From soda to pop to distilled water

( Shanghai Star ) Updated: 2014-08-14 17:28:25

From soda to pop to distilled water

Well-decorated carriages in the beginning of the 20th century. Photos provided to Shanghai Star

For about 150 years, this company has been associated with water in various forms. Wang Ying looks at how it started with carbonated water catering to Shanghai's foreign concessions and became a market leader in drinking water.

From soda to pop to distilled water

Back to the present 

From soda to pop to distilled water

Lady of the museum 

Its double wave logo has been a part of many people's daily lives in Shanghai for one and a half centuries. Most residents are familiar with Zheng Guang He's sweet and sour aerated water, and the city's first bottled water to be ordered by phone is also part of the city's collective memory.

In 1864, British businessman George Smith established Guanghe Yanghang in Shanghai selling imported wines and beer. Nineteen years later, the brand Zheng Guang He was created, with a start-up fund of 5,000 taels of silver, the equivalent of about 1 million yuan ($ 162,430) at current rates.

Zheng Guang He's three-character Chinese name means righteous, broad and peaceful, which also describes the company's corporate culture.

At the beginning, the company's owners just planned to bring carbonated water to the foreigners in Shanghai. To their surprise, the Shanghainese loved the fizzy water as well, and its skyrocketing popularity finally encouraged them to launch an aerated drinks company, Aquarius, in 1893.

Aquarius is the water bearer. The image for Aquarius in ancient Babylonian myth is a deity pouring water from a bottle. Thus, the name was both appropriate and vivid.

The company's factory was equipped with first-class facilities so it could produce high-quality aerated water and live up to the popularity of its drinks. The range of flavors was improved by imported equipment. Apart from its best-known lemonade, tomato juice beer and pineapple water also won nationwide reputation. These were exported to Britain, Australia and parts of the Far East.

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