The story of 7 Up, a widely recognized lemon-lime flavored soft drink, is not just a tale of a successful beverage but also a narrative that intersects with the history of medicinal additives in consumer products. This article aims to delve into the intricate history of 7 Up, exploring its origins, the inclusion and eventual removal of lithium citrate, and its evolution in the beverage market.
Charles Leiper Grigg, born in 1868 in Missouri, embarked on a journey that would see him leave an indelible mark on the soft drink industry. Moving to St. Louis at the age of 22, Grigg began his career in advertising and sales for soft drink companies. His first creation, “Whistle,” a result of his time with a manufacturing company owned by Vess Jones, was the beginning of his foray into beverage formulation. However, a conflict with management led him down a different path.
Grigg’s next venture was with the Howdy Corporation, where he developed another orange-flavored drink called “Howdy.” Eventually, he formed the Howdy Company with financier Edmund G. Ridgway and lawyer Frank Gladney. The market at the time was saturated with orange sodas, particularly dominated by Orange Crush. This competition prompted Grigg to shift his focus to a lemon-lime flavor, leading to the development of a new soft drink.
In 1929, after extensive experimentation and testing, Grigg introduced “Bib-Label Lithiated Lemon-Lime Soda,” a product that entered the market mere weeks before the catastrophic stock market crash. Despite the economic downturn and the presence of approximately 600 other lemon-lime sodas in the market, Grigg’s creation managed to carve out its own space.
The distinctive feature of this early version of 7 Up was its inclusion of lithium citrate. Commonly used in patent medicines of the time, lithium citrate was known for its mood-stabilizing properties. It was used in the treatment of various mental health conditions like bipolar disorder, depression, and mania. The inclusion of lithium in beverages was part of a broader trend during that era, where elements thought to have health benefits were added to commercial drinks.
The name “Bib-Label Lithiated Lemon-Lime Soda” was a mouthful, and it wasn’t long before it was shortened to “7 Up Lithiated Lemon Soda.” By 1936, the brand name was further simplified to “7 Up.” The “7” in the name has been subject to various theories, none of which have been definitively confirmed. Some speculate that it was derived from the seven ingredients used in the original recipe, while others believe it could be linked to the atomic mass of lithium, which is around 7.
The removal of lithium citrate from 7 Up’s formula occurred in 1950, following the government’s ban on the use of the substance in soft drinks in 1948. This change reflected a growing awareness and regulation of ingredients used in food and beverage products.
Grigg was not only a skilled beverage formulator but also had a knack for marketing. He transformed his company’s name from “Howdy” to “The Seven Up Corporation,” and by the 1940s, 7 Up had ascended to become the third best-selling soft drink in the world. The brand’s marketing and branding strategies evolved over the years, reflecting changes in consumer preferences and regulatory landscapes.
7 Up has undergone several reformulations since its inception. A significant change came in 2006 when the U.S. version of the product was reformulated to be marketed as “100% natural.” This was achieved by eliminating additives like calcium disodium EDTA and replacing sodium citrate with potassium citrate. However, the use of high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) in its formulation led to disputes over its “natural” claims. In 2007, the brand stopped marketing itself as “100% natural” and instead promoted having “100% Natural Flavors.”
Grigg’s legacy in the soft drink industry is significant, characterized by innovation, adaptability, and an understanding of market trends. His early venture into adding a mood-stabilizing element to a beverage reflects a time when the boundaries between medicine and consumer products were more fluid than they are today.
Have You Ever Wondered Why 7 Up is Called So?
One theory suggests it’s because of the seven original ingredients listed on the bottle. Another idea ties the name to the early versions of the drink being sold in 7-ounce bottles. This trivia adds a layer of intrigue to your favorite lemon-lime soda.
There was a Diet 7 Up?
Diet 7 Up, originally known as “Like,” has undergone several branding transformations. From its initial name, it shifted to Diet 7-Up, then to Sugar-Free 7-Up, and eventually returned to Diet 7-Up in 1979. These changes reflect the evolving marketing strategies and consumer preferences in the soft drink industry.
Charles Leiper Grigg faced significant challenges in popularizing 7 Up. During the Great Depression, he had to navigate marketing in a fragmented retail landscape, largely comprising small, independent stores. Grigg creatively tapped into dive bars, positioning 7 Up as an ideal mixer for alcoholic drinks, much like ginger ale and tonic. This clever strategy helped establish 7 Up’s presence in the market.
7 Up’s Rise During World War II
Your knowledge of 7 Up wouldn’t be complete without understanding its role during World War II. Due to its low sugar requirement, 7 Up gained a competitive edge during the sugar rationing period, which severely impacted other soft drinks. The introduction of vending machines further boosted its availability. By the end of the war, 7 Up had become the third most popular soft drink in the U.S.
The 2006 Reformulation for Natural Claims
In 2006, 7 Up underwent a significant reformulation to market itself as “100% natural.” This change involved reducing sodium content and eliminating calcium disodium EDTA, replacing sodium citrate with potassium citrate. However, the use of high-fructose corn syrup led to controversies, and following a legal threat in 2007, 7 Up adjusted its marketing to focus on “100% Natural Flavors” instead of being completely natural.
7 Up Free
7 Up Free, the sugar-free version of this popular soda, is still a favorite in countries like the UK, Ireland, Norway, Argentina, Iceland, Finland, Uruguay, and Pakistan. It stands out for having no sugar, artificial flavors, caffeine, or coloring. If you’re a 7 Up enthusiast, trying the 7 Up Free variant on your travels might be a refreshing experience.
Is Lithium in 7 Up A Mood Stabilizer?
The inclusion of lithium citrate in 7 Up is a testament to the era’s approach to health and wellness. This ingredient, a compound used in the treatment of various psychiatric conditions, gave 7 Up a unique position in the market as a beverage with supposed health benefits. Lithium citrate remained a component of 7 Up until 1948, aligning with the common practice of incorporating medicinal elements into consumer products during that time.
7 Up’s formula has evolved significantly since its inception. Initially, it was labeled with seven ingredients, including sugar, carbonated water, lemon and lime essences, citric acid, sodium citrate, and lithium. These components highlighted the drink’s complex flavor profile and its unique selling proposition as a beverage with mood-enhancing capabilities.
Transitioning from a mood-enhancing concoction to a popular soft drink, 7 Up’s journey reflects changes in consumer preferences and regulatory standards. The removal of lithium citrate in 1948 followed the FDA’s prohibition of the substance in soft drinks, marking a significant shift in the beverage’s composition and marketing strategy.
Health Concerns and Modern Formulation of 7-Up
In recent times, health concerns around soft drinks like 7 Up have been highlighted. With 140 calories, 45 milligrams of sodium, and 38 milligrams of sugar per serving, modern 7 Up variants, including flavored ones like 7 Up Cherry, raise concerns about their impact on health, particularly relating to sugar content and calorie count.
After the FDA’s ban in 1948, lithium was removed from 7 Up’s formula. This change marked the end of an era where soft drinks often contained substances with medicinal properties. The removal of lithium citrate from 7 Up mirrored a broader movement towards more stringent regulations of food and beverage ingredients.
Health Risks Of Drinking 7Up Today
The consumption of 7 Up today, while free from its original mood-stabilizing ingredient, lithium citrate, still poses various health risks primarily due to its high sugar and artificial ingredient content:
- One of the main ingredients in 7 Up is high fructose corn syrup (HFCS). 7 Up contains 38 grams of sugar per can, significantly exceeding the American Heart Association’s daily sugar limit of 25g for women and 36g for men. High sugar intake, especially in the form of HFCS, has been linked to various health issues. Studies, like those conducted at Princeton University, have shown that HFCS can contribute to weight gain and an increase in visceral fat, which is associated with metabolic syndrome and increased cardiovascular disease risk. The high sugar content in 7 Up not only contributes to obesity but can also lead to other health concerns such as raised blood sugar levels, high blood pressure, and triglycerides, all of which are risk factors for heart disease.
- 7 Up also contains EDTA (Ethylenediaminetetraacetic Acid), a chelating agent used to improve shelf life and prevent discoloration. While the FDA deems EDTA safe, it’s a synthetic compound made from formaldehyde, sodium cyanide, and ethylene diamine. There are concerns about its long-term effects on health, including the depletion of vital nutrients and potential toxicity. Side effects can range from headaches, migraines, and gastrointestinal discomfort to more severe long-term risks like kidney damage.
- Regarding sodium content, 7 Up contains about 45mg of sodium per can, which is relatively low. However, excessive consumption of any soda, including 7 Up, can contribute to an overall high sodium intake, which is a risk factor for hypertension and cardiovascular diseases.
- The calorie content in 7 Up (140 calories per can) primarily comes from sugars. Consuming high-calorie, sugar-rich beverages can contribute to weight gain if it leads to an overall caloric surplus in your diet. The empty calories in 7 Up offer little nutritional value and may lead to increased calorie consumption without the feeling of satiety.
- There is emerging evidence to suggest that high-sugar diets can exacerbate acne. Since 7 Up is high in sugar, it could potentially worsen acne for individuals prone to this skin condition. The link between diet and acne suggests that stabilizing blood sugar levels by reducing the intake of high-glycemic foods and beverages like 7 Up may help in managing acne.
- While 7 Up is free from artificial colors and caffeine, its high sugar content places it among the less healthy options in the spectrum of carbonated beverages. In comparison, it may be slightly better than sodas with higher sugar content or those containing artificial dyes, but it still poses similar health risks due to its sugar content.
The transformation of a well-known lemon-lime soda from its medicinal origins to a modern soft drink reflects broader changes in consumer awareness and regulatory standards. Initially formulated with lithium citrate, a compound known for stabilizing mood, this beverage mirrored the era’s trend of blending medicinal ingredients with consumer products. However, as awareness of health implications grew, such elements were phased out, leading to the current formulation we know today. Despite shedding its medicinal components, the soda still presents health concerns, primarily due to its high sugar content