From the Magazine — March 9, 2013, 11:00 am

Soda-Water: What it is, and how it is made (August 1872)

When soda was a wonder, not a basic human right

A Soda FountainNew York City’s ban on sugary beverages served in containers larger than sixteen ounces goes into effect on Tuesday, March 12. In August 1872, Harper’s Magazine ran a report by John H. Snively on Americans’ nascent taste for soda — which was then still slightly mysterious, and as much a social phenomenon as a gastronomic one — that in some ways anticipated the outcry over New York’s withdrawal of what we now recognize as our essential right to gargantuan syrupy drinks. Perhaps most prescient was Snively’s insight on the vicissitudes of the soda business: “Unless the location is very good, the returns are not nearly so large as might be expected.”

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