From the moment first non-alcoholic carbonated drinks appeared on the market, countless inventors, chemist, entrepreneurs and engineers tried to evolve the way those drinks are produced, packaged, transported and offered to the end users. However, wide presence of soft drinks around the world was mostly focused on two types of products – carbonated mineral water and carbonated sweetened drinks. Those sweetened drinks were used without restrictions and government regulations, eventually leading to the clear appearance of health issues that they cause – metabolic changes, tooth decay, sugar content problems, obesity, mental changes caused by caffeine and many others.
First examples of sweet soda drinks that contained no or very little sugar started appearing in 1950s and early 1960s. Those early products (“No-Cal “ by Kirsch Bottling, “Diet Rite” by Royal Crown Cola, diet drink by Dr Pepper) were all focused not to offer low-calorie drink to general consumers, but to offer refreshments to diabetics. However, because all those products were marketed locally and they did not targeted general population of dieters, the first success with any kind of diet soda drink happened in 1963 by Coca-Cola Company. Their first diet product was marketed as Tab, and it was a first drink of its type to become very popular across US. Today Tab is sold in many countries in the world, but on US territory Coca-Cola Company has focused much more on Diet Coke which was introduced in 1982.
After appearance of Coca-Cola’s “Tab”, other manufactures quickly rushed to the market with their own diet drinks – Pepsi with Patio Diet Cola (later renamed into current name Diet Pepsi), and Dr Pepper with Like which is today known as Diet 7 Up after its recipe was forcefully changed by US government that banned cyclamate sweeteners. This change of the name into “Diet 7 Up” in 1979 forced Coca-Cola Company to introduce new drink into worldwide market, which they did in 1982 with Diet Coke.
During 80s and 90s, diet soda drinks remained in popularity, with many variations of all these popular drinks receiving new tastes and flavors. In addition to traditional diet soda drinks, several alcohol companies elected to release sugar-free or "diet" alcoholic products on the market.
Today, manufacturers of diet drinks use artificial sweeteners to achieve similar taste, mouth-feel and aftertaste of regular soda drinks, although many users report that they can detect significant differences between these two types of drink products. Most popular artificial sweetener today is Aspartame (also known as NutraSweet) which is present in Diet Coke and many other diet products that want to offer alternative to sugar. Other alternatives to sugar are Cyclamates (banned in many countries), saccharin, sucralose and acesulfame potassium.