72 pages • 2 hours readTom Standage
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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.
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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.
By Tom Standage