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Some things about soda

Whether it’s sold in a bottle, can, or poured straight from the fountain, there are few drinks more refreshing than soda. Since carbonated water was invented in the 1700s by Joseph Priestley, brands such as Coke and Pepsi have grown into beloved staples of kitchens and restaurants everywhere. And when it comes to soda, there are plenty of interesting tidbits and historical anecdotes bubbling beneath the surface — like the six facts below.

Dr. Pepper was once marketed as a warm beverage

Dr Pepper was first served around 1885 at Morrison’s Old Corner Drug Store in Waco, Texas. The drink was created by Charles Alderton in an effort to capture the fruity and syrupy smells wafting through the store. Though Dr Pepper was initially served cold at the time, the drink was briefly marketed as a warm beverage, a plan that was developed to ensure the brand’s continued popularity throughout the colder holiday months.

Hot Dr Pepper was first conceived of in 1958, when company president Wesby Parker found inspiration while visiting a bottling plant during a blizzard. The result was a new recipe developed by the company that encouraged consumers to heat Dr Pepper over a stovetop to 180 degrees and then pour it over a thin slice of lemon. The drink was marketed in ads using taglines such as “Devilishly Different” and “Winter Warmer,” and an alcoholic version containing rum, called the Schuss-Boomer, was later popularized. Hot Dr Pepper remained a beloved holiday drink into the 1970s, and though it has since faded in popularity, the beverage continues to be made each year by certain pockets of loyal fans.

Pepsi pioneered the use of 2-liter bottles

While it may seem like 2-liter soda bottles have been around forever, they were first designedby PepsiCo in 1970. The idea was the brainchildof John Sculley, a Pepsi marketing vice president at the time and the future CEO of Apple. In 1970, Pepsi was running a distant second in the soft drink market, and Sculley was tasked with designing a new bottle to compete with Coca-Cola’s iconic “contour” bottle. Instead of creating a comparably tiny single-serve bottle, Sculley created the largest bottle he could in an effort to get more of the brand’s product to Pepsi’s customers.

Sculley was so successful in this endeavor that he even sold the new bottle to Walmart, a store that had previously refused to sell soda for fear that the bottles broke too easily. While meeting with Walmart founder Sam Walton, Sculley “accidentally” dropped the plastic bottle on the floor to prove its durability, convincing Walton to carry the product.

7Up once contained mood stabilizers

While it’s somewhat common knowledge that early versions of Coca-Cola contained cocaine, it wasn’t the only soda to contain unusual and potentially harmful ingredients. In fact, 7Up’s formula used to contain prescription mood stabilizers upon its launch in 1929 — specifically, a drug known as lithium citrate, which is used in modern times to treat conditions such as bipolar disorder.

At the time of 7Up’s inception, the soda was called “Bib-Label Lithiated Lemon-Lime Soda,” which was descriptive of the product’s actual ingredients at the time, even though it doesn’t quite roll off the tongue. Though the product’s name was later shortened to 7Up in 1936, it wasn’t until 1948 that lithium citrate was deemed potentially harmful and removed from the recipe after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration outlawed the use of the chemical in sodas.

It’s soda, pop, or even Coke, depending on where you are

Americans are passionate about the words they use to refer to their soft drinks, and different U.S. regions have their own monikers for the sugary beverages. On the West Coast, in New England, and in pockets of the Midwest, you’re more likely to hear the drink referred to as “soda.” But throughout the majority of the rest of the Midwest, as well as the Pacific Northwest, “pop” is a more commonly usedterm. Things get confusing in the South, as Southerners use the word “coke” to refer to all soft drinks in general, even if they have nothing to do with the Coca-Cola brand. This may have something to do with the fact that “coke” stems from Coca-Cola having been founded in Atlanta, with Southerners proving loyal to their local brand.

There are a few hyper-regional terms for these drinks, too. Some 6% of Americans — the majority of whom can be found in Louisiana and North Carolina — use the phrase “soft drink” even in a casual context. In parts of the Deep South, “cocola” is more commonplace, whereas older Americans in the Boston area call the drinks “tonic.”

A yellow cap means that the Coke is kosher for Passover

While most plastic bottles of Coca-Cola boast a red cap that matches their usual color scheme, in the spring you may notice bottles with yellow caps appearing on shelves. That yellow cap signifies that the drink is kosher for the Jewish holiday of Passover. Prior to 1935, Coke wasn’t kosher at all, but that year the company swapped out beef-tallow glycerin for a vegetable counterpart that made the drinks both kosher and vegan. In 1980, however, Coke began using high fructose corn syrup instead of cane sugar, making the beverage non-kosher for Passover according to Jewish dietary laws. In order to remedy the situation, Coca-Cola now produces a special yellow-capped bottle each year that signifies the high fructose corn syrup has been swapped out for a sucrose sugar substitute, thus making this version of Coke kosher for Passover.You

Coca-Cola ads helped popularize the modern-day likeness of Santa Claus

Coke has a surprising connection to Santa Claus. In 1931, Coca-Cola hired illustrator Haddon Sundblom to paint Santa Claus for a series of holiday advertisements. Using friend and retired salesman Lou Prentiss as a model, Sundblom produced a version of Santa that depicted the jolly, bearded man with rosy cheeks that we all recognize today. Sundblom would continue painting Santa for Coke’s advertisements until 1964.

While the character of Santa Claus predated Coke, of course, he had been depicted in a variety of ways, ranging from tall and thin to looking like an elf. An 1862 drawing of Santa Claus by Thomas Nast for Harper’s Weeklyportrayed Santa as a tiny figure compared to the booming presence he is today, though Nast would also be the first to draw Santa wearing a red jacket, and some other Nast drawings showed a version of Santa that resembles the jolly man we now know. Yet all in all, it wasn’t until Coca-Cola debuted its holiday advertisements that Americans began to fully associate Santa Claus with the large, jovial figure we know him as today.

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