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.
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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?