In the early 1900s, it was common to enjoy a carbonated beverage at a local soda fountain or ice cream saloon. Soda pop reigned as king of all drinks, that is, until now.
A March 11 AP report shows that America’s new favorite drink is also an on-tap favorite – water.
For decades, soda was the top drink of choice, with the average American downing a whopping 54 gallons per year as recent as 1998, according to industry tracker Beverage Digest. At the time, water came in a distant second, at just 42 gallons a year.
As the nation’s obesity rates soared, soda came under fire as a leading contributor, and plain old water has slowly usurped the top spot.
Current statistics now show Americans drink an average of 44 gallons of soda a year, a 17 percent drop from the peak in 1998. The average amount of water consumed has increased 38 percent to about 58 gallons a year.
Perhaps NYC residents are on to something. The ban on large, sugary drinks and sodas goes into effect March 12, with restaurants and corner coffee spots limited to selling nothing over a 16-ounce size.
Sodas were the hip drink of the 1980s, as celebrated stars Michael Jackson, Bill Cosby, Michael Jordan and others all pitched for their favorite carbonated drink. Cola wars have raged between soda giants like Pepsi and Coke for over a century.
While Pepsi slogans told us they were the “Choice of a new generation,” and Coke encouraged us to “Catch the wave,” bottled water, without any marketing muscle, has become the favorite.
No celebrity endorsement is needed on the value of bottled water. Everyone from doctors to health advocates to government officials have been blaming obesity on soft drinks.
Sodas are more than just empty calories. Soda pop, especially diet sodas, have been linked to stroke risk. Diet and regular sodas both contribute to weight gain, kidney damage and certain cancers. Regular soft drinks have been linked to elevated blood pressure.
Chairman and former CEO of Nestle North America, Kim Jeffrey, is happy to see bottled water in the spotlight. Nestle, the Swiss company that makes Poland Spring, Nestle Pure Life, Deer Park and other brands, has nearly half of the share of the bottled water market.
"For thousands of years, water was beverage of choice for human beings," Jeffrey said. "Now we're reverting back to that."