, recovering from months of debauchery, wakes at noon and gulps a bottle of soda-water).
In the early 20th century, sales of bottled soda increased exponentially, and in the second half of the 20th century, canned soft drinks became an important share of the market.
During the 1920s, “Home-Paks” were invented. “Home-Paks” are the familiar six-pack cartons made from cardboard. Vending machines also began to appear in the 1920s. Since then, soft drink vending machines have become increasingly popular. Both hot and cold drinks are sold in these self-service machines throughout the world.