Soft drinks are sweet, fizzy, refreshing and alcohol-free. They consist of carbonated water with added syrup made from sugar and fruit or plant extracts.
The history of soft drinks is connected to the manufacturing of the first sparkling mineral water in the 18th century. Some mineral water springs were known for producing water which was rich in minerals and naturally carbonated. The sparkling aspect of this water, like seltzer water, had long been a mystery. In the 18th century, carbon dioxide was identified as the cause of these tiny bubbles. Production of the first artificially carbonated mineral water began a short while later.
In 1780, Johan Jakob Schweppe, a German inventor, developed an efficient process for carbonating water in Geneva. For a long time he had wanted to bottle spa water with all its benefits and make it available to everyone. As a result, he produced it artificially. The Schweppe, Paul and Gosse production plant opened in 1792 in London. The first bottles were egg-shaped, ‘to retain the gas more efficiently’, and therefore could not stand upright. The company started to produce soft drinks in the early 19th century.
In 1886 in the United States, an Atlanta pharmacist prepared a new syrup which, according to him, had soothing, thirst-quenching qualities. The syrup was initially diluted in chilled water, but became even more popular when mixed with carbonated water. This drink, Coca-Cola, was initially sold in pharmacies. The prohibition of alcohol in the United States, during the years which followed, encouraged the development of sweetened, flavoured carbonated water. Today, soft drinks dominate the non-alcoholic beverage market.