7 Unexpected Stories Behind Your Favorite Fizzy Drinks And How They Got Their Names

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Soft drinks, sodas, cokes, pop– whatever you call them, they are ubiquitous. It would be odd to go to a restaurant that does not serve them. Many of these drinks did not start as beverages you would want with a meal. In the 19th century, they were medicine using cutting edge techniques to give people energy and a better disposition. They could cure everything from indigestion to morphine addiction and their names gave buyers an idea of what they would cure. In fact, the stories behind how these beverages began may change the way you think of your favorite fizzy drink.


7 Unexpected Stories Behind Your Favorite Fizzy Drinks And How They Got Their Names:

1. Coke

Coca-Cola was originally a medical drink created by John Pemberton while searching for a way to combat morphine addiction. Pemberton created the drink at his pharmacy using Bordeaux wine, and the ingredients that give Coca-Cola its name: the coca leaf and kola bean. To avoid alcohol regulations, Pemberton’s substituted the wine for carbonated water and sugar syrup. The drink made a lot of people feel better, mostly because of the caffeine found in the kola bean and cocaine derived from the coca leaf. Coke didn’t become cocaine free until the 1920s when public opinion turned against the widely abused narcotic. Thereafter, Coke abandoned it’s medicinal claims and became the soda of choice in America.

2. Sprite

Sprite was first made in 1959, known then as Fanta Klare Citrone, meaning “Clear Lemon Fanta.” In 1961, the Coca-Cola Company bought the drink and renamed it “Sprite” to compete with 7-Up.


3. Dr Pepper

Dr Pepper was first made by pharmacist Charles C. Alderton in Waco, Texas in the 1880s and was first sold on December 1, 1885, preceding Coca-cola by one year. Customers originally ordered it as a “Waco.” Alderton later gave the formula to the pharmacy owner Wade Morrison who renamed the drink Dr Pepper. By 1904, the drink was sold nationally as a soda with 23 secret ingredients. Legend holds that the two halves of the formula are held at two separate banks in Dallas.


4. Mountain Dew

Mountain Dew was first made in the 1930s by Tennessee bottlers Barney and Ally Hartman. The brothers developed the drink as a mixer for whiskey as they had trouble getting their favorite mixers into the Tennessee hills. The name “Mountain Dew” is Scotch/Irish slang for moonshine. In 1964, the drink was bought by Pepsico.


5. Pepsi

Like Coca-Cola, Pepsi began as a medicine sold exclusively from pharmacies. The drink was introduced in 1891 and originally called “Brad’s Drink”, taking its name after its creator Caleb Bradham. Bradham added sugar and vanilla to his drink the outpace his competitors. In 1989, he rebranded the drink “Pepsi-Cola” named after dyspepsia, or indigestion, and the kola nuts in the recipe. In 1961, the company cut out “cola,” to simply become Pepsi.


7. Root Beer

Root Beer is exactly what it sounds like: a beverage brewed using the root of the sassafras. It is the oldest beverage on this list, originally brewed by Native Americans for medicinal purposes. Europeans began adapting the beverage in the 16th century but the drink we know today was didn’t show up until Charles Elmer Hires created “root tea” in 1875. He later changed the name to market the drink, but abstained from making it alcoholic. One of Hire’s early competitor was Barq’s, which began in 1898. During prohibition, two more root beer companies began: IBC and A&W, who sold their drinks in large frosty mugs.

Dusty Sullivan
A southern fella whose roots are in The Natural State and heart is in the outdoors

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