This chapter discusses the history of youth beverages in America. Throughout much of early American history, children drank pretty much the same beverages as did their parents; alcoholic drinks were served to children sometimes, but not always, diluted. The temperance movement encouraged the development of unfermented juices, and the scientific discoveries of Louis Pasteur helped juice makers produce nonalcoholic fruit beverages. After World War II, beverages targeting youth increased as the so-called baby boom generation emerged. By far the most important children’s beverage was—and continues to be—milk. By the early twentieth century, nutritionists praised milk as the “perfect food,” especially for children. The dairy industry actively promoted the health benefits of milk with advertisements featuring robust, happy children thriving on pure, nutritious milk. As milk sales soared, entrepreneurs began developing products that could flavor milk in ways that appealed more to children. In 1926, Hershey’s Chocolate Syrup was introduced at soda fountains for use on ice cream as well as an additive to beverages; two years later, the retail version of the syrup went on sale. In 1927 Edwin Perkins of the Perkins Products Company in Hastings, Nebraska, developed a powdered concentrate to be sold in paper packets, which was eventually marketed as Kool-Aid. In 1957, researchers at General Mills came up with an orange-flavored, powdered breakfast-drink mix fortified with vitamins. Sold in jars, the new product was released in 1959 under the brand name Tang.
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