The term "soda pop" was coined in 1861 from the popping sound of escaping gas as a soda bottle was opened.
A soft drink is a nonalcoholic beverage consisting primarily of carbonated (with carbon dioxide gas added) water, sweetener, and flavorings. A soft drink may be a cola, ginger ale, ginger beer, root beer, or a fruit-flavored beverage. It is sold in bottles and cans or dispensed by a soda fountain into a glass. The name "soft drink" has been adopted to distinguish it from "hard drinks," or alcoholic beverages.
Soft drinks account for one of every four beverages consumed in the United States. According to the National Soft Drink Association, Americans drink an average of fifty-four gallons of soft drinks per person a year.
The roots of soft drinks can be traced to ancient times. About two thousand years ago, Greeks and Romans recognized the medicinal value of mineral water and bathed in it for relaxation, a practice that continues today. Mineral water is spring water containing mineral salts and gases. One of the gases is carbon dioxide, later an important ingredient in soft drinks.
Starting around the 1300s, Europeans bathed in natural springs for their curative benefits. Some of the springs produced bubbles, which scientists concluded was due to the carbon dioxide gas dissolved in them. The American Indians were using "medicinal waters" long before the first colonists arrived in the United States.
Manmade mineral water
In 1767, British chemist Joseph Priestley (1733–1804) made the first carbonated water by adding water to carbon dioxide gas from fermented beer. Shortly after, Swedish chemist Torbern Bergman (1735–1784) invented a device that produced large quantities of mineral water from chalk. By the late 1700s, Europeans and Americans were drinking the sparkling mineral water for their health. In 1798, the term "soda water" was first used to refer to the manmade mineral water. In the United States, the first manmade soda water was patented in 1809. It consisted of water and sodium bicarbonate mixed with acid to produce gas bubbles.
Pharmacists in the United States and Europe, who sold most of the soda water, experimented with many ingredients in the hope of finding new remedies. These included dandelion, birch bark, sarsaparilla roots, and raspberry and strawberry leaves. Some pharmacists used fruit extracts of lemons and oranges, while those who were also chemists invented artificial colors and flavors. Before long, people were buying soda water just for its refreshing taste. Starting in the early 1800s, drug store soda fountains became popular gathering places for the local people. The market expanded in the 1830s when soda water was first sold in glass bottles. In 1850, the invention of a filling and corking machine solved the problem of capping the gaseous bottles. Unlike the Crown Soda Machine (see sidebar on page 249), the device called for a two-step filling, first with syrup, and then with carbonated water.
Caffeinated soda water
In 1886, a Georgia pharmacist, John Pemberton (1831–1888), created what would become the world's most famous drink, Coca-Cola™. Originally advertised as a medicinal beverage, his recipe included, among other ingredients, the extracts of the known stimulants coca leaves and cola nuts. In 1898, Caleb Bradham (1867–1934) of North Carolina invented Pepsi-Cola, named after cola nuts and pepsin, an acid that aids in digestion. However, Bradham did not advertise his product as a curative beverage. By the early twentieth century, like Bradham, most cola companies advertised their products not as medicines but as refreshments.
The rapid popularity of the newly invented automobiles in the early 1900s contributed to the growth of the soft drink industry. Vending machines, dispensing soft drinks in cups, became regular fixtures at the service stations starting in the early 1920s. In the mid-1960s, for the first time, Coca-Cola and Pepsi-Cola were sold in all-aluminum cans, equipped with pull-ring tabs and later with stay-on tabs (created in 1974). In 1970, plastic bottles were used for soft drinks. Although another type of plastic called PET (polyethylene terephthalate) was invented in 1973, the soft drink industry did not use it in large quantities until 1991.
Soft drink companies are constantly on the lookout for consumer preferences. In the 1950s, after the sales of Pepsi-Cola rose when its sugar content was reduced, the first no-cal (calorie) beverages using the artificial sweetener saccharin were introduced. Since then, other new products have been introduced. They include diet, caffeine-free, low-sodium, and preservative-free drinks. Clear colas, as well as soft drinks with a lemon twist, have also been developed.
A soft drink is made up of about 94 percent carbonated water. Carbon dioxide adds that special sparkle and bite to the beverage. It also acts as a mild preservative. Carbon dioxide is an inactive (does not react with other substances), colorless, and odorless natural gas. It is nonpoisonous, relatively inexpensive, and easy to liquefy (to cause to become liquid). The hissing sound and small bubbles resulting from the opening of a soft drink container are caused by the escape of carbon dioxide when pressure in the can is released.
Sugar, the second main ingredient, makes up 7 to 14 percent of a regular (nondiet) soft drink. Used in either dry or liquid form, sugar adds sweetness and body to the beverage, increasing the mouthfeel (physical sensation of food in the mouth), an important part of consumer enjoyment of a soft drink. Sucrose (made from sugar cane or sugar beets), high fructose corn syrup (made from cornstarch), or a combination of both sweeteners may be used.
Diet, or sugar-free, soft drinks use sugar substitutes, also called "diet" or "low-calorie" sweeteners. They include aspartame, saccharin, sucralose, and acesulfame-K (acesulfame potassium). A soft drink may use one sugar substitute or a combination of sugar substitutes.
ONE MAN'S PRACTICAL INVENTIONS
Two inventions during the early years of the soft drink industry helped perfect the bottling of carbonated beverages for home use. In 1892, William Painter (1838–1906) invented the Crown Cork Cap, a metal cap with corrugated edges that gripped the neck of the bottle. Inside the cap was a thin piece of cork and a special paper that sealed the bottle and prevented the soft drink from coming in contact with the metal cap. Previously, the numerous bottle caps that had been introduced were not tight enough so that the soft drinks leaked or the carbon dioxide gas escaped from the bottle. Also, bottled drinks tended to change in taste and color after coming in contact with the metal caps.
In 1898, Painter invented the Crown Soda Machine, which filled and capped bottles at the same time. The machine consisted of a carbonated water line and a syrup line that fed the ingredients into one opening, so that the beverage came out of the machine already mixed. A bottle was filled, and then a press (a machine that uses pressure) on which a Crown Cork Cap had been placed crimped the cap over the bottle top, sealing it tightly. The first machine to incorporate the ingredients in a single step, Painter's invention is the ancestor of today's automated machines for bottling soft drinks.
Acids are added to soft drinks to give them a pleasant sharpness and to quench the thirst by stimulating saliva flow. They also act as a preservative. The most commonly used acids are citric acid, which gives a lemony flavor, and phosphoric acid. Other acids, such as malic acid or tartaric acid, may also be used.
Flavoring is a very important ingredient in soft drinks. Natural flavors come from natural extracts and oils, as well as spices. For example, an orange-flavored soft drink typically contains an orange extract. Root beer and ginger ale use flavors made from spices and herbs. Some soft drinks may use artificial, or manmade, flavorings.
Small amounts of other ingredients are added to soft drinks. Caffeine, one of the ingredients added to cola- and pepper-type soft drinks first introduced in the 1800s, is still used to enhance the flavorings used. Emulsions, consisting of water and such substances as gums and pectins, add to the "eye appeal" by acting as clouding agents. In beverages, such as cream soda, ginger beer, and root beer, saponin is added to produce a foam. Color used in soft drinks may come from natural or artificial color or a combination of both. Preservatives, including the antioxidants BHA and ascorbic acid, are used to maintain the taste, color, and flavor of the beverages.
The Manufacturing Process
Most soft drinks are generally produced at local bottling and canning companies. A soft drink manufacturer grants a company or companies a franchise (the authorization to sell his or her products in a certain area). That franchise company in turn grants a license (an official permission) to a bottling or canning company to mix the soft drink strictly following the secret formula and manufacturing procedures.
Clarifying the water
1 A regular soft drink contains about 90 percent water, while a diet soft drink can have as much as 99 percent water. Impurities, such as suspended particles, organic matter (the remains of living things), and bacteria may diminish the quality of the taste and color of the soft drink. Impurities are removed through a series of coagulation, filtration, and chlorination processes.
During coagulation, a gelatinous precipitate, or floc (ferric sulphate or aluminum sulphate), is mixed into the water. The floc absorbs the tiny impurities, forming a larger mass that will then be trapped by filters. Lime is added to reach the desired pH, or acidity, of the water.
Filtering, sterilizing, and dechlorinating the water
2 The clarified water is poured through a sand filter to remove the particles of floc. First, the water passes through a layer of sand and then layers of fine and coarse gravel to trap the particles.
3 Bacteria and organic matter that might spoil the water's taste or color have to be destroyed. This is done by pumping the water into a storage tank in which a small amount of free chlorine is added. The chlorinated water is kept in the tank until the water is completely purified.
4 An activated carbon filter removes the chlorine and other remaining organic matter. (Activated carbon is carbon in the form of a powder or granules that purifies liquids by collecting impurities on its surface.) Then, a vacuum pump removes all the air from the water before it moves to a dosing station.
Mixing the ingredients
5 The dissolved sugar and flavors are pumped into a dosing station in a predetermined sequence. They are transported to batch tanks where they are carefully mixed to form a syrup. The syrup may be sterilized while in the tanks using ultraviolet radiation. Flash pasteurization may also be used to kill any microorganism in the syrup. This involves quickly heating and cooling the syrup. Fruit-based syrups generally must be pasteurized.
6 The water and syrup are carefully blended by proportioners, machines that control the amounts and flow rates of the two ingredients. To keep air from entering the mixture, carbon dioxide is used for pressure.
Carbonating the soft drink
7 Carbonation (the addition of carbon dioxide gas) is generally performed when the product is completed, although it may be done at an earlier stage. The temperature of the soft drink has to be controlled, so that it is not too cold, causing the carbon dioxide to dissolve in it when added.
The amount of carbon dioxide pressure added depends on the type of soft drink. For example, fruit drinks require less carbonation than mixer drinks, such as tonics, which are intended to be diluted with other liquids.
Filling and packaging
8 The finished beverage is poured into bottles or cans and immediately sealed with pressure-resistant closures. Closures used may be tinplate or steel crowns with corrugated (having parallel grooves and ridges) edges, twists-off caps, or pull-tabs.
9 Soft drinks are generally cooled during manufacture. Before labeling, the soft drinks are brought to room temperature to prevent condensation from ruining the labels. (Water vapor in the air will condense, or change to liquid, if it comes in contact with the cold containers.) This is done by spraying the containers with warm water and drying them. Labels, containing information about brand name, ingredients, shelf life, and safe use of the product, are then attached to the bottles. Most labels are made of paper, although some are made of plastic film. Cans are usually preprinted with product information before being filled.
10 Finally, the soft drinks are packed into cartons or trays, which are then loaded into pallets or crates to be shipped to distributors.
Soft drink manufacturers follow strict water quality standards for allowable dissolved solids, chlorides, sulfates, iron, and aluminum, as well as water alkalinity. The use of clean water ensures that the finished products will have a consistent taste, flavor, and color. This means that a product sold in one area tastes and looks identical to the same product sold in another location. Effective removal of impure particles from the water facilitates the production process because blockage due to impurities is eliminated. Testing for the presence of microorganisms is done regularly.
The National Soft Drink Association and other agencies set standards for regulating the quality of all ingredients. Monitoring the quality of sugar is especially important. To prevent spoilage, sugar has to be carefully handled in dry, clean environments.
Raw materials are inspected as they arrive at the factory and before they are mixed with other ingredients because preservatives may not kill all bacteria. All tanks, machines, and containers are thoroughly sterilized. Cans that are made of aluminum alloy (a mixture of aluminum and another metal) or tin-coated low-carbon steel are lacquered (coated with a baked-on finish) internally to seal the metal and prevent corrosion when it comes in contact with the beverage.
Manufacturers also recommend specific storage conditions to retailers to ensure that soft drinks do not spoil. The shelf life of soft drinks is about one year.
Nearly 450 different beverages are manufactured in the United States. Companies constantly develop new flavors. Most diet soft drinks use the sweetener aspartame, first approved for soft drinks in 1983 by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Manufacturers are always experimenting with new sweeteners that are several times sweeter than sugar. The sugar substitutes acesulfame-K and sucralose, approved for use in soft drinks in 1998, are used alone or combined with other sweeteners.
THE FRANCHISE SYSTEM
Asa Candler (1851–1929), who bought the Coca-Cola recipe and brand name from its inventor, John Pemberton, developed the franchise system. Candler realized that water—the soft drink's main ingredient—being heavy, would be too costly to ship. Instead of bottling his product in Atlanta, Georgia, Candler granted franchises (authorization given by a manufacturer to a company or companies to sell his or her products in a certain area) to bottlers all over the country, authorizing them to mix the soft drink in their areas, adding carbonated water to his Coca-Cola syrup.
Trends in the soft drink industry continue to consider public health, safety, and the environment. New methods of water purification and sterilization will improve production and minimize the need for preservatives in soft drinks. On July 5, 2002, the FDA approved a new sugar substitute, neotame, for use in certain food products, including soft drinks. Depending on its use in food, neotame is 7,000 to 13,000 times sweeter than sugar.
- activated charcoal:
- Carbon in powder or granular form which can be used as a filter by collecting impurities on its surface.
- The stimulant found in coffee, tea, cocoa, and the cola nuts used in soft drinks.
- carbonated water:
- A bubbly water that is filled with carbon dioxide gas under pressure used to make soft drinks.
- carbon dioxide:
- A natural gas that is dissolved in water to make carbonated water.
- A mixture of liquids that do not dissolve in each other; for example, oil and water.
- A concentrated form of the essential parts of a flavoring, food, or other substance.
- flash pasteurization:
- The quick heating and cooling of a substance to kill harmful microorganisms.
- Authorization given by a manufacturer to a company or companies to sell his or her products in a certain area.
- A sticky substance found in some trees and plants.
- Physical sensation of food in the mouth.
- A substance found in the rind of citrus and other fruits.
- A measure of the acidity of a liquid or solution.
- polyethylene terephthalate (PET):
- A type of plastic used for packaging food and nonfood products. It is lightweight, inexpensive, break-resistant, and recyclable.
- A plant substance that forms a foam and is used in such soft drinks as root beer.
- shelf life:
- The length of time a product may be stored before it starts losing its freshness.
- The destruction of living microorganisms by using a substance, such as chlorine, or by heating.
For More Information
Tchudi, Stephen N. Soda Poppery: The History of Soft Drinks in America. New York, NY: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1986.
Henkel, John. "Sugar Substitutes: Americans Opt for Sweetness and Lite." FDAConsumer. (November-December 1999): pp. 12–15.
"100 Years of Production Innovation." Beverage World. (January 1998): pp. 136–140.
"The Crown Cork Cap and Crown Soda Machine 1892 and 1898." The AmericanSociety of Mechanical Engineers.http://www.asme.org/history/brochures/h174.pdf (accessed on July 22, 2002).
Jacobson, Michael F. "Liquid Candy: How Soft Drinks Are Harming Americans' Health." Center for Science in the Public Interest.http://www.cspinet.org/sodapop/liquid_candy.htm (accessed on July 22, 2002).
"What's in Soft Drinks?" National Soft Drink Association.http://www.nsda.org/softdrinks/History/whatsin.html (accessed July 22, 2002).
Soft drinks are enormously popular beverages consisting primarily of carbonated water, sugar, and flavorings. Nearly 200 nations enjoy the sweet, sparkling soda with an annual consumption of more than 34 billion gallons. Soft drinks rank as America's favorite beverage segment, representing 25% of the total beverage market. In the early 1990s per capita consumption of soft drinks in the U.S. was 49 gallons, 15 gallons more than the next most popular beverage, water.
The roots of soft drinks extend to ancient times. Two thousand years ago Greeks and Romans recognized the medicinal value of mineral water and bathed in it for relaxation, a practice that continues to the present. In the late 1700s Europeans and Americans began drinking the sparkling mineral water for its reputed therapeutic benefits. The first imitation mineral water in the U.S. was patented in 1809. It was called "soda water" and consisted of water and sodium bicarbonate mixed with acid to add effervescence. Pharmacists in America and Europe experimented with myriad ingredients in the hope of finding new remedies for various ailments. Already the flavored soda waters were hailed as brain tonics for curing headaches, hangovers, and nervous afflictions.
Pharmacies equipped with "soda fountains" featuring the medicinal soda water soon developed into regular meeting places for local populations. Flavored soda water gained popularity not only for medicinal benefits but for the refreshing taste as well. The market expanded in the 1830s when soda water was first sold in glass bottles. Filling and capping the gaseous liquid in containers was a difficult process until 1850, when a manual filling and corking machine was successfully designed. The term "soda pop" originated in the 1860s from the popping sound of escaping gas as a soda bottle was opened.
New soda flavors constantly appeared on the market. Some of the more popular flavors were ginger ale, sarsaparilla, root beer, lemon, and other fruit flavors. In the early 1880s pharmacists experimented with powerful stimulants to add to soda water, including cola nuts and coca leaves. They were inspired by Bolivian Indian workers who chewed coca leaves to ward off fatigue and by West African workers who chewed cola nuts as a stimulant. In 1886 an Atlanta pharmacist, John Pemberton, took the fateful step of combining coca with cola, thus creating what would become the world's most famous drink, "Coca-Cola". The beverage was advertised as refreshing as well as therapeutic: "French Wine Cola—Ideal Nerve and Tonic Stimulant." A few years later another pharmacist, Caleb Bradham, created "Pepsi-Cola" in North Carolina. Although the name was a derivation of pepsin, an acid that aids digestion, Pepsi did not advertise the beverage as having therapeutic benefits. By the early 20th century, most cola companies focused their advertising on the refreshing aspects of their drinks.
As flavored carbonated beverages gained popularity, manufacturers struggled to find an appropriate name for the drinks. Some suggested "marble water," "syrup water," and "aerated water." The most appealing name, however, was "soft drink," adapted in the hopes that soft drinks would ultimately supplant the "hard liquor" market. Although the idea never stuck, the term soft drink did.
Until the 1890s soft drinks were produced manually, from blowing bottles individually to filling and packaging. During the following two decades automated machinery greatly increased the productivity of soft drink plants. Probably the most important development in bottling technology occurred with the invention of the "crown cap" in 1892, which successfully contained the carbon dioxide gas in glass bottles. The crown cap design endured for 70 years.
The advent of motor vehicles spawned further growth in the soft drink industry. Vending machines, serving soft drinks in cups, became regular fixtures at service stations across the country. In the late 1950s aluminum beverage cans were introduced, equipped with convenient pull-ring tabs and later with stay-on tabs. Light-weight and break-resistant plastic bottles came into use in the 1970s, though it was not until 1991 that the soft drink industry used plastic PET (polyethylene terephthalate) on a wide scale.
Soft drink manufacturers have been quick to respond to consumer preferences. In 1962 diet colas were introduced in response to the fashion of thinness for women. In the 1980s the growing health consciousness of the country led to the creation of caffeine-free and low-sodium soft drinks. The 1990s ushered in clear colas that were colorless, caffeine-free, and preservative-free.
Carbonated water constitutes up to 94% of a soft drink. Carbon dioxide adds that special sparkle and bite to the beverage and also acts as a mild preservative. Carbon dioxide is an uniquely suitable gas for soft drinks because it is inert, non-toxic, and relatively inexpensive and easy to liquefy.
The second main ingredient is sugar, which makes up 7-12% of a soft drink. Used in either dry or liquid form, sugar adds sweetness and body to the beverage, enhancing the "mouth-feel," an important component for consumer enjoyment of a soft drink. Sugar also balances flavors and acids.
Sugar-free soft drinks stemmed from a sugar scarcity during World War II. Soft drink manufacturers turned to high-intensity sweeteners, mainly saccharin, which was phased out in the 1970s when it was declared a potential carcinogen. Other sugar substitutes were introduced more successfully, notably aspartame, or Nutra-Sweet, which was widely used throughout the 1980s and 1990s for diet soft drinks. Because some high-intensity sweeteners do not provide the desired mouth-feel and aftertaste of sugar, they often are combined with sugar and other sweeteners and flavors to improve the beverage.
The overall flavor of a soft drink depends on an intricate balance of sweetness, tartness, and acidity (pH). Acids add a sharpness to the background taste and enhance the thirst-quenching experience by stimulating saliva flow. The most common acid in soft drinks is citric acid, which has a lemony flavor. Acids also reduce pH levels, mildly preserving the beverage.
Very small quantities of other additives enhance taste, mouth-feel, aroma, and appearance of the beverage. There is an endless range of flavorings; they may be natural, natural identical (chemically synthesized imitations), or artificial (chemically unrelated to natural flavors). Emulsions are added to soft drinks primarily to enhance "eye appeal" by serving as clouding agents. Emulsions are mixtures of liquids that are generally incompatible. They consist of water-based elements, such as gums, pectins, and preservatives; and oil-based liquids, such as flavors, colors, and weighing agents. Saponins enhance the foamy head of certain soft drinks, like cream soda and ginger beer.
To impede the growth of microorganisms and prevent deterioration, preservatives are added to soft drinks. Anti-oxidants, such as BHA and ascorbic acid, maintain color and flavor. Beginning in the 1980s, soft drink manufacturers opted for natural additives in response to increasing health concerns of the public.
Most soft drinks are made at local bottling and canning companies. Brand name franchise companies grant licenses to bottlers to mix the soft drinks in strict accordance to their secret formulas and their required manufacturing procedures.
Clarifying the water
- 1 The quality of water is crucial to the success of a soft drink. Impurities, such as suspended particles, organic matter, and bacteria, may degrade taste and color. They are generally removed through the traditional process of a series of coagulation, filtration, and chlorination. Coagulation involves mixing a gelatinous precipitate, or floc (ferric sulphate or aluminum sulphate), into the water. The floc absorbs suspended particles, making them larger and more easily trapped by filters. During the clarification process, alkalinity must be adjusted with an addition of lime to reach the desired pH level.
Filtering, sterilizing, and dechlorinating the water
- 2 The clarified water is poured through a sand filter to remove fine particles of floc. The water passes through a layer of sand and courser beds of gravel to capture the particles.
- 3 Sterilization is necessary to destroy bacteria and organic compounds that might spoil the water's taste or color. The water is pumped into a storage tank and is dosed with a small amount of free chlorine. The chlorinated water remains in the storage tank for about two hours until the reaction is complete.
- 4 Next, an activated carbon filter dechlorinates the water and removes residual organic matter, much like the sand filter. A vacuum pump de-aerates the water before it passes into a dosing station.
Mixing the ingredients
- 5 The dissolved sugar and flavor concentrates are pumped into the dosing station in a predetermined sequence according to their compatibility. The ingredients are conveyed into batch tanks where they are carefully mixed; too much agitation can cause unwanted aeration. The syrup may be sterilized while in the tanks, using ultraviolet radiation or flash pasteurization, which involves quickly heating and cooling the mixture. Fruit based syrups generally must be pasteurized.
- 6 The water and syrup are carefully combined by sophisticated machines, called proportioners, which regulate the flow rates and ratios of the liquids. The vessels are pressurized with carbon dioxide to prevent aeration of the mixture.
Carbonating the beverage
- 7 Carbonation is generally added to the finished product, though it may be mixed into the water at an earlier stage. The temperature of the liquid must be carefully controlled since carbon dioxide solubility increases as the liquid temperature decreases. Many carbonators are equipped with their own cooling systems. The amount of carbon dioxide pressure used depends on the type of soft drink. For instance, fruit drinks require far less carbonation than mixer drinks, such as tonics, which are meant to be diluted with other liquids. The beverage is slightly over-pressured with carbon dioxide to facilitate the movement into storage tanks and ultimately to the filler machine.
Filling and packaging
- 8 The finished product is transferred into bottles or cans at extremely high flow rates. The containers are immediately sealed with pressure-resistant closures, either tinplate or steel crowns with corrugated edges, twist offs, or pull tabs.
- 9 Because soft drinks are generally cooled during the manufacturing process, they must be brought to room temperature before labeling to prevent condensation from ruining the labels. This is usually achieved by spraying the containers with warm water and drying them. Labels are then affixed to bottles to provide information about the brand, ingredients, shelf life, and safe use of the product. Most labels are made of paper though some are made of a plastic film. Cans are generally pre-printed with product information before the filling stage.
- 10 Finally, containers are packed into cartons or trays which are then shipped in larger pallets or crates to distributors.
Soft drink manufacturers adhere to strict water quality standards for allowable dissolved solids, alkalinity, chlorides, sulfates, iron, and aluminum. Not only is it in the interest of public health, but clean water also facilitates the production process and maintains consistency in flavor, color, and body. Microbiological and other testing occur regularly. The National Soft Drink Association and other agencies set standards for regulating the quality of sugar and other ingredients. If soft drinks are produced with low-quality sugar, particles in the beverage will spoil it, creating floc. To prevent such spoilage, sugar must be carefully handled in dry, sanitized environments.
It is crucial for soft drink manufacturers to inspect raw materials before they are mixed with other ingredients, because preservatives may not kill all bacteria. All tanks, pumps, and containers are thoroughly sterilized and continuously monitored. Cans, made of aluminum alloy or tin-coated low-carbon steel, are lacquered internally to seal the metal and prevent corrosion from contact with the beverage. Soft drink manufacturers also recommend specific storage conditions to retailers to insure that the beverages do not spoil. The shelf life of soft drinks is generally at least one year.
The $27 billion dollar soft drink industry generated about 110 billion containers each year in the early 1990s. About half of soft drink containers were aluminum cans and the other half, about 35 billion, were PET plastic bottles. Nearly 60% of all soft drink containers were recycled, the highest rate for any packaging in the United States. Environmental concerns continued to lead to improvements and innovations in packaging technology, including the development of refillable and reusable containers.
In the 1990s there were more than 450 types of soft drinks on the market and new flavors and sweeteners are developed all the time to meet market demands. In the future, advanced technology will lead to greater efficiency of soft drink production at all stages. New methods of water clarification, sterilization, and pasteurization will improve production and minimize the need for preservatives in soft drinks. Concerns with consumer health, safety, and the environment will continue to have a positive impact on trends in the soft drink industry.
Where To Learn More
Louis, J.C. The Cola Wars. Everest House, 1980.
Mitchell, Alan J., ed. Formulation and Production of Carbonated Soft Drinks. AVI, 1990.
Oliver, Thomas. The Real Coke. Random House, 1986.
Riley, John J. A History of the American Soft Drink Industry. Arno Press, 1972.