John J. Riley: Organization in the Soft Drink Industry: A History of the American Bottlers of Carbonated Beverages (1946)
significant production challenges during World War II, members of the
American Bottlers of Carbonated Beverages (ABCB) sought to review and
learn from industry experiences during World War I.
Unfortunately, there was little documentation to be found.
As a result, the executive board authorized John J. Riley, long-time ABCB
secretary, to document the organization’s and industry’s
history. The end result was
Organization In The Soft Drink
Industry: A History of the American Bottlers of Carbonated Beverages,
self-published by the ABCB in 1946.
In addition to research support provided by the ABCB staff, Riley
received considerable input and assistance from many long-time bottlers.
He also had full access to the ABCB files and records of the
National Bottlers’ Gazette and
American Carbonator and Bottler
magazines, virtual treasure troves of information.
Considering the sources of information Riley had available, the
credibility of the information in his book seems to be quite high.
Portions of Riley’s comments about the early development of the
industry are included here to help set the stage for further discussion
Historic events marked the industrial progress of the new republic during the early years of the 19th century. American genius was establishing a record in the creation of those things which were to make it great – the steamboat by Fulton (1807), street gas lights in Baltimore (1821), the first passenger railroad (1828), the first telegraph line (1844), the Atlantic cable (1858), the Pacific railroad (1869), the Bell telephone (1876), Edison’s incandescent lamp (1878), the Brooklyn Bridge (1883) and many others.
and political phases of the country’s progress were experienced.
The war with
Those are events to be found in the history books. Not of sufficient importance to be so recorded, but developing the early stages of a growth which would make it one of the Nation’s important industries, was the bottling of flavored carbonated waters – identified by various names, such as 'aerated waters,' 'mineral waters,' 'soda water,' and 'pop.'
In America, as in Europe, intensive interest in the duplication of natural effervescent waters during the later years of the 1700s, by scientists such as Venel, Black, MacBride, Cavendish, Priestly, Bergman, Lavoisier, Scheele, and others, had been followed by successful efforts to commercialize them. Compounded in the pharmacies and in factories producing the bottled products, with flavors added as a novel variation, they rapidly became one of those things characteristic of metropolitan life in Europe and, of course, in America.
Hawkins, in 1809,
had been granted the first
in Philadelphia, and John Matthews in New York, started the manufacture
of soda water apparatus, also about 1835, although of necessity their
earlier operations were largely confined to the fountain type of
equipment, for bottling plants were not numerous.
Others soon entered this field, including A. D. Puffer of
Equipment for the
preparation and bottling of soda water at this time was principally of
European manufacture, or followed its design.
By 1860, however, the bottling plant seems to have reached a
position of sufficient importance in the soda water business to justify
special consideration by the American equipment manufacturers, and to
require their attention to development of apparatus better adapted to
the bottler’s needs. Whereas
in 1849 there were only 64 bottling plants with production value
approximating $760,000 according to the 7th United States
Census, by 1859 the number of plants bottling “Mineral Waters and Pop”
had been increased to 123 with corresponding rise in value of annual
production to $1,415,000. Of
these 123 plants 9 were in
Devices for the bottler’s use began to appear in ever-increasing numbers among new inventions being patented…Names of bottlers later identified with industry organization activity also appear among those of early patentees of bottling apparatus, showing their interest in the mechanical advancement of their chosen field…
Glass bottles, hand-blown, were long in use. It was early in the 19th century that one of the glass factories was specializing in bottle manufacture. And, of course, the stopper or corking process was one of the bottler’s early problems to which many were devoting their inventive and mechanical abilities.
Most widely used in the closure field as this history begins, however, and as successors of the common cork and wire fastener patented by Putnam in 1859, were Hutchinson’s patent stopper of 1879 and the Putnam Lightning stopper of the same period. There were many others, of course, including the various types of internal stoppers making use of a glass ball or a rubber ball (such as the Codd stopper of 1880 and a similar device of the Matthews firm), but none of these acquired prominence.
In the bottled soft
drink trade the
By 1900 the new
crown corks were popular to a degree only in New England and in the
Midwest, with only twenty bottling concerns using them in the
As for the kinds of drinks produced, the bottlers in 1880 had quite a variety to offer the consuming public. Soda water in siphons, and several types of mineralized carbonated waters, offered as duplicates of waters of the famous springs, were popular items. Flavored drinks were numerous, too, even though the bottler was limited to a greater extent than the fountain operator. The latter was able to use many kinds of fresh syrups, including those made from fruits, or from milk or cream.
Ginger ale was the leading bottled flavored drink, but sarsaparilla, root beer, cream soda (vanilla), lemon soda, and a type of strawberry soda were also popular, and were prepared from flavoring extracts, sugar syrup, and carbonated water. Among the drinks which were occasionally brewed and bottled, were birch beer, spruce beer, hop beer, ginger beer, and a kind of carbonated mead. Many bottlers supplemented their regular line of these “temperance” drinks with weiss beer, while others bottled lager and other malt brews…
As late as 1880
manufacturers of bottled 'soda water’ were numerous only in the
metropolitan areas of the East and
In 1879, according
to the U.S. Bureau of the Census, manufacturers of Mineral and Soda
Waters operated 512 factories, and had capital invested totaling
slightly over $2,500,000. Of
this number of plants 159 were located in 15 of the larger cities –
In the eighties the…bottle, rather than the product, seems to have been the factor wielding the greatest influence toward community of interest. A large proportion of those engaged in the bottling of carbonated beverages also bottled beer; but those who bottled either product used bottles, and preventing misappropriation of those bottles was the principal problem, or so it appeared to them. Thus we have the one matter of common interest which was to be a most compelling motive in the organization of industry associations…The United States Bottlers’ Protective Association was the result of this initial effort. Short-lived, it nevertheless formed the background for its successor organization: the American Bottlers’ Protective Association (1889-1918), the National Bottlers’ Association (1918-1919), and…the American Bottlers of Carbonated Beverages.
The following table from
Organization in the Soft Drink
Industry details industry growth up to and during the