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Fizz: How Soda Shook Up the World Paperback – November 1, 2013

4.8 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In his fascinating history of carbonated drinks, Donovan (Replay: The History of Video Games) reveals that fizz is about a lot more than just bubbles. The soda of today started out as a far different beverage—Hippocrates looked to mineral waters as a cure-all for ailments, aging, and even as a way to bless marriages. But it was not until the first soda fountain in the early 1800s that an industry was born. Carbonated waters that had largely been enjoyed at spas by only the wealthiest could now be a daily pleasure for everyone. When Coca-Cola came on the scene in the late 19th century—with its first ad touting the confection as Refreshing! Exhilarating!—it was the start of the company's attempt at global domination. Donovan details the brand's ascension as it fought off the temperance movement, lawsuits, and competitors like Pepsi (which went through nearly three bankruptcies in its early years only to become a powerhouse in its own right thanks to the Pepsi Challenge and a famous Michael Jackson commercial) and anti-colas like 7 Up and Mountain Dew. Coke helped shape the modern corporate model with some of the earliest instances of franchises, became the exclusive beverage of the U.S. military during WWII, and ended up, along with Pepsi, in space aboard the Challenger. Soda has certainly taken hits recently with a growing obesity epidemic and city restrictions, but it seems destined to hit the sweet spot indefinitely. (Nov.)

From Booklist

Whether you call it soda or pop, it’s the foundation of one of the modern world’s most enduring industries, admired and reviled in almost equal measure from its very beginning. Donovan has researched the business’s eighteenth-century beginnings, when scientists identified the chemical elements that enliven drinking water with tiny, tickly bubbles. Learning to generate, control, preserve, and transport effervescence took decades, but technological advances gradually gave rise to such iconic institutions as the soda fountain and the drive-in. The other major component in soft-drink manufacture is sugar, whose price and availability has driven much of the industry’s profit margins. Atlanta’s Coca-Cola seemed once to own a near-monopoly, but rivals captured public imagination with innovative advertising to challenge Coke’s dominance. Soda’s current status as putative villain in the world’s nutrition crisis looks to continue the beverage’s controversial history. A fascinating cultural and business chronicle of a product everyone takes for granted. --Mark Knoblauch
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Chicago Review Press (November 1, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1613747225
  • ISBN-13: 978-1613747223
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #789,021 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Vincent S. Steckline on January 11, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Nature started adding carbon dioxide to spring water all by herself men only gave the springs and their waters names; Vichy, Saratoga Bad Pfäffer. Eventually men began making sparkling water, adding flavors and marketing it and fighting over everything involved. Tristan Donavan tells all: the cola wars (including colas in space), soda water during prohibition (replacing beer it was claimed), soda water in health (think curative baths) and in sickness (cavities and obesity “Supersize me!” yup Michael Bloomberg’s own war on soda serving size is there.) The technology is there too: getting CO2 into water, keeping the soda water in the bottles until you want it and getting it out easily when you do (that great invention pull-top cans! and hey, remember “church keys”?)
“Fizz” is informative and useful. Think of the pick-up lines you can use “Let me tell you about the Schweppes in your gin and tonic.” Or “Did you know that Perrier comes from the spring near where Hannibal paused in 216 BC with forty-six thousand troops” But “Fizz” is not just a fascinating list of facts but the story of carbonated water. It is readable and enjoyable.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The history of soda pop (tonic, soda, pop) or whatever you may call it in your neck of the woods has a relatively short but complicated and interesting history. Harking back to the water found in mineral springs, which were purported by doctors to have healing powers, entrepreneurs tried to find a way to bottle the water so that people didn't have to travel to a spa (and so the business man could get rich). There was limited success in this endeavor, so people started to try to figure out how to carbonate regular water, to which they would add some basic salts and minerals.

Getting CO2 to stay in solution with water is easier than it sounds. Carbon dioxide just doesn't want to dissolve into water and many people attempted, and failed, to undertake the process. Finally an individual figured out the way, and that was the start of the soda that we know today.

Because the water with the minerals added didn't taste very good, and because people have a craving to try new things, various flavorings were added to the soda water to make it distinct and palatable. Since there were no bottles available that could withstand the pressure, soda fountains were set up in drug stores which created their own versions of various combinations.

To put it simply, there was a lot of attempts to create new flavors, but only a few succeeded. And once it succeeded, there was a scramble on to imitate it. In the years that followed, cola wars broke out and a number of companies were going after each other. In addition, the Federal government decided to look for adulterants, so they, too were in the mix. And what we have today are the major companies we all know and love to hate. There are some boutique upstarts, but they really never put much of a dent into the sales of the big companies.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I found this to be quite interesting. If you are like me, soda is a huge part of everyday life. It was great to read about the origins and the rise of Coke and Pepsi. It was also quite revealing to find how much influence each had in world politics. The history of "New Coke" and "The Pepsi Challenge" were also pretty cool. It was an easy read that didn't get too mired in uninteresting history. The biggest disappointment was getting to the 75% point and realizing that the last 25% was all index and bibliography. I would have liked another 100 pages of text.
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Format: Paperback
It can be hard to believe that carbonated or fizzy soda is a relatively new thing but it is. This book will give you chapter and verse about this often addictive type of drink and how it has spread its tentacles around the world in just over a century.

Who would think that fizzy, flavoured water could be such a large economic powerhouse, touching the everyday lives of so many people and, at times, coming under criticism for contributing to expanding waistlines and creating health problems. Carbonated water itself was not new but its commercialisation and development is a textbook example of business development and social change.

This book provides a great, comprehensive and detailed history of carbonated drinks, soda or whatever you wish to call it. The author has carefully balanced the need to provide a detailed, authoritative resource with readability, accessibility and reader engagement. Thus this is a great general book for the curious reader as well as a terrific academic resource for those who need this sort of informational springboard, boosted by a massive section of bibliographic notes and reference resources.

Reviewing a book of this kind is always a difficult task as there is no real measurable metric other than was the individual reader better informed or entertained after reading it. Yes, would be the clear answer in this case and certainly it did get the old grey cells whirring a little afterwards too so one can add "thought provoking" to this book's credit. The book's price (even before discounting) is a great deal for such an interesting read that you don't even need to like soda to enjoy it. For the sheer general knowledge alone it is worth it. It is not a book written by an enthusiastic fan so whether you are an overactive soda consumer, a trenchant critic of soda drinks or something in between you will surely find "Fizz" to be a very filling infusion to your mind.
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