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Nonalcoholic beverage, usually carbonated, consisting of water (soda water), flavouring, and a sweet syrup or artificial sweetener. Attempts to reproduce the natural effervescence of certain spring waters for presumed health benefits began before 1700. Joseph Priestley's experiments with fixed air (carbon dioxide) led in the late 1790s to the successful preparation of carbonated mineral water by Jacob Schweppe of Geneva; by the early 1800s it was being bottled and sold commercially. Today there are hundreds of varieties of flavoured soft drinks. Some of the world's largest corporations (including Coca-Cola Co. and PepsiCo) founded their businesses on soft-drink manufacturing.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on soft drink, visit Britannica.com.