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As for all the windy waters,
They were rained like tempests down
When good drink had been dishonoured
By the tipplers of the town;
When red wine had brought red ruin
And the death-dance of our times,
Heaven sent us Soda Water
As a torment for our crimes

(from) The Song of Right and Wrong G. K. Chesterton

Basic Information

Borrowed from the Americans soda is a useful generic term for any carbonated soft drink. Originally it referred to the soda water used as a mixer for various alcoholic spirits, but now it covers an extremely wide range indeed.

In the modern era, sodas tend to be heavily sugared and loaded with caffeine and assorted other flavourings and additives. As a result most of them also tend to be highly acidic to retard the growth of bacteria etc. that would normally thrive in such a nutrient rich environment. When retailed (and not generated for dispensing) they are typically sold in either pressure sealed glass bottles or in metal cans. The bottle was the default in the early 20th century but has been increasingly superseded by cans in most locations due to greater ease of handling. The plastic bottle has also arisen and is both the default choice for large quantities of soda and a competitor with cans for smaller volumes.

They are also typically heavily branded and marketed by their manufacturers - some brands, such as Coca Cola selling world wide whilst others are confined to very specific regions (sometimes only part of a single country). Often someone will be marketting a generic brand as an 'identical substitute' for a big name brand … motivation may vary, but for one reason or another they are rarely sucessful.

There are also a variety of niche products, including brands that emphasise their content of caffeine and other stimulants (usually called "energy drinks"), brands asserted to contain beneficial herbs and minerals and marketted as health drinks (which, after all, is how Coca Cola started out), and "sports drinks" alleged to provide fast rehydration and energy replenishment during excercise. The user's mileage may vary.

Despite not being a particularly healthy option under normal circumstances there are plenty of locations worldwide where, given that the local water is not reasonably potable, it may be the best option. It is also a useful expedient source of acids - for cleaning purposes or to dissolve bones and the like and will serve as a reasonable re-hydrating drink in case of diarrhea and similar gastro-intestinal complaints (possibly as a result of drinking the local water in the first place). Reports of it being an effective emergency wound wash are unconfirmed, but the idea of using it as a subsitute for intravenous saline (even in the case of "isotonic sports drinks") should be firmly avoided to prevent the death of the casualty from systemic acidosis.

The term "soda" is by no means universal. Throughout much of the Midwest, "pop" is the predominating term for carbonated drinks. (Or in some cases, "soda pop"). In the south, "Coke" is often used as a generic term for all cola drinks. The UK will tend to refer to "fizzy drinks" - although "pop" is quite widely used (especially amongst older people), it can also refer to other carbonated drinks including fizzy beer.

See Also:


2. The Great Pop vs. Soda Controversy — with interactive maps!

Game and Story Use

  • Local brands make for local colour - equally, the PCs may find the brands from back home cropping up all over the place.
  • Having the local favourite be something truly foul can also be amusing - root beer is an excellent example: very popular in the US but often regarded as having a wierd, medicinal taste by Brits and Europeans.
  • The high sugar content may be useful when supplying anything that has a sweet tooth.
  • In a small community, a religious schism is occurring between those who call it "soda" and those who call it "pop". A member of the party orders the wrong thing at a diner and gets branded a heretic. Can the party escape?
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