Soft drinks can trace their history back to the mineral water found in natural springs. Bathing in natural springs has long been considered a healthy thing to do, mineral water was said to have curative powers. Scientists soon discovered that gas carbonium or carbon dioxide was behind the bubbles in natural mineral water.
In 1767, the first drinkable, man made glass of carbonated water was created by Englishmen, Dr. Joseph Priestley. Three years later, the Swedish chemist, Torbern Bergman, invented a generating apparatus that made carbonated water from chalk by the use of sulfuric acid. Bergman's apparatus allowed imitation mineral water to be produced in large amounts.
In 1810, the first U.S. patent was issued for the "means of mass manufacture of imitation mineral waters" to Simons and Rundell, of Charleston, South Carolina. Carbonated beverages did not achieve great popularity in America until 1832, when John Mathews invented his apparatus for the making carbonated water. Mathews mass manufactured his apparatus for sale to others.
The drinking of either natural or artificial mineral water was considered a healthy practice. American pharmacists, who were selling most of the mineral waters, started to add medicinal and other flavorful herbs to the unflavored beverage, i.e. birch bark, dandelion, sarsaparilla and fruit extracts. The early drug stores with their soda fountains became a popular part of American culture. Customers wanted to take the drinks home with them and the soft drink bottling industry grew from the consumer demand.
Over 1,500 U.S. patents were filed for either a cork, cap or lid for the carbonated drink bottle tops. The bottles were under a lot of pressure from the gas. Inventors were trying to find the best way to prevent the carbon dioxide (bubbles) from escaping. In 1892, the "Crown Cork Bottle Seal" was patented by William Painter, a Baltimore machine shop operator. It was the first very successful method of keeping the bubbles in the bottle.
In 1899, the first patent was issued for a glass blowing machine for the automatic production of glass bottles. Earlier glass bottles had all been hand blown. Four years later, the new bottle blowing machine was in operation. It was first operated by the inventor, Michael J. Owens, an employee of Libby Glass Company. Within a few years, glass bottle production increased from 1,500 bottles a day to 57,000 bottles a day.
Sometime in the 1920's, the first "Hom-Paks" were invented. "Hom-Paks" are the familiar six-pack carrying cartons. Automatic vending machines also began to appear in the 1920's. The soft drink had become an American mainstay.