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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...
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