During the 20th century, most soft drinks in America were boosted with something other than sugar.
We all know Coca-Cola started with a dash of cocaine to give consumers a “lift”; Pepsi contained pepsin, a digestive enzyme; and Dr Pepper was marketed as a “brain tonic.”
Then there was 7-Up.
Originally named “Bib-Label Lithiated Lemon-Lime Soda,” 7-Up was created by Charles Grigg of the Howdy Corporation in 1929. It was initially was marketed as a hangover remedy because it gave people a bit of a lift. Grigg once joked that he invented the drink to cure the “7 types of hangovers” humans experience.
The lift in question was directly caused by one of the seven original ingredients — a pinch of lithium citrate.
And what would lithium in your soda do for you?
Lithium citrate is a mood-stabilizing drug, popular in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Studies have shown that populations with a raised lithium intake report less depression and lower suicide levels. It is still used to treat manic episodes in patients with bipolar disorder.
So why doesn’t 7-Up still contain lithium? Well, in 1948 the U.S. government outlawed lithium in sodas because of its many side effects. 7-Up was reformulated into the fizzy lemon-lime drink we know today. The only addictive thing in it now is sugar.
But hey, a little sugar never hurt anyone, right?