Hot Coca Cola

February 8, 2010 at 4:36 pm 7 comments

I saw this 1907 ad and all I could think was YUCK. Hot Coca Cola? There is nothing worse than that can of soda you forgot about, that sat on the counter all afternoon, and now its warm and flat and when you take a sip you sort of gag and pour the rest down the sink. And what else could “hot Coca Cola” taste like?

Well, dear reader, I am not afraid to take serious gustatory risks for your edification, so I tried it. But before I give you the hot Coke low down, maybe you’re wondering what I was wondering: why on earth would anyone even think of HOT Coke, for pete’s sake?

Soda fountains were hugely popular back at the turn of the century. Maybe you’ve seen an “old fashioned ice cream parlour” in a beach town or tourist destination. When I was a kid we had Farrell’s Ice Cream Parlor: black and white tile floors, ceiling fans, Victorian stained glass, cane back chairs, and about 200 kinds of ice cream and syrup concoctions. The soda fountains of 1900 were similar: cold soda drinks and ice cream novelties, served in a sit-down parlor. Ice cream and candy usually went together. In fact, the word “confectionery” was used to refer both to ice cream and candy! Basically, sweet stuff. Besides the sugar link, ice cream and candy would be combined for another practical reason: ice cream and soda were cold, and popular in the warm seasons. And candy, especially anything with chocolate, was strictly for the cooler months. No air conditioning, remember? So if you sold soda and candy, you could keep your business afloat year round.

And then someone came up with a solution to the seasonal limits on the soda fountain: hot soda. Why not offer hot drinks for the cold season, and keep the soda customers coming all year long? The idea was to use what was on hand, but make it hot. Hot chocolate was the obvious choice to anchor the menu. Then you had a lot of possibilities for hot liquid offerings (well, not all of these would be such a hit today: beef tea (boullion), beef and celery (beef tea with celery salt), beef and tomato (with ketchup), lactated beef or cream boviline (add sweet cream to beef tea, yikes!), hot lemon, hot ginger (ginger ale), hot ginger puff (add cream and whip cream), clam bullion, tomato bullion, chicken broth, oyster broth

Hot Coca Cola doesn’t seem so odd in the company of hot lemon and hot ginger and cream boviline. So was it any good?

The report from the Candy Professor test kitchen: Actually, hot Coca Cola is a nice hot drink! The candy kid nailed it: “It tastes the same, except it is hot.” The trick to enjoying it is that you have to stop anticipating the experience of cold soda. The bubbles boil out quickly as soon as you heat it, so it is not fizzy like cold soda. Imagine Celestial Seasons “Mandarin Orage Spice” with more cherry and plum, and then add about a cup of sugar, and that’s about how it tastes. Too sweet for me, but I don’t add sugar to my coffee or tea either.

Sources: “The Hot Soda Season,” Confectioners Journal Jan. 1908, p 102; “Making and Dispensing Hot Soda” Confectioners Journal Jan. 1909, p. 80.

Entry filed under: 1890 to WW I, Candy Nostalgia. Tags: , , .

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7 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Emily Catherine  |  February 9, 2010 at 9:51 am

    I absolutely love your blog! It is the best food-and-history blog I’ve found, and since food and history are my two favorite things on earth, I am pretty excited to have found it!

    • 2. CandyProfessor  |  February 9, 2010 at 10:36 am

      Thanks so much for the compliment! I’m glad you’ve found me, too. It’s nice to know the whole crazy project might actually work!

  • 3. Mark D.  |  February 12, 2010 at 12:38 pm

    Did you microwave the soda or heat it up on the stove? Sounds disgusting but I might try it. Coca-Cola is my favorite soda. Very interesting!

    • 4. CandyProfessor  |  February 12, 2010 at 2:34 pm

      Try it on the stove, you never know what will happen in the microwave! Let me know what you think, we may have discovered the next new-old thing!

  • 5. Emma  |  October 28, 2010 at 11:13 am

    In Hong Kong people actually regularly drink hot coca cola today. They drink it when they’re sick!

    My friends drink it when they’re hungover 🙂

    • 6. Candy Professor  |  October 28, 2010 at 11:14 am

      Great to know! It is pretty good.

      • 7. Sam  |  December 28, 2011 at 2:15 am


        I remember reading about the origin of hot Coca-Cola with lemon as an invention from inter-war period Shanghai. The Coke is heated in a saucepan with lemon slices, and served hot: it’s meant to be a home remedy for the onset of a cold. Some like to add fresh ginger slices as well, but sniffles or not it is a popular drink at “greasy spoon” diners, and of course makes a nice alcohol-free hot toddy.

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Candy: A Century of Panic and Pleasure

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Candy in American Culture What is it about candy? Here you'll find the forgotten, the strange, the curious, the surprising. Our candy story, one post at a time.

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