When Was Soda Pop Invented?
In 1767, Joseph Priestley found the secret of giving water that soda fizz over 200 years ago. 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. But plain soda water wasn’t very exciting.
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.
In 1807, a Philadelphia druggist named Speakman, mixed carbonated water for a local doctor’s patients to help their indigestion. To make it flavorful, he added sugar and some fruit juice. The patients loved it, and not just to cure indigestion.
No wonder – Speakman had invented soda pop! Soda pop got its name from the sound that escaping gas made when the early cork stoppers were removed from the bottles. Johann Jacob Schweppe 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 commercialized 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, dandelion, sarsaparilla, fruit extracts, and other substances. Flavorings were also added to improve the taste.