The History of Carbonation


Whether it's called pop, soda, water "with gas," soft drinks, bubblies, fizzies, cola, mineral water or seltzer, man-made carbonated water drinks have been produced since the 18th century. The addition of carbon dioxide to water, which occurs naturally in water aquifers under pressure, is now performed worldwide in a mass-production process with billions of dollars of marketing and sales revenues. Whether bottled, canned or fizzling out of a fountain machine, carbonated drinks have a long and bubbling history that continues to pop.

Naturally-Occurring Carbonation

  • Carbonation, which is created by the addition of carbon dioxide to water, is formed naturally when excess carbon dioxide exists in pressured aquifers. All water has trace amounts of carbon dioxide, which is colorless and flavorless.

Invention of Man-Made Carbonation

  • Produced by Joseph Priestly, man-made carbonated water first appeared in 1767. In 1769, Tobern Bergman, who was a Swedish chemist, created a process for mass production of carbonated water by combining chalk and sulphuric acid.

Mass-Production of Carbonation

  • In 1783, a young watchmaker and amateur scientist named Jacob Schweppes perfected the mass-production process for carbonating mineral water, which led to the creation of the Geneva-based Schweppes Company. The Schweppes Company and Jacob relocated to London, England, in 1790. With the invention of mass-produced carbonated mineral water, soon there was a need for flavorings, which led to the soda fountain, which was invented by the American Samuel Fahnestock in 1819.

Bottles and Cans

  • Coca Cola came on the market in 1886 as a syrup mixed with carbonated water. The invention of the cork in 1892 by William Painter, coupled with the invention of glass-blown bottles by Michael J. Owens in 1899, led to mass-produced carbonated drinks that did not lose their carbonation. Cliquot Club ginger ale was the first beverage to be carbonated in a can, in 1938. Pepsi followed soon after with canned soda in 1948, and Dr. Pepper and Vernors Ginger Ale followed suit in 1955. By the turn of the 20th century, carbonated drinks were one of the western consumer's top choices in beverages. In the 1950s, carbonated drinks were marketed for their abilities to aid in digestion but soon became synonymous with junk food. Pepsi was the first company to use multi-packs of cans, in packs of 12, in 1972.

The 21st Century and Carbonation

  • In the 21st century, the carbonated beverage industry began marketing carbonated drinks as energy boosters. Teas and juices have also become carbonated as part of the new carbonated drink market.

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