1878 First Schweppes factory in Australia

Johann Jacob Schweppe, a Swiss watchmaker and amateur scientist, didn’t invent fizzy drinks, but he was the first to see their commercial potential. The Schweppes brand is now more than 240 years old and still going strong.

Intrigued by the work of Englishman, Joseph Priestly, who was the first to develop a process to add carbon dioxide to water, Schweppe abandoned his profession to perfect an apparatus that could put this bubbling liquid into bottles. Initially, he gave his waters away to doctors because of their supposed health-giving qualities. In 1783, in Geneva, he began the world’s first large-scale production of artificial mineral water.

Moving his business from Geneva to London in 1792, Schweppe first promoted his bottled waters for medicinal purposes. Encyclopedia Brittanica quotes a letter describing the three varieties:

J. Schweppe prepares his mineral waters of three sorts. No. 1 is for common drinking with your dinner. No.2 is for nephritick patients and No. 3 contains the most alkali given only in more violent cases.

It took some time for Schweppe’s waters to catch on and it was only after King William IV appointed the company as suppliers to the Crown, ten years after the maker’s death, that they became popular. The bottled drinks were likely imported to New South Wales from the 1830s onwards – Schweppes Soda Water was certainly being advertised by the early 1850s.  By 1873, the range had expanded to include Malvern Seltzer Water, Patass Water (specially recommended for Gout, Rheumatism etc.), Lemonade and Tonic Water, as well as the original Soda. Advertising assured customers that:

J. S. and CO., beg to inform consumers residing abroad that their Mineral Waters, which continue to enjoy such universal reputation, are prepared with special care for export, thereby insuring their condition on arrival. For convenience of transmission the above are usually packed in casks, each containing 10 dozen.

The original Schweppes bottles were torpedo-shaped and could not stand upright. They were packed in straw to withstand the rigours of the sea voyage. The popularity of Schweppes drinks in the colonies led to the opening of the company’s first Australian factory, in Sydney. In 1882, a second factory began operations in Melbourne.

The range of drinks continued to expand with a range of fruit juice cordials added in the early 1900s. One of these, an orange juice cordial named Palarino, provoked a court case in the 1940s. Schweppes sent undercover agents out to trap bartenders who substituted their own cordials when customers asked for a “gin and Palarino”.

The term “Schweppervescence” was coined by the UK advertising agency, S.T.Garland, in 1945 and was soon used in Australia. For decades, advertising carried the line “Schweppervescence lasts the whole drink through”.

Bringing together various interstate operations, Schweppes (Australia) Ltd was formed in 1952 and eight years later was converted to a public company. In 1971, a merger with Cadbury Fry Pascall Australia Ltd created the Australian operation of Cadbury Schweppes. Both before and after the merger, the company expanded by gobbling up local soft drink brands, including some with a heritage reaching back to the 1850s. Among the popular brands that eventually vanished into the Cadbury Schweppes maw were Tarax and Tristrams.

Schweppes in Australia is now owned by the Japanese drinks company, Asahi Beverages.

This website uses cookies but doesn't share them.