Big Soda Big Lies

vintage woman and soda bottles beverages-dr-pepper-61

Americans are worried…First they came for our tobacco, now are they coming for our sugary drinks?

This election has caused  panic among our citizens.

While many alarmed Americans are agitated, losing sleep over possible deportation, distressed over the state of their healthcare , control of their own bodies and basic civil rights, others are going into sugar shock at the very thought that soda, their beloved syrupy elixir, is being unfairly taxed.

Now that a soda tax  is in place in more than a 6 pack of American cities, some folks are alarmed.

be very afraid…soda taxes are coming for your 64 ounce liter of Dr Pepper.

While we grappled over the presidential election, a penny per ounce soda tax was passed in three different California cities this year (Oakland, San Francisco and Albany). Boulder Colorado  and Cook County, Illinois encompassing Chicago  passed similar measures joining Berkley in 2014 and Philadelphia this summer.

Super-Sized Americans

girl drinking soda

Sugar sweetened beverages are one of the major culprits in the obesity epidemic particularly among children.

The “good cheer” of Coke has come under blistering attack over the past several years  for its empty calories contributing to the obesity epidemic, high rates of diabetes and other health issues, especially among children,

The American Dream may have been downsized, but American’s ever expanding waistlines have clearly not been. Blame in no small part can go to our love affair with soda and penchant  for the super-sizing of our soft drinks.

Will Soda Fizzle Out?

baby drinking soda bottle beverages-7-up-1955-

“This young man is 11 months old – and he isn’t even our youngest customers by any means,” 7-Up crows in this 1955 advertisement. “For 7-Up is so pure, so wholesome you can give it to babies and feel good about it.”

The tax measure aimed at discouraging people from drinking soda naturally caused an outpouring of action from the beverage industry, worried that soda may be fizzled out of the American diet


Started on a slow drip at an early age, the soda industry has created and encouraged  a nation of addicts.

It was never too early to get your toddler hooked on the sweet stuff.

The trade organization American Beverage Association spent multi-millions of dollars to beat the soda tax, saturating the public with TV ads, full-page advertisements and flyers arguing it will be costly to consumers, calling the soda tax “discriminatory and highly unpopular.”

The powerful group got beaten back.

Big Soda, Big Lies

vintage 1950s kids and soda

“Soft drinks are youngsters top favorite when it comes to cool refreshment, whether they’re little leaguers or teenagers. No matter what kind of container this billion dollar market likes best, remember Continental has the right soft drink package for you.” Continental Cans ad 1958

For almost 100 years the  American Beverage Association has been carefully coaxing us to drink their carbonated beverages.

It’s no accident that soda pop, as American as apple pie and equally as loaded with sugar,  has been a ubiquitous part of our diet for nearly as long

The American Beverage Association (ABA) the trade association that represents America’s non-alcoholic beverage industry was founded in 1919 as the American Bottlers of Carbonated Beverages.

In 1919 there were about 600 bottlers who formed the association to provide a more unified voice before Congress and government.

Carbonated drinks have a number of “pet names” but only one high standard, we were told by the organization. “Up New England way some call for tonics and ginger ales. Park Avenue N.Y. might ask for “charged water,” and Parkville Tenn for “soda pop”…But just so the drink is carbonated and bottled you know it’s good and good for you.”

Within a few years they began an aggressive advertising campaign to promote the consumption of carbonated beverages  touting the healthful wholesomeness of their product…especially for America’s small fry.

 It’s Good and Good For  You

Beverages 7 up 53 SWScan02935 - Copy

7-up was the family drink so wholesome you could share it with the kiddies, no matter the age..One 7-up ad proclaimed “so pure so good so wholesome for everyone including the tiniest of tots.” Vintage ad 1953

Unlike today when most nutritionists are saying soda poses risks to children’s health, once upon a time soda was marketed as a wholesome, refreshment for kids of all ages…the younger the better

The ads  run by the American Bottlers of Carbonated Beverages relied on the esteemed  medical and academic communities to vouch for its healthfulness.

If fussy children were not getting enough liquids in their diet, not to worry Mama,  let them drink soda- pure water and nourishing sugar!  Mothers could rest assured,  soda was high in calories, at a time when calories had a positive connotation. In fact one ad  boasted of the beneficial high calorie content of soda that had more calories than fish, milk or vegetables. And what fun to drink.

“None is more palatable nor invigorating for you and your children. These health beckoning beverages are food as well as drink.”

“Good and good for you” was their motto for decades.  And good for their bottom line too.

No Fuss No Muss- A Simple Modern Approach

vintage ad-carbonated beverages

Vintage ad 1927 American Bottlers of Carbonated Beverages

“Youngsters do not get sufficient liquids in their regular diet, ” begin this ad from 1927 . “Your family doctor will tell you there’s a simple modern remedy.”

Tempt the family’s thirst with the irresistibly delicious tang of Bottled carbonated beverages. Serve these taste tempting drinks right with the meal…”between times”…and for ever social occasion. Refreshing bottled beverages are made with pure water, nourishing sugar and wholesome flavors.

They’re good and good for you.

Children Enjoy the Tang of These Delicious Drinks

vintage ad carbonated beverages 1927

American Bottlers of Carbonated Beverages Vintage ad 1927

A feast for the few year olds! And the best of it is that these bottled carbonated beverages are not only good but good for them.

The food basis of these drinks-invert sugar –  is simply high-grade sugar made highly nourishing and pre digested by natural action in the drink itself.

In fact, Prof J.H. Buchanan, Iowa State College recently proved by test that bottled carbonated beverages contain more calories per pound than fish, fresh asparagus buttermilk, cabbage or carrots. Moreover, the pre-digested food in these soft drinks is instantly assimilated by the blood.

Besides the finest sugar, these good drinks contain pure water and wholesome taste tempting flavors. Perfect carbonation- possible only when the drink is bottled- adds the delightful tangy taste.

No other food product is handled with greater care for sanity and purity.

Keep a case of your favorite carbonated beverage always on hand, ready to serve for any occasion.


vintage ad Cnada dry illustration of family

Vintage ad 1937 Canada Dry Ginger Ale

“Let the children have all they want,” advised this 1937  ad from Canada Dry Ginger Ale. “It’s wholesome and crystal pure.”

“Its gingervating,” the copy continued. “A sparkling glass of ginger ale cools you off to help pep you up…it’s a drink with a reason.”

Morning, noon or night was the right time for a carbonated beverage.

Of course it failed to mention that a 12 ounce serving of wholesome ginger ale has 31.84 grams of sugar which is equal to 8 teaspoons.

Sugar Rush

vintage ad illustration gasses of soda

Vintage ad 1946 Corn products refining Company

Yes, it was never too early to  include sparkling soda in your diet.

And why not… sugary soda was considered energizing goodness.

“You burn up  lot of energy in today’s fast pace…make sure you get it back…with sugar. A drink of sugar is like recharging your batteries.”

Yup, there was no better way to get going than with good old dextrose.

vintage illustration man reading magazine

Vintage illustration from Dextrose Sugar ad 1941

Like other food products, beverages were made better enriched with Dextrose sugar according to a series of ads run by the Corn Products Refining Company.

In the 1940’s a great deal of money in advertising was spent by the Corn Products Refining Company promoting the virtues of corn syrup, an inexpensive form of dextrose much favored by manufacturers.

Just as today the Corn Refiners are trying to re-brand High Fructose Corn Syrup as “corn sugar,” so 70 years ago the Corn Products Refining Company was fighting a similar battle to have sugar derived from corn accepted as a wholesome, nutritious ingredient, superior to old fashioned cane or beet sugar.

And they succeeded.

Dextrose became the new wonder nutrient touted for its energy giving properties. It was not just an ingredient or sweetener, it enriched food with the energy of the sun.

“The fizzing flavor and fragrance of pure soft drinks have captured America’s thirst to the tune of 40 million bottles a day-13 billion bottles a year,” the  copy to the 1946 Dextrose ad explained.

The key to its success?


vintage ad illustration soada bottles and party food

Vintage ad 1948


Smart for a teenage or grown up party is this attractive grouping of ice cold soft drinks. Perfect pairings salami cornucopias filled with creame cheese and chives.

Such popularity must be explained. Water merely satisfies-soft drinks gratify the thirst; provide refreshment, natural stimulation positive nutrition.”

Progressive bottlers use a blend of mildly sweet dextrose and sucrose ( both fine sugars) to achieve proper “body” without masking the true flavors o their popular beverages.

Dextrose adds real quick acting food energy the kind that makes “refreshment” a fact-not a catch phrase. Many fine beverages are today enriched with Dextrose enjoy their true energizing goodness!


vintage ad Dextrose Sugar 1940's

Another  Dextrose ad from 1948 boasts:

The key to energy! There’s nothing soft about soft drinks! Vigor abounds in every bottle! Deep down energy that sparkles with tempting wholesome goodness.

Americans of all ages enjoy soft drinks bountifully… to the tune of 50 million bottles a day!

67  years later the average Americans now drinks 45 gallons of sugary drinks a year.

That’s progress!

Sweet Thought

For now, folks can relax as the rest of America still remains submerged in a syrupy sea of over sized soft drinks. It’s when that sugar shock wears off though, that they may be worry  and realize who they really voted for in this presidential election.


© Sally Edelstein and Envisioning The American Dream, 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Sally Edelstein and Envisioning The American Dream with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.



  1. It’s not just the carbonated drinks that contribute “empty calories” to our diet. I was shocked by the sugar content of the bottled teas sold at my local gym (and in 24 ounce bottles: that’s 3 servings at 90 calories per serving!)
    And anyone tempted to order anything but plain tea or coffee at Starbucks or McDonald’s ought to check the calorie count and sugar content: Pumpkin Spice Latte, 20 oz, at Starbucks? 470 calories, 64 grams of sugar.
    I was a child in the fifties, and my friends and I regarded carbonated drinks as a rare treat — something we took to a picnic. We did not have Coke (remember those tiny bottles?) or Nehi in the fridge at home.


    • Yes you are right that soda is just one of the culprits and calories abound in so called healthier choices like ice tea, juices etc. Elaborate, expensive coffees are loaded with sugar and very high in calories. I much prefer to get my calories through eating and not drinking them. In my childhood too, soda was an occasional treat not a regular everyday beverage


    • Yes you are right that soda is just one of the culprits and calories abound in so called healthier choices like ice tea, juices etc. Elaborate, expensive coffees are loaded with sugar and very high in calories. I much prefer to get my calories through eating and not drinking them. In my childhood too, soda was an occasional treat not a regular everyday beverage


  2. AmeriBev

    America’s beverage companies agree that children and adults should be mindful of the calories they consume from added sugar. We are committed to being part of real solutions to public health challenges with initiatives like Balance Calories, which aims to reduce beverage calories in the American diet by 20 percent by 2025 through innovation, reformulation and smaller package sizes. We also support clear and understandable nutrition facts about foods and beverages and have voluntarily placed clear calorie labels on the front of the bottles and cans we produce.

    While we may disagree with some on discriminatory taxes, our work with public health and civic groups to actually reduce calories and sugar consumption is a stronger way forward to bring about lasting change. We will remain engaged in public health issues because we, too, want a healthy, America.


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