While a can of 7UP has the same amount of calories as a can of Sprite and boasts the same all-natural, lemon-lime flavor, they’re quite distinct from each other in a number of ways.
7UP was created back in 1929 by Charles Leiper Grigg. It’s changed quite a lot since then, when the soda was marketed as Bib-Label Lithiated Lemon-Lime Soda (quite a mouthful, no?). The original formula included the mood-stabilizing drug lithium citrate in its formula, which is still used to treat bipolar disorder and other mood disorders to this day (via Gizmodo). Some even believe the “7” in 7UP refers to the atomic mass of lithium, although it could just be in reference to the drink’s original seven ingredients.
Sprite, on the other hand, never included a mood stabilizing drug in its formula, and wasn’t even invented until 1959. It, like 7UP, had a much longer and clunkier name to begin with: Clear Lemon Fanta. Just two years after its formulation in West Germany, Sprite was introduced to the U.S. market to compete directly with 7UP. It’s owned by the Coca-Cola company. Today, 7UP is owned by Keurig Dr Pepper in the United States, and PepsiCo in the rest of the world.
And now the main differences. When it comes to formulation, one distinction often pointed out is the salt. Sprite uses sodium citrate in its formula, while 7UP uses potassium citrate. However, when it comes to taste, it can be less clear cut. As evidenced by multiple Reddit threads, some people can taste clear differences in the level of sweetness, tanginess, and carbonation between the two drinks, while others simply cannot tell the difference between the two at all.
I feel I can make out the difference in taste and I love both equally.