There is something very, very bizarre about a can of soda.
How did this sugary, bubbly beverage – dark brown, or neon orange, or grape, or whatever color Mountain Dew is – how did THIS become such an influential force in American culture?
This is the strange and inconceivable story of how the modern soft drink was created. It's a story in four parts --
1) At the start of the 19th century, two dueling soda fountains in lower Manhattan would set the stage for a century of mass consumption.
2) Soft drinks weren't just tasty. For over a century, many believed they could provide a litany of cures to some of man's most vexing ills. It's from this snake-oil salesmanship that we get many of today's top soft-drink brands.
3) Coca-Cola may pride itself on its 'secret formula', but in fact that formula has frequently changed since the 1880s, when a Confederate war veteran first invented this magical brew mixing three exotic ingredients -- cocaine, wine and kola nut.
4) Soft drinks have professed to relieve many physical ills. By the 1950s they even attempted to promote weight loss. But the rise of diet drinks sparked a marketing war with manufacturers of one of their most reliable (and delicious) ingredients.
The Black Crook is considered the first-ever Broadway musical, a dizzying, epic-length extravaganza of ballerinas, mechanical sets, lavish costumes and a storyline about the Devil straight out of a twisted hallucination.
The show took New York by storm when it debuted on September 12, 1866. This is the story of how this completely weird, virtually unstageable production came to pass. Modern musicals like Phantom of the Opera, Wicked, and Hamilton wouldn't quite be what they are today without this curious little relic.
WARNING: You may leave this show humming a little tune called "You Naughty, Naughty Men."
Featuring music by Adam Roberts and Libby Dees, courtesy the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts.