Soft drink

A soft drink is a drink that does not contain alcohol, as opposed to a hard drink, which does. In general, the term is used only for cold beverages. (Hot chocolate, tea, and coffee are not considered soft drinks. Carbonated milk would probably not be considered a soft drink.) The term originally referred exclusively to carbonated drinks, and is still commonly used in this manner.

Missing image
Soft drinks in a Virginia supermarket


Bubbles in a carbonated soft drink
Bubbles in a carbonated soft drink

Soft drinks are commonly sold in stores in bottles and cans. They are also sold in restaurants and bars as fountain drinks made from syrup that comes in a special bag called a Bag-In-Box (BIB). In the U.S. and other countries, vending machine sales earn a significant amount of money for the producers and distributors. Most famous name-brand soft drinks are produced and bottled by local or regional independent bottling companies. These companies license the name and are usually sold the main ingredients (syrup) made by the main manufacturing plants of the trademark holders. For example, unless you live in Georgia, USA, or nearby, a can of Coke® will likely be from a facility near the point-of-purchase. In the past, most Cola and other soft drinks were sweetened with ordinary sugar (sucrose), but to save on production costs (due to high sugar tariffs imposed on sugar imported into the United States), most companies have turned to the more economical corn syrup as a sweetener in the United States. In some countries outside the United States, sugar is still used. Competition in the industry among soft drink producers is widely referred to as the cola wars.

Diet soft drinks

In recent years, there has been a growing demand for alternatives to sugar-heavy soft drinks. "Regular" soft drinks, being largely processed sugar or corn syrup, have been blamed in recent years for contributing to obesity in the United States and elsewhere. Sugars, like other carbohydrates stimulate the production of the hormone insulin, which causes the body to store fat, rather than burn it. "Diet" soft drinks are sweetened with chemicals, such as aspartame and saccharin, that are perceived as sweet by most people, yet do not stimulate insulin production or have any food energy or nutritional value.

Naming conventions

Pop vs. soda vs. coke in North America

In North America, "soft drink" commonly refers to cold, non-alcoholic beverages. Carbonated beverages are regionally known in the Midwest and most of Canada as "pop." In Quebec they are called soft drinks. In the Northeast, parts of the South (near Florida) and Midwest (near St. Louis), and California, they are known as "soda." In much of the South, they are generically called "coke". (Atlanta, Georgia is home to the Coca-Cola Company.) Internally, the Coca-Cola Company (and probably other such corporations) uses the term "non-alcoholic carbonated beverage".

The Pacific Northwest, being a melting pot of America, uses both "pop" and "soda". In some other areas these drinks are called "soda pop", while in and around Boston, Massachusetts, they are often called "tonic". See The Great Pop vs. Soda Controversy ( for maps and geographical trends.

At many restaurants in the U.S., one finds that the products of only a single major beverage producer, such as The Coca-Cola Company or PepsiCo, are available. While a patron who requests a “coke” may be truly indifferent as to which well-known cola brand he receives, the careful order taker will confirm intent with a question like “Is Pepsi OK?” Similarly, “seven-up” may indicate whichever clear, carbonated, citrus-flavored drink happens to be at hand. The generic uses of these brand names does not affect the local usage of the words "pop" or "soda", to mean any carbonated beverage.

Names in other regions

In German, soft drinks are known as Limo short for Limonade, the German word for lemonade, but in America lemonade is an uncarbonated beverage, generally not considered a soft drink. Some regions also use Sprudel (from sprudeln=to be fizzy) for carbonated non-alcoholic drinks.

In Greece, the term Gazoza is used to refer to clear soft drinks such as 7-Up or Sprite.

In Brazil, soft drinks are called 'refrigerante', or sometimes just as 'refri'.

In Dutch, soft drinks are called frisdrank ('fresh drink'), a word coined in 1956 by adman Dick Schiferli.

In Swedish, soft drinks are called läsk which comes from läskande drycker (roughly — refreshing drinks) and denotes carbonated non-alcoholic soft drinks. In northern Sweden the word dricka (drink) is often used. The word lemonad has more or less the same use as the English word lemonade, but belongs to a slightly higher level of style than läsk. In Finland-Swedish lemonad is more common and refers to all kinds of carbonated soft drinks, läsk (or läskedryck) is also used. Many people, both Finnish and Swedish speakers, also uses the word limsa.

In Norwegian, carbonated soft drinks are called brus, which means "fizz". It is a truncated form of the now obsolete bruslimonade.

In Australia and New Zealand, "soft drink" almost always refers to carbonated beverages. "Lemonade" can refer to "lemon drink", but most of the time means clear soft drink (for example, Sprite, 7-Up, etc.)

In Canada, "pop" refers to a carbonated soft drink. "Soda" is very infrequently used.

In India, soft drinks go by a variety of names including "juice", "soft drinks", "cold drinks" and "cool drinks". "Soda" in India refers generally to carbonated water and not artificially flavored, carbonated beverages.

In Ireland, soft drinks are referred to as "minerals". Lemonade is also a generic term for a fizzy drink, and comes in two varities — red and white. Red lemonade is similar to the Scottish drink Irn-Bru, and is popular both as a drink for kids and as a mixer for spirits.

In the United Kingdom the term originally applied to carbonated drinks ("pop") and non-carbonated drinks made from concentrates ("squash"), although it now commonly refers to any drink that does not contain alcohol. To further confuse matters, alcopops are often called "alcoholic soft drinks". The term "pop", once popular as a generic term for soft drinks is now mainly restricted to the north of England.

In the West of Scotland, soft drinks are commonly known as "ginger", presumably referring to an early "soft drink", ginger beer. Carbonated drinks are also known as "juice" in some locations.

In Japan, soft drinks are commonly referred as "juice" and younger generations refer as "drink", a shortened term for "PET-bottle drink". Non-carbonated drinks capture the majority of soft drink market and their main rivals are variety of bottled green tea and tea. Canned and bottled coffee has equally large market share and carbonated drink market is smaller in contrast to other nations. Coca-Cola split the carbonated market with Mitsuya Saidaa, a sweet clear carbonated drink, and Pepsi lags behind these two entering the market only in the 90s. Lime flavored drink (Mountain Dew and Sprite) holds almost no market share or marketed with only a touch of lime flavor. The official name for such drinks in documents and labels are Seiryo Inryo Sui (清涼飲料水) and those carbonated are called Tansan Inryo (炭酸飲料).

In Mexico, soft drinks are called "sodas" in the north. In central and southern Mexico, they are called "refrescos", and less frequently "gaseosas".

List of soft drinks (by country)






It should be noted that most soft drinks in Canada not labeled as 'cola' cannot contain caffeine. Dr Pepper is a notable exception.


  • Feichang Cola (Cola, similar to Coca Cola and Pepsi)
  • Jianlibao (orange flavored soft drink with some Chinese herbal ingredients)
  • Smart (Coca-Cola Company; soft drinks of various fruit flavors such as apple, watermelon, grape, peach, coconut, etc.)

Czech Republic

  • Kofola (special cola flavoured with herbs)










Words in italic indicate that they are written in a combination of Japanese scripts.




Sports drink




  • Kinnie (Black-orange with bitter)


  • Chaparrita (variously flavoured soft drinks in small bottles)
  • Pascual Boing (concentrated sweetened fruit juice).
  • Peñafiel (natural sparkling flavoured mineral water).
  • Sidral Mundet (apple soft drink).
  • Titán (gooseberry flavoured soft drink).
  • Jarritos (similar to Jones Soda, various flavors and in bottles).
  • Fanta (orange and strawberry soft drinks).
  • Mirinda (orange drink soft drink).
  • Manzanita Sol (apple soft drinks).

New Zealand



  • Inca Kola (Yellow colored and a bubble-gum or fruity taste)
  • Kola Inglesa (Red coloured; literrally "English Kola" reference to messengers and cola nuts, but strawberry-flavoured and represented by a red-cheeked pale and cheeky face.)
  • Kola Real


  • Borsec mineral water
  • Dorna mineral water
  • Frutti Fresh (fruity soft drinks, variety of flavors)
  • Clever (fruity soft drinks, variety of flavors)
  • Prigat (fruity soft drinks, variety of flavors)


  • Kvass, a low-to-non alcoholic beverage made from fermented grains.




Sports drink


  • Kofola (special cola flavoured with herbs)
  • Vinea (soft drink with the taste of wine)

South Africa

  • Appletize (apple flavoured soft drink)
  • Grapetize (grape, red and white, flavoured soft drink).



  • Enbärsdricka (Traditional stout-like, very sweet soft drink)
  • Svagdricka (Traditional stout-like, soft drink similar to Kvass)
  • Julmust (Traditional stout-like, very sweet seasonal soft drink)
  • Sockerdricka (Traditional sweet-sour soft drink)
  • Fruktsoda (Traditional lemon-lime soft drink)
  • Champis (Soft drink alternative to sparkling wine)
  • Pommac (Soft drink alternative to sparkling wine)
  • Cuba Cola (Cola)


South Korea


United Kingdom

United States


Puerto Rico

  • Coco Rico, (Coconut-flavored soft drink)
  • Kola Champagne (despite a name that suggest an alcoholic drink, Kola Champagne is actually a soft drink)
  • Old Colony, (soft drink that is produced in grape and pineapple flavors)


Mixed soft drinks

  • a float is created by dropping a scoop of ice cream into a soft drink.
  • a graveyard / suicide / pop bomb is made by mixing many soft drinks together, usually from a soda fountain.
  • In Australia, a scoop of icecream in a soft drink is known as a Spider.

External links

fr:soda ja:ソフトドリンク nb:Brus nn:Brus pl:Napój bezalkoholowy sv:Läskedryck


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