The History of 7UP and Charles Leiper Grigg

The Invention of a Lemon-Lime Soda

Liter bottles of 7UP on a grocery shelf
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Charles Leiper Grigg was born in 1868 in Price's Branch, Missouri. As an adult, Grigg moved to St. Louis and started working in advertising and sales, where he was introduced to the carbonated beverage business.

How Charles Leiper Grigg Developed 7UP

By 1919, Grigg was working for a manufacturing company owned by Vess Jones. It was there that Grigg invented and marketed his first soft drink, an orange-flavored drink called Whistle for a firm owned by Vess Jones.

After a dispute with management, Charles Leiper Grigg quit his job (giving away Whistle) and started working for the ​Warner Jenkinson Company, developing flavoring agents for soft drinks. Grigg then invented his second soft drink called Howdy. When he eventually moved on from ​Warner Jenkinson Co., he took his soft drink Howdy with him.

Together with financier Edmund G. Ridgway, Grigg went on to form the Howdy Company. So far, Grigg had invented two orange-flavored soft drinks. But his soft drinks struggled against the king of all orange pop drinks, Orange Crush. But he couldn't compete as Orange Crush grew to dominate the market for orange sodas.

Charles Leiper Grigg decided to focus on lemon-lime flavors. By October of 1929, he had invented a new drink called, "Bib-Label Lithiated Lemon-Lime Sodas." The name was quickly changed to 7Up Lithiated Lemon Soda and then again changed to just plain 7Up in 1936.

Grigg died in 1940 at the age of 71 in St. Louis, Missouri, survived by his wife, Lucy E. Alexander Grigg.

Lithium in 7UP

The original formulation contained lithium citrate, which was used in various patent medicines at the times for improving moods. It has been used for many decades to treat manic-depression. It was popular to go to lithium-containing springs such as Lithia Springs, Georgia or Ashland, Oregon for this effect.

Lithium is one of the elements with an atomic number of seven, which some have proposed as a theory for why 7UP has its name. Grigg never explained the name, but he did promote 7UP as having effects on mood. Because it debuted at the time of the stock market crash of 1929 and the onset of the Great Depression, this was a selling point.

The reference to lithia remained in the name until 1936. Lithium citrate was removed from 7UP in 1948 when the government banned its use in soft drinks. Other problematic ingredients included calcium disodium EDTA which was removed in 2006, and at that time potassium citrate replaced sodium citrate to lower the sodium content. The company website notes that it contains no fruit juice.

7UP Goes on

Westinghouse took over 7UP in 1969. It then was sold to Philip Morris in 1978, a marriage of soft drinks and tobacco. The investment firm Hicks & Haas bought it in 1986. 7UP merged with Dr. Pepper in 1988. Now a combined company, it was bought by Cadbury Schweppes in 1995, a more likely marriage of chocolates and soft drinks. That company spun off the Dr. Pepper Snapple Group in 2008.

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Bellis, Mary. "The History of 7UP and Charles Leiper Grigg." ThoughtCo, Apr. 5, 2023, Bellis, Mary. (2023, April 5). The History of 7UP and Charles Leiper Grigg. Retrieved from Bellis, Mary. "The History of 7UP and Charles Leiper Grigg." ThoughtCo. (accessed May 28, 2023).