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Soda Timeline (revised)




Brief Introduction

This is a revised timeline of selected events in the history of soda.

Soda Timeline


  • Ginger beer is introduced to England.


  • Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) identifies caffeine.


  • The word "caffeine" enters the English language.


  • The kola nut is discovered by British explorers in Africa.


  • The word "kola nut" enters the English language.


  • The word "pep", meaning brisk energy, is introduced to the English language by people in the medical profession in England. Derived from the word "pepper".


  • "Pep" enters the American English vernacular.


  • The word "peppy", meaning full of pep, enters mainstream British English. Derived from the word "pep".


  • "Peppy" enters the American English vernacular.


  • Ginger ale is introduced in Boston, MA as alternative to hard liquors such as beer, ale, and whiskey. It was inspired by ginger beer, and it was invented by Frederick Edward Caldwell (1782-1845).


  • Cream soda is introduced in Boston as another alternative to hard liquors. It was also invented by Frederick E. Caldwell.


  • Sarsaparilla is introduced in Philadelphia, PA. It was invented by Benjamin Harold Dawson (1785-1853).


  • Root beer is introduced in Philadelphia as a less potent alternative to sarsaparilla. It was also invented by Benjamin H. Dawson.


  • Robert W. Bradshaw (1807-1898) invents Pepsi-Cola (May 17), the first cola; initial working title, lasting over two weeks, was Pepsy Cola; Bradshaw accepts Pepsi, with the added hyphen connecting with Cola, by early June.
  • The Pepsi-Cola Company is founded in New York, NY (June 17).


  • The word "cola" enters the English language.


  • Elias James Pendleton (1811-1886) invents Sweetie Cola; The Sweetie Cola Company is founded in Boston. This is the first cola that came out after Pepsi-Cola.


  • Samuel Martin Davis (1812-1890) invents Quaker Cola; The Quaker Cola Company is founded in Philadelphia.


  • John Robert Pickens (1813-1895) invents Pickens Cola; The Pickens Cola Company is founded in Chicago, IL.
  • The Pepsi-Cola Company introduces Cherry Pepsi; cherry cola had already been a soda fountain favorite since the mid-1840s. Sweetie Cola, Quaker Cola, and Pickens Cola would come out with their own cherry colas soon afterward.


  • The Pepsi-Cola Company introduces new flavorings to their cola line: Orange, Lemon, Lime, Chocolate, and Vanilla Pepsi.


  • John William King (1818-1901) invents Royal Crown Cola (June 19, RC Cola for short); initial working titles for the new cola include King's Cola and King John's Cola, after puns on the inventor's name, but these were quickly rejected and substituted with "Royal Crown"; The Royal Crown Cola Company is founded in Los Angeles, CA (July 3). RC Cola is the first cola to rival Pepsi-Cola throughout the U.S. and internationally.


  • The Royal Crown Cola Company introduces RC Cherry Cola.


  • Pepsi-Cola redesigns its original logo, surrounding the Pepsi logo with a red, white, and blue circle in addition to the mostly dark blue background (which was present since its founding in 1839); the new logo was intended to invoke patriotism in the United States during the American Civil War.


  • Henry Sheldon Thompson (1826-1905) invents Liberty Cola (June 26); The Liberty Cola Company is founded in Chicago (July 10). Liberty Cola becomes a rival of Pepsi-Cola and RC Cola.


  • Liberty Cherry Cola is introduced by The Liberty Cola Company.


  • Due to fierce competition from Liberty Cola, The Pickens Cola Company goes bankrupt.


  • The Quaker Cola Company goes bankrupt.


  • John Pemberton (1832-1888) invents Coca-Cola (June 13), inspired by coca wine and Pepsi-Cola, the latter of which he was a fan, sharing the qualities of both the extract of coca leaves from coca wine, and the kola nut flavoring from Pepsi-Cola; The Coca-Cola Company is founded in Atlanta, GA (July 4, to deliberately coincide with the 100th anniversary of the founding the United States of America with the signing of the Declaration of Independence). Coca-Cola (Coke for short) is the first cola to become an arch-rival of Pepsi-Cola. In the first several years, Coca-Cola also contained extract from coca leaves; thus, the new drink initially contained cocaine.
  • Coke quickly surpasses Liberty Cola in popularity, becoming third behind Pepsi and RC.


  • Coke becomes a somewhat close runner-up to Pepsi in popularity, surpassing RC.
  • The "big four" colas are established: Pepsi, Coke, RC, and Liberty.


  • Being drowned in competition with the big four cola companies, The Sweetie Cola Company of Boston goes bankrupt.


  • Cocaine is omitted from the Coca-Cola recipe, and is replaced by flavoring of coca leaves minus the extract.


  • The Coca-Cola Company introduces Cherry Coke.


  • Dr. Pepper, a popular soft drink reminiscent of cherry cola, is introduced.


  • Caleb Bradham (1867-1934) invents his own cola (May 8), appropriately titled "Caleb's Cola"; this cola has a traditional cola flavor that serves as an amalgam of three noteworthy, defunct brands of cola: Sweetie (1844-1880), Quaker (1847-1873), and Pickens (1850-1871).
  • Soon after patenting Caleb's Cola, Bradham opens a chain of soda fountains serving Caleb's Cola and popular brands of legendary soft drinks such as ginger beer, ginger ale, cream soda, sarsaparilla, and root beer; the first soda fountain in that chain of stores was named Caleb's Soda Fountain and it was located in Charlotte, NC.
  • Caleb's Cola Company is founded in Charlotte, NC.


  • Caleb's Cherry Cola is introduced.


  • Caleb's Cola Company renames itself to Caleb's Famous, Inc.; Caleb's Cola and Cherry Cola are appropriately renamed Caleb's Famous Cola and Caleb's Famous Cherry Cola; Caleb's Soda Fountain is renamed Caleb's Famous Soda Fountain.


  • Caleb's Famous, Inc. introduces it's own brands of ginger beer, ginger ale, cream soda, sarsaparilla, and root beer.
  • Caleb's Famous, Inc. introduces new flavors of soda to the Caleb's Famous line: strawberry (pink color), cherry (red), black cherry (dark red), orange (orange color), lemon (yellow), lime (bright green), blueberry (blue), raspberry (reddish purple), grape (purple), licorice (black), orange cola, lemon cola, lime cola, chocolate cola, vanilla cola, chocolate (bright brown), and vanilla (clear color, and reminiscent of vanilla beans as opposed to cream soda's creamy vanilla flavor).


  • 7Up, the first lemon-lime soda, is introduced.


  • Pepsi-Cola celebrates its 100th anniversary.
    • As part of this, Pepsi-Cola buys 7Up.
      • Since 1939, 7Up is made by Pepsi.


  • The Royal Crown Cola Company introduces RC Lemon-Lime Soda, the first lemon-lime soda to come out after 7Up.


  • Pepsi introduces Cherry 7Up, a cherry soda.
  • Pepsi also begins to manufacture Mountain Dew, a popular citrus juice-flavored soda.


  • The Liberty Cola Company introduces Liberty Lemon-Lime Soda.


  • RC Cola celebrates its 100th anniversary.


  • Pepsi introduces seven new fruit flavors to their 7Up line: strawberry, orange, lemon, lime, blueberry, raspberry, and grape. Despite the variety of 7Up flavors, the lemon-lime soda is simply called 7Up to the present day, as well as remaining by far the most common and popular flavor.


  • Coca-Cola introduces Sprite, the first major lemon-lime soda to come out after 7Up.


  • Liberty Cola celebrates its 100th anniversary.
  • Coca-Cola introduces Cherry Sprite, which is basically similar to Cherry 7Up.


  • Coca-Cola celebrates its 100th anniversary.
    • As part of this, Coke introduces seven new fruit flavors to their Sprite line, the same types Pepsi introduced to their 7Up line in 1959. Like 7Up that came first, the most common and popular flavor of Sprite is lemon-lime, and this has simply been called Sprite up to the present day.


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