Beverage Ingredients: The emergence of carbonated soft drinks (Part 1)

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Beverage Ingredients: The emergence of carbonated soft drinks (Part 1)

A soft drink (also known as soda) contains the beverage ingredients of carbonated water, a sweetener and an artificial or natural flavouring. The sweetener used in a soft drink can be made from sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, fruit juice, sugar substitutes, or a combination of these. Soft drink beverage solutions can be further enhanced by manufacturers through the addition of caffeine, colourings, preservatives and other ingredients. With soft drinks being sold from vending machines and being dispensed into a cup from taps at movie theatres and bars, they have become a popular beverage solution for dispensing machines alongside alcohol.

The concept of a soft-drink originated with the development of fruit-flavoured beverage solutions such as ‘water imperial’, a lemon flavoured drink with cream of tartar that was widely drunk in Tudor England. Lemonade was another type of soft drink, made of water and lemon juice sweetened with honey. However, these drinks were created before the ability to artificially replicate carbonated mineral water, and were there made without it.

In the late 18th century, thanks to Englishman Joseph Priestley, it became possible to artificially create carbonated water. He discovered this by suspending a bowl of distilled water above a beer vat at a local brewery in Leeds, England, which he afterwards found to have a pleasant taste. In 1772, Priestley published a paper where he details his full process of creating carbonated water, in which he describes dripping sulfuric acid onto chalk to produce carbon dioxide gas, and encouraging the gas to dissolve into a distilled bowl of water. His invention created the foundation for soft drinks to develop into what they are today. Priestley’s process of creating carbonated water was refined by other scientists shortly after, leading to many attempting to sell carbonated water to the general public, such as Thomas Henry and most notably Johann Jacob Schweppe, the founder of the Schweppes Company.

By the early 19th century, flavouring was combined with carbonated water. At the time, drinking mineral water was considered to be a healthy practice, and it could usually be bought from a pharmacy. Pharmacists began adding birch bark, dandelion, sarsaparilla, fruit extracts and other substances for improved taste. As more flavouring and sweeteners were added to these carbonated beverage solutions, they slowly evolved into the soft drinks that we have today that use carbonated water as a beverage base.

Gat Foods is a leading supplier of beverage ingredients, and their fruit bases and compounds are perfect for creating carbonated soft drinks.