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classic dr pepper bottles

Today, we take soda for granted. If you want a refreshing beverage with a certain flavor, you can just pick one up at your local grocery store, order one at a nearby restaurant, or even better, visit us our soda shop in downtown Frederick, MD! Despite the fact that sodas have a prominent place in our culture today, these drinks had to be invented just like anything else.

So where did they come from? How did those vintage bottled sodas turn into cases of cans we see so often today? The story of the development of three of the most popular sodas in the world – Coca Cola, Dr. Pepper, and Pepsi – is an interesting one.

Coca Cola

The history of Coca Cola dates all the way back to 1886. When it was invented, by a man named John Pemberton, it actually did contain cocaine! In addition to cocaine, Coca Cola was originally an alcoholic beverage until prohibition laws got in the way. When the alcohol was replaced with a sugar syrup, the newly invented soda took off and started to gain the popularity it enjoys today. Of course, the cocaine was eventually removed from the formula (in 1903), and the beverage has gone on to be one of the most popular in history.

Dr. Pepper

While it might not be quite as famous as Coca Cola, Dr. Pepper actually holds the title of being the oldest major soft drink in the country. 1885 saw the birth of this still-popular soda, when it was created and first sold in Waco, Texas. The name comes from the fact that this beverage was initially marketed as a brain tonic and an energy drink. It no longer claims to have any medical benefits or purposes, but consumers love it nonetheless. Dr. Pepper moved from a local drink to the national stage when it was introduced to crowds at the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis, Missouri.


As you know, today Pepsi is positioned as the primary rival to Coca Cola, and there’s always been discussion as to which cola came first. Like Dr. Pepper, this drink started out with the promise of medical benefits. Caleb Bradham was a pharmacist who developed the soda and sold it beginning in 1893 as an energy booster and a digestive aid. The product was a success for Bradham for many years, but he eventually went bankrupt due to changes in sugar prices. A candy company, Loft Inc., came into possession of the company, and it moved into the competitive position that it holds today opposite Coca Cola in the market.

As you can see, each of these three major soda players comes from a unique, yet similar background. Despite not being able to deliver on the medical gains some promised initially, these drinks have stood the test of time simply because consumers love the way they taste. With strong name recognition and the ability to provide refreshment on a warm day, it is likely that these three soda giants will remain relevant for many years to come.

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