As a part of The Cocktail Story’s Drink and Know Things series, we present to you the Schweppes Tonic Water history, a story of the world’s first carbonated beverage company in the world.
Schweppes – meeting our carbonated beverage needs since 1783
- Story of Schweppes, Indian tonic water and the man who invented the multi-billion dollar aerated beverages industry
Schweppes Tonic Water HISTORY : EARLY Days
When we think of tonic water, the first name that comes to our mind is Schweppes Tonic Water. The quintessential tonic water has a long and celebrated history.
Before we look into the tonic water history, it is imperative to know about the man responsible for the company behind Schweppes Tonic Water. Schweppes was started in 1783 when the Jeweller and watchmaker Jacob Schweppe perfected the art of carbonation in Geneva, Switzerland with what is considered the first aerated soft drink in the world.
Interestingly, initially, Jacob used to give away the “medicated water” to doctors for free, into what has now turned into a multi-billion dollar bubbles empire. The drink that Jacob Schweppes invented was prescribed by leading doctors as “a safe and cooling drink for persons exhausted by much speaking, heated by dancing or crowded assemblies”¹.
In fact the term soda water first appeared in schweppes advertisement in 1798. Starting 1809, the carbonated mineral water was bottled in “Hamilton” bottles which were the first of its kind bottle to retain carbonation. These bottles which had to be stored on their side, ensuring the cork remained expanded through the moisture so as not to let out of any of the precious gases. These revolutionary bottles helped catch the “thunder bolt” like effervescence. Customers called these bottles ” thunder bolts because these were the first bottles to retain carbonation. The modern day Schweppes bottles still carry this design legacy.
Schweppes Tonic Water History : The Royal Patronage
In 1836, King William the fourth bestowed Schweppes a royal warrant of appointment making it the main purveyor of sparkling water to the royal family. Schweppes has since been honoured with Royal warrant of appointment by all British Monarchs with the exception of King Edward VIII. The iconic Schweppes tonic water logo with the fountain dates back to the 1851’s Great Exhibition at The Crystal Palace in Hyde Park in London. The logo is a replica of the 27 foot tall glass fountain that Schweppes installed.
Schweppes Tonic Water
The Schweppes Tonic Water was launched in 1870 and it is considered to be the world’s first carbonated tonic water.
The quinine enriched water was provided to Britishers in India as an antidote for malaria. The britishers used lime and gin to cut the bitter flavour of the tonic. This practice along with Schweppes tonic water is what gave rise to the gin and tonic as we know it in the modern times.
Iconic Advertisements in the Schweppes Tonic Water History
Schweppes has reached its global dominance in tonics, club sodas, ginger ales, and lemonades not only through brilliant innovations, but it has also taken advantage of a number of iconic advertising campaigns. Tonic water history and the success of Schweppes tonic water is intricately linked to multiple imaginative advertising campaigns.
During the 1920’ and 30’s, a range of classic William Barribal posters were used. Schweppes was amongst the first to use pin-up girls in it’s posters in the 1920’s These posters are now a part of the iconic pop culture. During the Second World war, when Schweppes vanished from retail shelves they continued advertising to reassure that Schweppes would be back soon with victory in the War.
In 1946, to mark the end of the War and appearance of Schweppes on retail shelves, the iconic “Schweppervescence” advertisement campaign was launched with the unique word being used to describe the unique bright and effervescent quality of Schweppes. Schweppes followed that advertisement masterstroke with befitting prodigies including the mystical land of ‘Schweppeshire of the 50’s, an imagined dreamland.
Schweppes Tonic water in India
Even though the international line-up of Schweppes of over 50 products include a wide range of sodas, bitter lemons, tonics, Cordials, fruit sodas, lemonades amongst others, India has a limited line-up. Schweppes was introduced in India in 1999 by Coca-Cola after the global takeover of Cadbury Schweppes. Despite Schweppes controlling a lion’s share of the tonics market, India has a limited range of Schweppes products available including tonic water, ginger ale, sugar-free tonic water, dry ginger ale and club sodas.