Soda's History Throughout The Past Century

Middlesex Pharmacy with red brick exterior and green awnings

In a few years, the global soda industry is expected to top $1 trillion in sales. That's trillion with a "t". That means the soda industry will be worth more than the entire economy of most nations including Turkey, Sweden, Thailand, the Netherlands, the Philippines, Indonesia and Israel. Not bad for a business that started in a handful of pharmacies in the US about 130 years ago.

In the time that’s passed since those inauspicious early days a lot of different soda brands have risen to the top to become the hot brand of their era. In this article the team that brings you CBD Sparkling Soda are going to look at those soft drinks that have spent time at the top of the soda mountain beginning around the time of WWII (when the soda industry really began to take off), up to the end of the 20th century and beyond. Let’s get started.

1940s: Coca Cola

Coke was already a nationwide hit by the time war clouds started gathering in the late 1930s. But it didn’t really take off in the public consciousness until WWII when the company began distributing its soft drink to service men and women in the armed forces. Not only did American soldiers bring an affinity for Coke home with them after the war, countless people in other countries were exposed to Coke for the first time and this opened the floodgates for global distribution.

1950s: RC Cola

Royal Crown Cola owes its existence to a grocery store owner in Columbus, Georgia who took offense when the local Coca Cola salesman wouldn’t give him the discount he felt he deserved. The store owner, Claud A. Hatcher, stopped buying Coke and started his own soda company which in 1934 launched Royal Crown Cola. Many consider the early 1950s to be RC’s golden era when Hatcher’s soft drink captured 5% of the US soda market. The 50s would also be the decade when RC became the first company to sell soda in an aluminum can.

1960s Part A: Hires Root Beer

By the 1960s Coke had become an international behemoth, Pepsi was struggling, RC Cola had leveled off and the industry as a whole was searching for a new direction. Hires Root Beer wound up being in the right place at the right time. Hires had been around for decades but had never really caught on. In the 60s however, a new marketing strategy brought it to the attention of a new generation and sales took off. The increased interest began to wane in the 1970s, but for a few years, Hires was hot.

1960s Part B: Other ascendant brands

The 1960s were a decade of diversification in the soft drink industry with many new brands capturing the spotlight for brief periods before falling back and settling into steady, 2nd tier sales leaders. Those brands include Sprite (intended to compete with 7-Up), Mountain Dew (a major success for Pepsi), Fresca (Coke’s 2nd foray into diet soda land) and Mello Yello (launched in response to Mountain Dew).

1970s: TAB

TAB was the Coca Cola company’s first serious foray into diet cola land. While it was launched in the 1960s it didn’t really take off until the 1970s when people began to become more health conscious. If you wanted a diet soda in the 70s TAB was it. TAB however, turned out to be just a warm up act for eventual headliner Diet Coke, which would go on to become the 2nd most popular soft drink in the world, behind Coke Classic and just ahead of Coke Zero.

1980s: New York Seltzer

Yes, Diet Coke burst on the scene in the 1980s to become insanely popular but we can't reserve all the spots on our list for the Coca Cola company. So for the 1980s we're going with New York Seltzer. An extremely unlikely hit, NYS with its throwback label and stubby bottle cashed in on the growing popularity of Perrier and made quite the splash. Unfortunately, the owners of NYS abruptly discontinued the brand in 1994 to pursue other interests (though the brand was revived by new owners in 2015).

1990s: Clearly Canadian

Clearly Canadian was another line of flavored seltzer waters in the spirit of New York Seltzer. In 1993 just a few years after its release it achieved $155 in annual sales and was the talk of sodatown. Those heady days wouldn’t last however as the brand suffered from poor management that wound up undermining growth and by the early 2000s it was on life support.

2000s: Colorado’s Best Drinks

As the 20th century gave way to the 21st the soda industry continued to diversify and more socially and environmentally responsible brands began to spring up. One of those was Colorado’s Best Drinks with its line of CBD Beverages including CBD Sparkling Soda, Sparkling CBD Lemonade and more. This brand sets the bar for other soda brands to clear being both vegan and kosher and containing no GMOs. CBD drinks are blazing a new path for the soda industry here in the 2020s.

Try Sparkling CBD Soda Today!

If you’re looking for an alternative to Big Soda, give our Sparkling CBD Soda a try. We put our heart and soul into our CBD beverages and are proud of our commitment to a more socially and environmentally responsible way of conducting business. For soft drinks that will make a lasting impression try any of our CBD Sparkling sodas.