A History of the World in 6 Glasses Chapter 11-Epilogue Summary & Analysis

Tom Standage

A History Of The World In 6 Glasses

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A History of the World in 6 Glasses Chapter 11-Epilogue Summary & Analysis

Section 6: Coca-Cola and the Rise America

Chapter 11 Summary

In the book’s final section, Standage addresses the only branded beverage in the book: Cocoa-Cola, and its position as emblem of America and all it stands for. He begins Chapter 11 with an account of the development of soft drinks, which was enabled by the discovery, in Manchester, of how to produce soda water—water made fizzy by the addition of carbon dioxide. Once again, the initial interest in soda water was medicinal, although it was also sold mixed with lemon juice and sugar as early as the late eighteenth century. Soda water became popular across Europe in the 1790s and several companies began to produce it, including Schweppes.

Soda water was first produced in America by Benjamin Stillman, a chemistry professor at Yale who discovered the beverage on a trip to America. He began to make batches to give as gifts to friends, but soon the demand was so high he began to make it commercially in New Haven in 1807. In 1809, Joseph Hawkins of Philadelphia invented the soda fountain, in an attempt to cash in on the association between soda water and European spas. This idea proved unpopular but the soda fountain did not.

True to its medicinal origins, soda was primarily sold in pharmacies and, as well being mixed with lemon, by the nineteenth century, was being mixed with wine, to make spritzers. From the 1830s in America, the most popular way to drink soda water was mixed with fruit flavored syrups, the production of which became increasingly industrialized. Soda water was enjoyed by people across all social classes in America and indeed Mary Gay Humphries noted in 1891 that “‘the crowning merit of soda-water, and that which fits it to be the national drink, is its democracy. The millionaire might drink champagne while the poor man drinks beer, but they both drink soda water’” (232).

Coca-Cola was invented by John Pemberton, a pharmacist from Atlanta, Georgia, in May 1886. Pemberton had a long history of making patent or “quack” medicines, which had become increasingly popular after the Civil War….

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