Like so many people do at the beginning of the year, we made some lifestyle changes in our family. It seems like we do this every year, but this year, the changes seem to have a much better chance of sticking. How and why is a story for another day.

One of our changes has been to cut back (not necessarily cut out) consumption of soft drinks. We weren’t big “sodaholics” before – maybe having 2-4 per week. Now, we have 0-1 per week. Perhaps the recent news articles linking caramel color used in soft drinks to cancer has helped to encourage us to cut the habit. More likely is the fact that we now only eat restaurant – or fast food – meals one per week, rather than the previous 2-4 times per week.

Over the last weekend, during our outing, we were discussing that there seemed to be affiliations between different fast food chains and soft drink makers. Regardless of brand, these soft drink makers seem to be based on cola. In past posts, we’ve looked at root beer and ginger ale. Where does cola fit in to the mix?

First, What is cola?
According to, cola is a caffeinated, optionally carbonated, beverage flavored with kola nut and coca leaves (cocaine).  Modern colas contain neither kola nut, nor coca leaves, instead relying upon other, less controversial, ingredients to supply the flavor and the caffeine. The sweeteners used today are controversial on other levels- we’ll shelve that topic for now.

Turning to, we find that cola was invented by pharmacist John Stith Pemberton in Atlanta in 1886. Prior to inventing the soft drink, Pemberton was known for his alcoholic Coca wine, which combined wine with the extracts of kola nut and coca leaf. When Atlanta enacted prohibition in 1886, Pemberton substituted sugar syrup for wine and Coca-Cola was born.

While we cannot put an exact date on the creation of root beer and ginger ale, we find that they both predate cola, with both thought to have first appeared in the 1850s in North America. Much like root beer and ginger ale, we also find that the soft drink was developed from an alcoholic form.

Do you drink soda? …or do you call it pop, or something else? What’s your favorite soft drink? Share in the comments.