Soda Pops of the 1800s, 1900s, ‘20s, ‘30s, ‘40s, ‘50s and ‘60s
Whether it is cola, root beer, fruit-flavored, or diet, if you drink soda pop or non-carbonated beverages, you have your own taste-bud-pleasing favorites. From the soda fountains of yesterday to the plastic pop bottles of today, many brands have hit the marketplace; some are still here, and some are long gone. The fizzy stuff now called “liquid candy" actually has a very long history.
The Early Days of Soda Pop and Soft Drinks
The earliest types of carbonated soft drinks were waters found in natural mineral springs. In the 13th century, fruits, herbs, flowers and vegetation (such as dandelions) were used to ferment and flavor carbonated waters. Non-carbonated soft drinks made up of water, honey, and lemon juice appeared in the late 1600s. In 1767, Englishman Joseph Priestley mixed water and carbon dioxide, the result was soda (carbonated) water. Juices, wines, and spices were added to the soda water; the products were sold in English pharmacies.
Phosphate soda was introduced in the United States in the late 19th century. Soda fountain drinks with fruit juice, phosphoric acid, and carbonated water became very popular and by the early 1920s, most drugstores featured soda fountains.
Soda fountains were popular in dime and drugstores, ice cream parlors, department stores and train stations. During the late 1930s and throughout the 1940s and 1950s, many stores that with soda fountains installed snack and lunch counters to sell sandwiches, ice cream treats and chocolate phosphates. In the 1960s, the appearance of vending machines, drive-in restaurants and dairy dessert stands meant that fewer drugstores and the like featured an “old-fashioned” soda fountain. Currently, vintage soda fountains may be found at locations which promote the nostalgia of days past.
“Pop”- ular Bottled and Fountain Soda Pops
- Coca Cola. In 1888, Atlanta pharmacist John Pemberton mixed up sweet, brown-colored syrup with soda water. Coca-Cola was then sold at a neighborhood drug store that had a soda fountain, selling about nine 5-cent glasses per day. Coca-Cola has developed many products in its long history including Sprite (1961), TaB (1963) and Fanta (1941).
- Cotton Club. The Cotton Club Bottling Company of Cleveland, Ohio was founded in 1902 as Miller-Becker Bottlers, named after Isaac Miller and Eli Becker. In 1954, a new bottling plant was built on E. 49th street when, that same year, soft drinks were sold in cans as well as bottles. The company name was changed to Cotton Club in 1963. During the 1960s and 1970s, the company bottled a variety of soft drinks with the Cotton Club name; grape, orange, ginger ale (and a ginger ale called Big Ginger 50/50, cola, root beer, cherry-strawberry, a fruit punch-soda called Tropical Delight and a red pop called Cherikee Red. Some Cotton Club products are still available in Ohio.
- Dr Pepper. Introduced in 1885, Dr Pepper (with no period to punctuate the Dr) was marketed in the United States after the turn of the century. Its taste is, according to company leaders, hard to describe; the formula contains 23 flavors. The soda was promoted as a refreshing “pick-me-up” drink, much like its competitors. Early marketing slogans for Dr Pepper included “Good For Life” (1940s), “Dr Pepper Has 23 Flavors” (1945), “The Friendly Pepper Upper” (1950), “America’s Most Misunderstood Soft Drink” (1960), “The Most Original Soft Drink Ever” (1970) and the popular “Be a Pepper” campaign of the late 1970s.
- Hires Root Beer. Created in 1876 by Philadelphia pharmacist Charles Hires, the product began as a powdered extract that consumers could mix with their own soda water. In 1888, Hires developed a liquid product for drugstore soda fountains and the root beer was bottled in 1890. The company was sold in the 1960s and changed hands several times through the 1980s. Dr Pepper Snapple Group now owns the Hires brand.
Pepsi Cola. Pepsi was developed in 1898; created by North Carolina drugstore owner Caleb Bradham. The Pepsi company organized in 1902 and set its trademark a year later. By 1907, there were 40 factories creating the Pepsi syrup; producing 100,000 gallons that year. Because the price of sugar fluctuated dramatically following World War I, along with poor business decisions, the company went bankrupt in 1923.
The Pepsi company was purchased at auction but went bankrupt again following the Great Depression of the 1930s. After reorganization, the company introduced the 12-ounce, 5-cent bottle of Pepsi, paving the way to the product’s success. Early marketing slogans for Pepsi include “Twice As Much For a Nickel” (1940s), “The Light Refreshment” (1950s), “Taste That Beats the Others Cold” (mid 1960s) and “You’ve Got a Lot to Live” (early 1970s).
RC (Royal Crown) Cola. RC Cola was actually ginger ale when first created by Claud Hatcher in the basement of his family’s grocery store in 1905. The company, called Union Bottling Works, produced cherry-flavored Chero-Colaand then changed its name to the Chero-Cola Company. The company changed its name again in 1928 to the Nehi Corporation when the fruit-flavored carbonated soft drinks became popular. The company created Royal Crown Cola in 1934 and the first sugar-free soda pop on the market was introduced in 1962; Diet Rite Cola.
More Soda Pops and Soft Drinks
7 Up/Lithiated Lemon/Seven Up (1929), Bubble Up (1919), Barq’s Root Beer (1898), Big Red Cream Soda (1937), Bireley’s Fruit Drinks (assorted flavors, 1930), Boylan’s (assorted flavors, 1891), Canada Dry Ginger Ale (1904), Cheerwine (1917), Chero-Cola (1912);
Dad’s Root Beer (1937), Diet-Way Cola (1962), Dixi-Cola (1928/1947), Dr. Brown’s (assorted flavors, 1865), Faygo (1907), Filbert’s Old Time Root Beer (1926), Fitz’s Root Beer (1947), Foxon Park (1922), Fresca (1966), Frostie Root Beer (1939), Good Grape (1922), Grapette (1939), IBC Root Beer (1919), Knapp’s Root Beer Extract (Circa 1890), Kreemo Special Root Beer (1909);
Lemon’s Superior Sparkling Ginger Ale (1871), Marvel/Jumbo/Double Cola (1924), Minute Maid (1945), Mission (assorted flavors, 1929), Nehi (assorted Flavors, 1924), Nu-Grape (1921), Orange Crush (assorted flavors, 1906), Pommac (1919, U.S. sales in 1963-1969);
Red Rock Ginger Ale (1885), Schweppes Ginger Ale (1870), Schweppes Bitter Lemon (1957), Shasta (1889), Ski (1956), Squirt (1938), Sun Drop (1949), Super Coola (assorted flavors, 1949), Teem (1964), Triple XXX Root Beer (1895), Try-me ( assorted flavors, 1919), Vess (1916), Welch’s (1869), White Rock Beverages (1871), Wink (1965).
Cola or Uncola?
What's your pleasure?
Questions & Answers
- Helpful 21
Any chance Rondo will be coming back?
Rondo was a lightly carbonated citrus-flavored soda first produced by Cadbury-Schehweppes in 1978 and was sold primarily in cans of green and yellow with black font. There is a similar product (by the same company) called Solo; it is sold in Australia. I have not found any information about whether Rondo will be reintroduced in North America, but you can contact CS to ask about it; perhaps one of their current products has a similar taste.
I didn’t see the soda pop Buffalo Rock in your list. I believe it was bottled in Birmingham AL. I think it was later bought out by Pepsi & eventually discontinued. Ever hear of it?
You didn't miss Buffalo Rock in this article; it's not listed. Unfortunately, this piece could not possibly include every bottling company and soda product within the United States of that time period -- there were so many of them, especially independent ones in regional areas. However, you're right; Buffalo Rock Ginger Ale was first produced in Birmingham, Alabama in 1901. Called Golden Ginger Ale or Buffalo Rock, it is still produced by Pepsi under an independent bottler and available in the southeast and for purchase online. For more information, visit buffalorock.com.
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© 2014 Teri Silver