I started working in quality control in 1981 at G Barraclough (soft drinks) Ltd in Bradford. (I left in 1983, the company was taken over by Princes in 1991.) My job involved checking sugar content and acidity of each batch, also weight and carbonation, during bottling. We also had to taste test each batch as we once bottled 1000 litres of strawberry cream soda without any flavouring.
Working in quality control I was interested in what went into the product. Concentrated fruit juices were diluted to the correct strength, pasteurised, and put into Tetra-Pak cartons. (The inside of each carton was sterilised with hydrogen peroxide, which reduces to oxygen and water, there was no preservative or any other additive.) Dilute to Taste drinks tncluded a combination of sodium meta-bisulphite and sodium benzoate to prevent growth of bacteria and extend shelf life. The preservatives had quite a strong flavour and this was especially noticeable in the blackcurrant flavour cordial where the flavour was 100% artificial. Carbonated drinks (fizzy pop) were sweetened with high fructose corn syrup (known as isomerose) and saccharin, flavoured with natural and artificial essences, and preserved with sodium benzoate.
I was never a fan of Coca Cola, the taste seemed unnatural and I knew from chemistry lessons that you don’t drink phosphoric acid, but I was curious about the difference between our product and the Real Thing. I was told that GeeBee Cola (like Pepsi Cola) used lime essence while Coca Cola uses lemon essence, but there were other differences Coca Cola was sweetened with cane sugar instead of corn syrup and it was free from articial sweeteners.