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In short, it’s too late to put the soft-drink genie back into the bottle. For better or worse, carbonated beverages long ago became a staple of the American diet.

Bottled soda water has been manufactured in the United States since 1835, according to the American Beverage Association. Root beer arrived on the scene in 1876, followed by the first cola-flavored beverage five years later.

The soft drink is as American as hot dogs and apple pie (and goes well with both).

Whether temporarily dependent on government aid or not, Americans should be able to reach for a Coke, Pepsi, Dr Pepper, or Mountain Dew — in diet or sugared versions — without Uncle Sam looking over their shoulder.

Terrence Scanlon, a former chairman of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, is president of Capital Research Center, a think tank and watchdog organization in Washington, D.C.