Ever wondered about the origins of American Soda? Or why it’s not just called American Soda, but also American Pop? Or simply American drinks? What more is there to know about Coca-Cola and Pepsi? The same goes for Fanta and 7 Up. Root Beer and Iced Tea are quintessential American drinks. So what?
Well, hold on to your hats for a fizzy fact finding safari through American soda…
1. The Origins of American Soda (and American Pop)
Soda was invented in the early 1800s. It was the result of entrepreneurs trying to copy naturally sparkling spring water. These waters contained sodium, a common mineral. But it wasn’t easy to collect mineral water. And it was even harder to store it as it quickly lost its sparkle.
“Taking mineral waters” was a fashionable pastime. It was also seen as a cure for all manner of ailments. The entrepreneurs knew this and the race was on! In 1809 a method was finally patented in the USA. It involved mixing water with bicarbonate of soda and an acid. American soda was thus born. The method has evolved over more than two hundred years. There are now more flavours and variations than anyone could have imagined back in 1809!
So the word “soda” is thought to be derived from sodium. Although it could just be named after soda as in bicarbonate of. Nobody knows. Likewise, “Pop” probably comes from the sound of a fizzy drink being opened. Or to put it another way “pop goes the soda!”
2. Different Names for American Soda in the USA
We call it American soda or American pop. Americans call it many other things! And this is largely a regional thing. In Southern American states cold American drinks are simply called “coke” or “cola” Obviously generic terms. And it shows the massive influence of Coca-Cola and PepsiCo. While in Midwestern sates like Michigan and Kansas “pop” is the most popular word!
But soda and pop are sometimes pulled together. Thus “soda pop” is widely used in Western US states. In North Eastern states “tonic” was once the preferred name. However, “soda” is rapidly taking over now. From Southern Virginia to Louisiana “cold drink”, “soda” or just “drink” will do nicely. Similarly “cold drink” or “soft drink” works well in New Orleans and Texas. In more rural areas American soda is known simply as “soda water”.
3. Coca-Cola + PepsiCo = Big Business in American Soda Market
American Soda is a multi-billion dollar industry. Just Coca-Cola and PepsiCo combined accounted for $100 billion in 2016. Which is probably almost the same number of Coke and Pepsi drinks actually sold! Seeing as each drink sells for around just a dollar or two.
You might not know that Mountain Dew is a PepsiCo brand. Nor that Fanta is owned by Coca-Cola. But more about these two American drinks brands later.
Coca-Cola has especially penetrated the American psyche. So much so that “Cokelore” is well-established in the language of American pop.
4. Staying with Coca-Cola – the most popular and best selling American soda in the world, ever!
Having trouble deciding which Coca-Cola product to buy? Well, it’s not very surprising! Over 3,500 different American drinks are marketed by Coca-Cola.
Coca-Cola’s American soda brands include Coca-Cola – obviously! And in lots of different containers. The original Coke glass bottle is iconic. While cans and plastic bottles also contain a multitude of flavours and calorie counts! Another Coca-Cola brand is Sprite. The world’s leading lemon and lime flavoured American soda. We’ve already mentioned Fanta. But we’re not quite there yet!
“Passover Coke” is a seasonal American soda. It is produced in March and April especially for Passover. Standard Coke isn’t considered kosher as it’s sweetened with high fructose corn syrup. The consumption of corn is forbidden during Passover. Corn syrup is therefore replaced by pure sugar cane. Passover Coke is very popular. Its limited production time leads to much stockpiling!
5. But Many People Nowadays Like Pepsi Brands Instead
Pepsi has its own iconic status. It also markets a long list of American soda as well as American food in general. But we’re interested in American drinks here! As well as original Pepsi, there is Pepsi Cherry Vanilla too! Pepsi also has it’s own seasonal American soda with Christmas Pepsi.
Among the American soda brands owned by PepsiCo is Mountain Dew. If Mountain Dew Original sounds interesting, you should try Mountain Dew Game Fuel! Mango Heat is but one fab flavour! Mountain Dew Pitch Black and Mountain Dew Whiteout add stark contrasting colour. While Mountain Dew Code Red keeps you on alert! Otherwise recharge your batteries with a slurp of Mountain Dew Voltage. This is packed with flavour and ginseng!
Starbucks Refreshers are marketed by PepsiCo. Black Cherry Limeade with Coconut Water Refreshers does what it says on the tin. So does Strawberry Lemonade Refresher!
6. Recipes for Success (or not)!
And now we come to Fanta! “Fanta” comes from the German word “fantasie”. This is because Fanta was invented in Germany! During World War Two America imposed a trade ban against Nazi Germany. Coca-Cola in Germany was thus cut off from the ingredients needed to make “the real thing”. But never fear! An enterprising manager there, Max Keith, developed an alternative.
The result was Fanta. But luckily not as we know it today! It was basically made from anything they could find. Sugar beet, apple fibre, orange juice and even the by-products of cheese making! In other words “the leftovers of leftovers” as Keith himself put it. The Dutch Coca-Cola plant had the same problem. So Max Keith gave them his alternative American pop recipe too!
Happily, at the end of the war the German and Dutch operations were reunited with Coca-Cola America. Not surprisingly Fanta production stopped! However, Fanta re-emerged in 1955 as a much improved all American soda. Today it has more than a hundred flavours worldwide. Mango, Berry Blue and Grape are just a taste of these.
Talking of unusual ingredients take a certain lemon flavoured American soda. It was first marketed as a product that “Settles the stomach.” And it was “For Hospital or home use.” One of the ingredients was a mood stabilising drug, Lithium Citrate. This was used to treat depression and bipolar. It is now only available on prescription. And the soda? Why, 7 Up of course! Which remains a hugely popular American soda, but without Lithium citrate!
Meanwhile the ingredients for Dr Pepper are still “top secret”. Their website claims that “Dr Pepper is a unique blend of 23 flavours”. But exactly what these are has never been revealed! Although in vanilla cherry flavour maybe only 20 ingredients remain “top secret”!?
7. Root Beer and Iced Tea
Root Beer and Iced Tea are what we would consider quintessential American soda. Root Beer is very versatile. It can be alcoholic or non-alcoholic. You can buy carbonated or non-carbonated Root Beer. Some Root Beer contains caffeine others don’t. Most Root Beer, however, is sweet with a thick foamy head.
Root Beer has its roots firmly in the 19th Century. It was first marketed in the US in the 1890s. And was originally made using the root and bark of the sassafras tree. But the sassafras tree was found to have cancerous properties. In the 1960s the US Food and Drug Administration therefore banned sassafras products. Root Beer is now flavoured with artificial sassafras. For a taste of traditional (but non-cancerous) Root Beer try A&W Root Beer or Frostie Root Beer. Or for a twist on Root Beer you may enjoy Flying Cauldron Butterscotch Beer.
Iced Tea is popular around the world today. But its popularity in America goes all the way back to the 1870s. Nowadays it accounts for 85% of all tea drunk in America. It is also a favoured alternative to American pop.
Arizona Beverages produce many American drinks. Soda Shaq Strawberry Cream is just one. But Arizona is most famous for being America’s number one iced tea brand. Their huge range includes Iced Tea with Peach and Iced Tea with Strawberry to name but two. Arizona even makes Root Beer Iced Tea which can be fizzy or flat. (See Root Beer above!).
8. Swallowing the Hype!
Both Coca-Cola and PepsiCo have had their American pop promotional flops! One of Coca-Cola’s most infamous was the “Magican”.
Launched in the summer of 1990 each special can contained a prize. The prizes included cash and concert tickets. These were placed in small chambers full of chlorinated water. They were then put inside the Magicans. However, some of the mechanisms designed to release the chambers were faulty.
This resulted in some people swallowing the chlorinated water by mistake! While not exactly poisonous, it tasted disgusting! And at least one trip was taken to the Emergency Room. Posters were printed to warn people of the dangers. But despite this the promotion lasted only three weeks!
9. Harrier Jump Jet Jets Into American Soda History!
Pepsi tried a different promotional approach in 1996. This was a points programme. The more Pepsi you bought, the more points you got. The points could be exchanged for Pepsi products like hats and T-shirts. What could be simpler? The problem came when business student John Leonard claimed the “top prize.”
Pepsi had advertised the promotion with a teaser campaign. This showed a Harrier Jump Jet. Yours for just seven million points! The equivalent of more Pepsi than could be drunk in fifty lifetimes! Or so PepsiCo thought. They had not bargained on John Leonard though!
Leonard saw that you could also buy points for 10 cents each. He calculated that the $33.8 million jet could be his for just $700,000! He therefore put together a group of investors. He then wrote a cheque and claimed the prize. PepsiCo challenged the claim and the case went to court. The judge ruled for PepsiCo. He concluded that “no reasonable person” could expect such a prize!
10. Just Add Water, Freezer Bars, Pouches and Energy American Drinks
Hawaiian Punch produces American soda in powdered sachets. Just add water, mix in the powder and you’re good to go! Experience flavours such as Berry Blue Typhoon and Polar Blast. But extremes of weather might not be your thing. So give Wild Purple a whirl for a vibrant vibe!
Don’t want to mix your drinks? Kool Aid Jammers come in handy ready to drink pouches. They include Peach Mango and caffeine-free Tropical Punch flavours. You can almost taste the Caribbean! Or cool down with ice cold American soda. Just pop a box of Soda Pops Freezer in the er, well, freezer!
Energy American drinks are incredibly popular too. Their names say it all! Sonic the Hedgehog Speed Energy Drink and PacMan Power-Up Energy Drink are names to play with! Or give yourself a lift with Monster Energy Anti Gravity! What could be better for live wires than Mountain Dew Live Wire? Charged with a rush of cherry flavour.
Fuel your imagination further! Auntie Ammie’s website lists over a hundred American drinks! And more information about any of the American pop above can be found there. There is also much more American soda awaiting your discovery on the website. Don’t forget next day mainland UK delivery is free for orders over £50.