Friday, March 4, 2016
Fizz: How Soda Shook Up the World by Tristan Donovan
First off, I had no idea that soft drinks started as carbonated water. Apparently there was an idea that it was good with you. Then people added flavourings. For a while, it was like medicine (Coke started off as medicine, for one). Then it was a treat. And now it's an everyday drink. Although come to think of it, when I was a kid, I think coke (with all the bubbles beaten out of it) was occasionally used as a medicine. I think it was for cough?
I thought it was fascinating how far the influence of soft drinks reached. In particular, Coke, Pepsi and politics. It even spilled over into the race into space.
While the book starts in Europe, most of it takes place in America, since that's where soda was adopted most rapidly. After the war, there's a brief excursion into Japan and other countries. But mostly, it's very Western (particularly American) centric. Well... Looking at the subject matter I guess there's no choice.
I've actually read a related book before - Secret Formula by Frederick Allen, which was an extremely interesting and detailed look into the history of Coca-Cola. I remember saying, in my review for the book, that everything unrelated to coke was brought in only when it affected coke. Well, this book is more about the broader picture, and coke is but one of the many companies it talks about. Fizz is more like a broad look into the soda industry, though in the later half, when companies began to form, it seems to focus more on the leading companies.
So depending on what you're in the mood for, I have two books for you.
If you want a general look at how soft drinks took over the world, read Fizz. If you're a Coke person and you want to know more about your favourite company (as well as all the company politics!), read Secret Formula. Both books are interesting and easy to read.