Thursday, May 11, 2006
7-Up: Once Marketed as Hang-Over Cure
By ROGER M. GRACE
It was Charles Leiper Grigg, an albino, who invented a soft drink that became a worldwide favorite. He named it “Bib-Label Lithiated Lemon-Lime Soda.”
But that name somehow didn’t stick.
The concoction was first introduced into commerce on Aug. 7, 1928 by Grigg’s Howdy Company of St. Louis. That company was granted a federal trademark on Feb. 5, 1929 on what was by then called “Seven Up.”
The statement on the Dr Pepper/Seven Up website that “Grigg introduced his new soft drink two weeks before the stock market crashed in October 1929” is curious, being contradicted by information on file in the Patent and Trademark Office. This is a rare instance of a company claiming a later founding date for a product than that borne out by official records.
On Jan. 7, 1936, a variation on the name, “7 Up,” was registered. It was that same year that the Howdy Company became the Seven-Up Company.
And on Dec. 20, 1967, 7-Up was first marketed as “The Uncola.”
7-Up Lithiated Lemon Soda was initially sold as a Prohibition-era hang-over cure. An April 13, 1931 ad in a Pennsylvania newspaper, the Monessen Daily Independent, billed the drink as a counteractant to “Morning After Toxicity.” The ad advised that “Seven-Up neutralizes the acid blood—2 to 4 glasses soothes and smooths the ragged nerves.”
A California newspaper, the Woodland Daily Democrat, carried this item on July 30, 1932:
“By way of expanding service, Bill Ebell of the Woodland Ice & Bottling Works is distributing a new lithiated soda called ‘7 Up,’ said to be the last word as an antidote for ‘hang overs.’ In other words, ‘7 Up’ is good for one down.”
A Canadian newspaper, the Winnipeg Free Press, on March 30, 1935 carried an ad saying:
“7-Up dispels hangovers — takes the ‘ouch’ out of grouch. An internal bath of carbon dioxide is good for anybody—any time. Pour gently—fizzing lets the CO2 escape.”
Was there any validity to the claim? Probably not.
Even broader medical claims were made for 7-Up than it being a hang-over cure. An April 9, 1931 ad in the Monessen Daily Independent said:
“A doctor writes:
“ ‘By keeping the blood stream thoroughly alkaline, one has probably the finest protection against disease. An alkaline blood stream means an abundance of energy, enthusiasm, a clear complexion, lustrous hair and shining eyes.’
“Seven-Up Lithiated Lemon Soda is a beverage that you will like—that everybody likes, and it has positive alkaline reaction that tells its own story after three days’ use.”
“Lithiated” means that lithium has been added.
Lithium, a metalic element abbreviated “li,” is now used—in doses hundreds of times greater than that contained in 7-Up until 1950 when the ingredient was abandoned—to control mood swings. It’s recently been found to reduce cluster headaches.
But there are numerous side effects to lithium, including dizziness, drowsiness, nausea, tremors, weight gain and thyroid problems.
At the time Grigg’s “lithiated” soft drink went on the market, numerous other products were lithiated, including a supposed cure for rheumetism and a laxative.
Remember the commercials with the bored Maytag repairman (played by Jesse White) sitting by the phone, waiting for someone to call? The lawyer for the Seven-Up Company was, in the early days, probably in much the same position. Litigation over 7-Up didn’t arise much—in contrast to that which occurred in massive volume over Coca-Cola.
A case did arise now and then. In 1940, the Court of Customs and Patent Appeals affirmed a determination by the commissioner of patents that a soft drink called “Hy Up” was too close to 7-Up to be registered. The court found that it was “extremely probable that confusion in trade would result from the use of the respective marks.”
In 1978, Philip Morris, Inc. bought up a controlling interest in the Seven Up Company. As recited in a 1991 U.S. Tax Court opinion:
“Soon after acquiring Seven-Up, members of [Philip Morris’s] senior management inspected Seven-Up’s manufacturing facilities for the first time. They were surprised by the location and poor condition of the manufacturing facilities and by the ‘low-tech’ equipment used by Seven-Up to manufacture its extract (which was described as ‘stainless steel tubs with big paddles’ and as ‘a couple of bath tubs and a paddle.’)”
It was in 1986 that 7-Up was sold and was merged with Dr Pepper. Dr Pepper/Seven Up, Inc. has been owned by the British company Cadbury-Schweppes since 1995.
Copyright 2006, Metropolitan News Company
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