There are still folks alive who remember when drinking soda was an event.
People had to go somewhere special to get the stuff - drug store counters, soda shops, and such. And there was an actual profession dedicated to pouring the drinks. They were called soda jerks. And they're probably best explained to younger people today as sort of like baristas, but with funny hats.
The soda jerk all but disappeared along with poodle skirts and Edsels. But his extinction had less to do with changing fashions than it did with developments in packaging. Aluminum cans of soda began to spread to stores throughout the 1960s. And then, in the early 1970s, the PET plastic bottles that we now see everywhere began to appear.
Things didn't change much after that until very recently. Suddenly, there are all new approaches to soda, and the two giants of the industry are at the fore of those changes. Here's a look at the three new ways we'll be drinking Pepsi and Coke products in 2015:
Made at home
There's little doubt that the biggest bit of news in the soda industry this year was that Coca-Cola had taken a stake in a leading maker of brew-at-home coffee machines: Keurig. And when Coca-Cola and Keurig announced they would jointly develop a countertop machine that could make Coke products at home, it seemed that soda had been reborn. Those new machines are due to arrive in stores in the fall of 2015.
Until then, the big player in at-home soda machines is SodaStream. And when Coke and Keurig announced a deal, analysts expected PepsiCo would do something similar with SodaStream. And sure enough, in October, PepsiCo announced it would begin testing its brands in SodaStream machines. As of today, only folks in Tampa and Orlando, FL, can buy Pepsi brands for use in the devices. But a wider rollout is expected in 2015, although recent comments from PepsiCo's CEO suggest that might not happen.
From mix and match machines
Coke and Pepsi brands are also fighting for market share with all new versions of the soda fountains found in foodservice and some retail operations. Both of the high-tech dispensers - Coke's Freestyle and Pepsi's Spire - have the same use: you can mix multiple brands and put them in your cup.
Perhaps most interestingly, these make-it-yourself machines are also rapidly being attached to the Internet, making it possible for your soda preferences to follow you around from location to location.
In mid-calorie versions
The biggest debut in soda in 2014 was certainly the much-anticipated Coke Life. The mid-calorie beverage, sweetened with a mix of stevia and sugar, proved popular overseas and in the initial test markets here in the U.S. So the soda is now rapidly making its way onto store shelves across the nation.
Most likely surprising no one, Pepsi announced it would debut its own sugar and stevia, mid-calorie brand, dubbed Pespi True. It's already available through Amazon, and is expected on store shelves in 2015.