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Soda Bottle Caps
By Euphrates
Soda Bottle Caps

Soda (or "pop", depending on where you were raised) first elbowed fruit juice out of the way on store shelves in the late 1800s, creating a poor but popular alternative to water and a number of popular collectibles including bottles, cans, pull tops, and bottle caps.

The challenge of keeping carbonated beverages fizzy until the customer was ready to consume them was solved in 1892 when William Painter created the Crown Cork Bottle Seal. Cork had been used to seal bottles well before Painter's invention, but he improved the method by crimping the cork on the bottle with a steel cap, a practice that is still in use today. The cork lining was replaced by plastic during the '60s.

In the early '60s beverages began to be produced in aluminum cans sealed with removable pull ring tabs. For the next 20 years the ground would be littered with them, along with bottles and bottle caps. This issue was immortalized in Jimmy Buffett's "Margaritaville." In an effort to clean up abandoned empties The Bottle Bill was passed. The Bottle Bill required a deposit on bottled soft drinks, which could be refunded when the empty was returned. The return generally only produced a few pennies, but at the time there were whole aisles of penny candy, so children became the most conscientious citizens when it came to recycling. In the '70s aluminum recycling began in earnest and soon a child had two revenue streams that could be turned into trading cards and Sweet Tarts.

In the mid-1970s stay on tabs were invented. The tab folded underneath the lid, leaving an opening for the soda. Another invention in the '70s that changed the shape of soda storage was plastic bottles with resealable caps. Now a cola could be nursed for several days like a gallon of milk. Plastic bottles quickly ballooned to 2 liters, laying the groundwork for the 64 ounce soda fountain cup 25 years later.

In the late 1800s the first wave of soft drinks included modern soda staples Coca-Cola, Dr. Pepper, Shasta, Canada Dry & Pepsi. Since then thousands of brands and varieties of sodas have created. While there are many names the standard flavors have always been cola, orange, grape, strawberry, chocolate, lemon, lime and root beer. Here's a partial list of soda brands:

7up
A-1 Chocolate
Ace Root Beer
Anderson's
Artic Club Creme
Aunt Mary's
B1
Baas Creme
Bar-B Orange
Bat Juice
Big
Big Chief
Big Top
Blatz
Botl-O
Bubble Up
Bull's Eye
Canada Dry
Cheer Up
Chiz
Choc Ola
Choclate Soldier
Cloverdale Sarsaparilla
Coca-Cola
Corky's
Crush
Dad's
Deri-Del
Dixie
Dr. Pepper
Fanta
Fook's
Fresca
Frosty
Get Up
Gill's
Help Good
Hi-Top
Hires Root Beer
Howdy
Hunters
Jurk
Kickapoo
King Bee
Kist Root Beer
Kreemo Root Beer
Lemmy Lemonade
Lord Maxwell
Lotta
Mission
Moxie
Nehi
Nesbitt's
NuGrape
Pal
Par-T-Pak
Pepsi-Cola
Polar
Royal Crown/RC Cola
Shasta
Spring Crest
Sprite
Sun-Rise
Sun Spot
Squeeze
Tom's
Tru-Ade
Tru Flavor
Variety Club
Vess
Vita
Whistle
Wishing Well
Yankee Doodle Root Beer
Yoo-Hoo
Yo-Yo

Note: In the 1970s you could buy fizzy candy in the shape of bottle caps. Bottle Caps came in grape, cola, orange, root beer, and lemon-lime flavors. Bottle Caps are available again courtesy of Nestle's Willy Wonka brand.

Collecting bottle caps is a very affordable hobby and doesn't take up much space. Most caps are sold for just a dollar or two. Of course every hobby has it's jewels and this one is no exception. Condition is key. Most used caps were wrenched off of the bottles with a bottle opener (also collectible!) and then discarded. This means that they are generally dented and may even have rust and paint loss. Unused or gently opened caps bring a premium. Clean caps made before 1950 or from obscure bottling companies or kitschy brands are also desirable.

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