The Beginning of the Soft Drinks Industry

The Beginning of the Soft Drinks Industry

You might think that soft drinks are a very 20th century invention but they actually appeared in the 17th century. The first soft drink was a fairly basic affair and consisted of water, lemon juice and honey. As early as 1676, the company ‘Compagnie de Limonadiers’ began operating in Paris and vendors would carry tanks on their backs to dispense cups of lemonade from.

Modern carbonated drinks have their roots in various attempts during the 17th century to create an imitation of the naturally bubbly water found in springs. They were believed to hold great therapeutic values. Physicians of the time referred to the importance of ‘aerated’ water and the gas carbon dioxidecontent.

One of the founders of modern chemistry was Robert Boyle. He published ‘Short Memoirs for the Natural Experimental History of Mineral Waters’ in 1685. The writing featured information on mineral springs, the chemical properties of water and its effect on the body. He also examined the possibility of imitating the natural benefits and medicinal value of water through other chemicals and artificial methods.

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During the 1700s, many papers were published, and experiments documented from scientists and philosophers of the time trying to produce a carbonated, healthy beverage. These included David Macbride, Stephen Hales, Henry Cavendish and Joseph Black.

It was, in fact an Englishman, Joseph Priestley who earned the title of ‘father of the soft drinks industry’. He conducted experiments using gas from the fermenting vats in a brewery. He was able to demonstrate an apparatus to carbonate water in 1772 at the London College of Physicians. His device showed that a pump could better force fixed air into the water. Keep on top of your own business’ soft drinks needs with Post Mix Equipment from

Another Englishman, apothecary Thomas Henry from Manchester is said to be the first to produce carbonated water. He made it in 12-gallon barrels using equipment based on Priestley’s pump design. A Swiss jeweller named Jacob Schweppe had read the work of Priestley and created a similar device. He was successfully selling carbonated artificial spring water by 1794 to friends in Geneva. He later set up business in London.

During the first couple of decades of the 19th century, production methods improved, and a greater output could be achieved. Bottled water became increasingly popular with flavours being added like lemon and ginger. By 1886 in Atlanta, Georgia, a pharmacist called John Pemberton had invented a cola drink called Coca-Cola.

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CO2 and carbonation

It is Carbon dioxide that gives the water its bubbly, sparkly and tangy taste. It also prevents spoilage from occurring. When it is supplied to a manufacturer, it comes in either a solid form (dry ice) or a liquid form stored under compression (1,200lbs per square inch). The process of carbonation of either the water or the beverage mix is carried out by chilling the fluid and running it over layers of thin plates, in an enclosed space subjected to high-pressure carbon dioxide. Water will absorb more gas the higher the pressure of gas and the lower the temperature.


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