How Did Guaraná Become Brazil’s National Soda?
Seth Garfield, Department of History, University of Texas at Austin
How was guaraná, a caffeine-rich, indigenous Amazonian cultivar once consumed largely in the Amazon and South American heartland, transformed into Brazil’s “national” soda? How did it become the star ingredient in a multibillion dollar industry? This paper looks at Brazilian print advertisements and newspaper columns from the 1920s through the 1940s, when the soda first gained popularity, identifying the gendered and racial images fundamental to the soda’s early marketing and consumption. In this vein, the soft drink’s early history embodies the promises and ploys of Brazilian nationalist thought and early industrial development.