Whether you consume it daily or only at the movies, soda remains a part of the dietary habits of millions of people around the world. Strange facts about soft drinks range from ties to historical events to eye-opening data about the health implications of soda consumption. Plenty of weird facts about age-old popular sodas may even put you at odds with your favorite beverage, while others may make you stock up on a few packs.
Soft drinks have been available since the 18th century when scientists found a way to create the fizziness that naturally occurs in carbonated mineral waters. Before long, the market bubbled over with carbonated beverages, leading to the vast array of brands available today.
Lithium, typically prescribed to individuals who have bipolar disorder, served as one of 7-Up's critical ingredients for nearly two decades. Lithium was such a prominent part of 7-Up that the beverage used to be called Bib-Label Lithiated Lemon-Lime Soda? Coincidentally, this drink hit the market less than a month before the onset of the Great Depression.
Manufacturers removed lithium after the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) outlawed its use in drinks in 1948. However, some still believe the "Up" in the name refers to the effects of lithium. The drink's creator, Charles L. Griggs, passed without confirming or denying the rumor.
Coca-Cola produces a kosher version of its soda for Passover. In the 1930s, Rabbi Tobias Geffen grew concerned the cola might contain non-kosher ingredients. He approached the company to determine if the beverage's contents met kosher law. Geffen discovered the diffuser glycerin came from non-kosher animals and pressured Procter and Gamble (the company's glycerin provider) into using cottonseed oil. This step marked the first move towards kosher Coke.
Today, Coke, like most soft drinks, is sweetened with corn syrup, and corn products are prohibited during Passover. Therefore, Coca-Cola flavors Passover cola with real sugar and a rabbi observes the production process from start to finish to ensure authenticity.
According to a 2014 study published by the American Journal of Public Health, daily soda drinkers age faster than non-drinkers. Researchers from the University of California San Francisco analyzed nutritional data from more than 5,000 subjects and found the chromosomes of people who drank soda daily degraded faster than those who did not.
Subjects who consumed 8 oz of soda daily (about 2/3 of a can) exhibited signs of 1.9 more years of aging; people who drank 20 oz a day (the amount most commonly found in American vending machines) showed an additional 4.6 years of aging. The second figure lines up with the chromosome degradation rate caused by regular smoking.
In the 1940s, Tennessee brothers and whiskey producers Barney and Ally Hartman didn't like any available alcohol chasers, so they decided to make their own. The duo created Mountain Dew in 1951, marketing it as a whiskey chaser. The name itself comes from a whimsical reference to the house wine of Tennessee: moonshine.
Pepsi-Cola acquired the rights to Mountain Dew in 1964 and began to use high fructose corn syrup versus the regular sugar the Hartman brothers used. For those craving the original taste, PepsiCo offered a limited-run beverage called Dewshine from 2015 to 2017. It was sold in 25 oz glass jugs and featured real sugar.