7UP is a lemon-lime soda invented in 1929, shortly before the Great Depression, by Charles Leiper Grigg.
At the time of its invention, it was not known as 7UP – it was called “Bib-Label Lithiated Lemon-Lime Soda”.
So, how and why did the original name change to 7Up?
To understand why the name was changed, we need to know a bit more about Charles Leiper Grigg.
At the time of 7UP’s invention, Grigg had already created two soft drinks named “Whistle” and “Howdy”. It must have been shocking to hear that Grigg called his new drink “Bib-Label Lithiated Lemon-Lime Soda”!
And there was a reason for this strange name.
7UP was originally released and marketed as an over-the-counter medicine. The original name reflected the inclusion of lithium citrate in the drink. People thought that lithium citrate can be used to help treat manic or bipolar disorders.
Lithium citrate was a mood-stabilizing drug and was an ingredient in the drink until 1948 when it was banned by many governments.
When lithium citrate was eliminated as an ingredient, the name was changed to “7 Up Lithiated Lemon Soda”, and later, to 7UP in 1936.
But how did Grigg come up with the name 7UP?
When the drink contained lithium citrate, consumers knew about the main ingredient in the drink. But when lithium citrate was eliminated, the name was no longer appropriate and would be confusing because that ingredient wasn’t used.
Grigg shortened the name from its tongue twister origins and called the drink “7 Up Lithiated Lemon Soda”. But that was still a mouthful, so he shortened it once more and simply called it “7UP”.
There are many theories on how 7UP got its name. Popular theories include:
- 7UP has 7 ingredients and the “UP” stands for lithium citrate (remember, it was used as a mood-stabilizing drug and people thought it brought your mood “up”);
- 7UP was bottled in seven-ounce bottles, as opposed to the six-ounce bottles that were common at the time;
- People thought the PH level (acidity level) of the drink was approximately 7. But that theory was debunked. 7UP has a PH level of about 3.8, on par with other sodas;
- A lesser-known theory speculated that the drink is called 7UP in reference to the atomic number of lithium, which is approximately 7.
Grigg never shared why 7UP was named 7UP. He left behind an interesting question that soda fanatics will argue over for the foreseeable future.
But, most likely, 7UP was named for the ingredients in it. Grigg likely drew inspiration from Coca-Cola, which notoriously contained cocaine during the earlier years when it was manufactured.
And it helps that the name is short, memorable, sticks in the minds of consumers, and has a positive connotation.
Today, 7UP continues to be popular as a makeshift remedy for congestion (one of those quirky at-home remedies that people swear works!) or a way to beat the heat during summer. 7UP is currently run by descendants of Grigg and Keurig Dr. Pepper currently owns it.
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