History of soft drinks

The rich water-supply of Hungary is legendary. Hungarians have the possibility of both swimming in waters and consume them. We are going to study the history of beneficial mineral waters and the soda-water – its maiden name was ‘szikvíz’ that means ’alkaline-water’ – and that of soft drinks made by the socialist industry.

The exploration of healthful effects of mineral waters dates back to the beginnings of bathing culture. As early as the 18th century, people tried to analyse healing waters. Queen Maria Theresa obliged urban doctors to write a registry and analyse chemically mineral waters.
Mineral water is defined as water coming from the same place as drinking water, but usually from protected artesian well or spring. As a result, a part of Hungarian piped drinking water is qualified as mineral water, and the majority of it is considered as spring-water, like the spring-water of Tettye.

Számolócédula. Pécsi Tettye forrás - 	Terleczky József, CC BY-NC-NDThe karst-spring of Tettye has been providing local people with excellent quality drinking-water and beer indirectly for hundreds of years. As of 1892, it is also available in the water-pipe network, but it was bottled for more than 40 years, since the 1910s. The fizzy Tettye Spring Beverage and Spa Water of Pécs (Pécsi Tettyei Forrás Üditő és Borvíz) was indispensable at homes and restaurants of Pécs. Its popularity was probably due to its motto as well: ‘Protective against infectious diseases’ – which can be seen in the calculating slip below.
Számolócédula. Előpataki elsőrendű gyógyvíz - 	Terleczky József, CC BY-NC-NDCalculating slips or bills appeared in the last third of the 19th century. Its golden age was during the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries, on the territory of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy primarily. This sheet of paper with picture functioned as an ad first of all, though one could use its verso for calculating. These sheets were printed in large quantities in order to introduce different goods and services, which was typical in this era.Our gallery also includes the advert of the still popular mineral water Kékkúti Theodóra. It was first mentioned as sour water written in a map that was made in the beginning of the 1800s.
According to the legend, it was the Byzantine Empress Theodora’s favourite drink, but one cannot get a proof for that. One thing is certain: first it was bottled under the name Anna-spring water of Kékkút. Later, the new owner of the spring created a new label and a spectacular poster, in order to boost business, but kept the original name and not in vain. Since that time, it became increasingly popular and was even awarded with golden medals at the sanitary exhibitions of 1912 in Paris and London. Its description says it has unique remedial effects and it is recommended in different inflammatory diseases.
Mohai Ágnes-forrás gyógyvíz üvegpalack 1880 - 	Magyar Kereskedelmi és Vendéglátóipari Múzeum, CC BY-NC-NDThe famous ‘Mohai Ágnes water’ was first analysed in 1810 and was called chalybeate water owning to its ferruginous contents. It is good for people suffering from liver and cardiovascular diseases. Interestingly, although most of our mineral and spring-waters – except for sour waters – flare in natural ways, they are enriched with carbonic acid from the beginnings. You can thank the spread of soda-water and the so-called ‘fröccs’ (spritzer) to Benedictine Ányos Jedlik, who made experiments with artificially fizzy water as early as 1826. The cheap large-scale production of soda is also connected to his name. Soda production and home-delivery had great traditions in Hungary.
Producing was undisturbed until the 1950s, when factories were nationalised and a new actor entered the market of the Hungarian soft drink industry. The Hazai Szikvízüzem (Domestic Soda Factory) started bottling the beverage Bambi in 1947. The fizzy drink was made of synthetic ingredients with orange taste and colour. Many people remembered just a kind of tarry taste instead of a characteristic orange taste, which could be explained by stale orange oil that was utilized. Besides Bambi, other drinks also appeared: Sztár, Utas beverage, Erdei Bambi, Traubisoda and Márka.
The relative ‘monopoly’ on the soft drink market could not last for a long time. In 1968, the Liquor Factory of Kőbánya started producing Coca-Cola and one year later the concurrent Pepsi arrived too. Ironically, the iconic Bambi was defeated by Pepsi finally.
The ‘retro-fever’ reached the soft drink production in the 2000s and beverages like Bambi, Márka and Traubisoda were traded again and are still available on the shop-shelves. Since then, Bambi – as a latent brand – is available only at few places (Ibolya Espresso). But you can see him in the Disney-film any time.

Translated by Zita Aknai