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Bulloch History with Roger Allen - Soda arrives in Statesboro
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Roger Allen

    In 1767, Englishman Dr. Joseph Priestley developed the process by which one could flavor water beverages. His first flavors included sarsaparilla, birch bark, dandelion and several fruit-flavored drinks. Although Swedish chemist Torben Bergman developed the process to carbonate water, it wasn’t until 1832 that American John Waters developed a machine capable of producing large quantities of carbonated soda water.
    All across America, the new fad caught on. In 1876, Charles Hires started selling his Herbal Roots and Berries Beverage (later called Hires Root Beer) in Philadelphia, and in 1885, Charles Alderton began selling Dr. Pepper’s Phos-Ferrates Beverage (later called Dr. Pepper) in Waco, Texas.
    Also in 1885, Dr. John Pemberton began selling his French Wine Cola beverage in Atlanta. Unfortunately for him, the sale of these wine beverages was soon outlawed. Undeterred, he created another concoction. This one he called Coca-Cola, which he made from coca extract, cola nuts and sorghum, among other ingredients. Each drink contained 8 1/2 milligrams of cocaine, which, when mixed with the cola nut’s caffeine, gave the drinker quite a kick. Willis Venable, known as the “Soda Water King,” began selling the beverage at his store on Peachtree Street.
    In 1893, Caleb Bradham of New Bern, N.C., created Brad’s Drink. Made from vanilla, pepsin, cola nuts and rare oils, Bradham decided to change the name of his beverage in 1898 to Pepsi Cola after he bought the name Pep Cola from a New Jersey bottler.
    In 1894, Statesboro residents were able to purchase soda in town when merchant J. Fields began selling them in his New York Bargain Store. In fact, within a few years, he and Dempse Barnes opened the Fields and Barnes Bottling Works plant in Statesboro. They began bottling Coca-Cola and other well-known brands after buying from the owners the syrup with which they made the beverages.
    In 1897, Bulloch County’s newspapers announced that B. Maul (first assistant fire chief) was now offering his customers “the very finest soda works apparatus” at Maul’s Bakery downtown. Shortly thereafter, he began selling his baked goods as well as soda waters from his Bread Wagon, which traversed the city’s streets daily selling his wares.
    In 1900, a third bottling facility began serving Bulloch County. The Cone and Parker Ice and Bottling Company opened in Brooklet and sold many flavors of soda water to area residents. After Fields sold his interest in the Statesboro plant to Dempse Barnes, he began working with Cone and Parkers to sell his own latest concoction: Sea Island Ginger Ale.
    At this time, Mr. Hughes of Stillmore opened Statesboro’s own Cher’o Cola plant. Located between the Statesboro, Augusta and Northern Railway tracks and Willis Barnes’ place, it sat near Ollie Brannen’s General Store. General manager J.S. Rouse was kept busy supplying his customers with Cher’o Cola bottled soda water beverages. Eventually, Cher’o Cola was renamed Royal Crown Cola  and became the third-best selling soda in America, after Coca-Cola and Pepsi Cola.
    Roger Allen is a local lover of history. He provides a brief look at the area's historical past. Email Roger at

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