What Was The First Soda Ever Made? 

  • By: Max S.
  • Date: December 23, 2022
  • Time to read: 5 min.

Soda has been a beverage staple for the longest time. You can always rely on an ice-cold soda, whether you’re thirsty on a hot summer day or need something to wash down a delicious meal. 

But have you ever wondered how the first soda was made? This article will tell you everything you need to know about soda! 

The story begins in 1767 when Joseph Priestly, a European Chemist, infused water with carbon dioxide, creating the first carbonated beverage. Later In the 1880s, companies like Vernors, Dr. Brown, and others companies started their journey into a marvelous bubbly adventure of flavored soda brands. 

What Was The First Flavored Soda? 

However, some argue that Schweppes did not become a ‘soda’ brand until the company started selling flavored drinks in 1835, but even by that metric, Schweppe still ranks as the world’s oldest soda brand. In comparison, the oldest soda in the United States is Vernor’s ginger ale, which was released in 1866. Followed by Dr. Brown’s Root Beer in 1869.

dr browns rootbeer

Who Invented Vernors? 

Vernors is the oldest flavored ginger ale, James Vernor (a Detroit pharmacist) accidentally invented it in the 1860s. Mr. Vernor was working on a tonic to be used as a medicinal combination of spices and vanilla, adding ginger to calm stomach woes. And what a wonderful surprise was discovered. 

Later he was called to serve in the Civil War in 1862, he left he creation to age over his time away in an oak barrel for the next four years. When Vernor returned home in 1866, found there was the invention of what would now be called ginger ale. It was not only good, but also had developed a uniquely enjoyable flavor from being aged in the wooden oak barrel.

He first started to sell the drink at his soda fountain, but then later started selling bottling franchises to people who would agree to stick to his original recipe. Eventually, he would build a factory in Detroit to mass produce the ginger ale.

Is The Oldest Flavored Soda Still Available?

You can find this sweet zesty beverage still being sold across the US in major grocery stores. Mr. Vernon’s son would then run the company after his father perished and was said to have only retired just briefly before his passing in 1927. The company that had grown with Detroit and was fondly remembered along the riverside and occasionally enjoyed as a float, is now owned by the Dr. Pepper Snapple Group. 

When Was The First Diet Soda Invented?

The first diet soda, No-Cal, was developed by Hyman Kirsch in 1952. Kirsch, a Russian immigrant, created this sugar-free soft drink for diabetic and cardiovascular patients using cyclamate, a synthetic sweetener about 30 times sweeter than sugar with little to no calories.

No-Cal quickly became popular with the dieting industry when actress Kim Novak became the brand’s celebrity spokesperson. Beverage companies took note of this and began to manufacture and market diet sodas to women trying to lose weight. 

Canada Dry released a line of diet sodas called Glamor, followed by Diet-Rite Cola by Royal Crown Cola company in 1958. By the 1960s, Diet-Rite was the 4th best-selling soda in the United States, with dieters as the company’s target customers. 

Vintage-Diet-Rite-cola-ad-1

What Did People Drink Before Soda?

Before soda was invented, the drinks of choice in America were ale, beer, cider, wine, brandy, rum, and whiskey. This is because non-alcoholic beverages weren’t as popular or available, so people mainly opted for alcoholic drinks. 

For many decades, cider was the top choice for a drink in the United States before soda came along. When people weren’t drinking alcohol, the drinks of choice were coffee, tea, milk, or water. However, things began to change after the invention of refrigeration in the 1750s and carbonated water in 1767. 

What Was Soda Originally Called?

Sodas are called many other things. The most popular synonyms for soda are pop, soda pop, fizzy drinks, soft drinks, and carbonated beverages. 

Modern-day soda did not develop until the 18th century when scientists infused water and carbon dioxide to make carbonated water – also known as soda water. The word ‘soda’ derives from the chemical term ‘sodium salts’, as adding salts in carbonated water reduces its acidity. 

As the beverage industry grew in America, so did its vocabulary. People combined flavored syrups and carbonated water to create drinks to be consumed on the spot in places called soda fountains. The first soda fountain is said to have been in Connecticut, in the Northeast United States. This is why many people call fizzy drinks ‘soda.’ 

By the time fizzy drinks became popular, beverage companies had begun to produce bottled drinks and ship them to the Midwest. Most Midwesterners consumed their first fizzy drink from a bottle instead of soda fountains. The popping sound made by the cap resulted in carbonated beverages being called ‘pop’ in the Midwest.

Soda fountain girl

What Makes Soda A Soda? 

Until the 18th century, people in Europe and America used sodium bicarbonate to heal stomach aches by adding it to water. Sodium bicarbonate created a similar fizz that carbon dioxide does in soda. This sodium bicarbonate was called ‘soda’ in short and paved the way for fizzy drinks to be created. 

A soda starts with one guaranteed aspect: it has carbonated water (water with dissolved carbon dioxide) as its base ingredient. Sodas also contain sweeteners and natural or artificial flavoring to give them a particular taste and kick.

During the carbonation process, the carbon dioxide creates a bubbly sensation that gives soda its fun, tingly fizz. So, all in all, a soda cannot be a soda without some carbonation element. 

The colder the soda and the tighter it’s sealed, the fizzier your drink will be. This is because the most carbon dioxide that water can handle is about 8 grams per liter. So, when there is excess carbon dioxide, it will stay in the water until the pressure is released. Once the carbon dioxide escapes, the beverage goes flat. 

Conclusion

Several brands claim their soda is the oldest, but Schweppes takes that spot by a margin. The company’s founder, Johann Jacob Schweppe, was the first to manufacture and sell carbonated mineral water in 1783 and the first flavored soda in 1835. 

Although aimed at diabetic and cardiovascular patients, Schweppes quickly became popular within the dieting industry. Today, this 241-years old celebrated soda brand comes in various flavors and styles. As a result, the company gained a loyal fanbase and continues to rule the beverage industry.