soda pop

Megan Harris / 90.5 WESA

Along the Allegheny River in an unassuming former car garage sits the 112-year-old Natrona Bottling Company. Established in 1904, the business has distributed thousands of glass bottles with their signature Red Ribbon Cherry Supreme, spicy ginger beer and mint julep.

Philadelphia has approved a tax on soda — and it's the first major U.S. city to do so. Now, a legal fight is brewing between the city and the soda industry.

The bill passed Philadelphia's City Council by a vote of 13-4.

Mayor Jim Kenney supported the tax. After the law passed, he called it "a historic investment in our neighborhoods and our education system."

When the mayor of Philadelphia first proposed a 3 cents-per-ounce tax on sugary drinks, the American Beverage Association was quick to finance a campaign railing against it.

Since March, records show that the industry has financed more than $4.2 million in media buys in Philadelphia to air ads aimed at turning public opinion against the proposal.

Philadelphia became the first major U.S. city to impose a tax on sugary drinks after its City Council voted on June 16 to approve a 1.5 cents-per-ounce surcharge on soda and other sweetened beverages.

Here is our original post from June 9:

What's included in the proposed new tax?

Philadelphia's new mayor wants to do something few American cities have done: pass a tax on soda and other sugary drinks.

So far, Berkeley, Calif., has been the only U.S. city to approve such a tax. That measure was aimed at reducing soda consumption (and the negative health effects that go along with drinking too much of it).

The Natrona Bottling Tradition

Aug 20, 2014
Marcus Charleston / WESA

Whether it’s called soda or pop, consumers can’t get enough of the sweet, carbonated beverage. Here in Pittsburgh the Natrona Bottling Company has been making its brand of specialty beverages for quite some time. In fact, this year marks the company’s 110th anniversary. Vito Gerasole, the “Sultan of Soda,” explains that Natrona’s dedication to product -- rather than profit -- is what makes its drinks so distinctive. For instance, Natrona still puts its sodas in glass bottles, and it uses real sugar instead of high fructose corn syrup.

“Basically, we want to give you a good quality product that was produced 110 years ago. Our machinery is 70 years old. … No other soda producer uses this style of carbonation. … This is our defining factor.”