Carbonated Beverages are drinks that have had carbon dioxide added to them. Carbon dioxide is colourless and flavourless.
Carbonated Beverages have as their base either carbonated water or soda water - which are considered Carbonated Beverages in their own right. Usually flavour and sweetener are added. Such beverages are mostly water, 90% and up (diet ones can be 99% water.)
Water often has a trace amount of carbon dioxide in it anyway, but carbonated water is water that has been super-saturated with it, to create the pleasant bubbly sensation. When carbon dioxide mixes with water, it forms carbonic acid:
CO2 + H2O = H2CO3
It's this acid that creates the tingling on your tongue.
You can also make any drink you want a fizzy drink, such as juices, teas, or wines, by the addition of some carbonated water. Technically, a gin and tonic, and even beer count as a Carbonated Beverage, but most people would consider them another category because Carbonated Beverage generally indicates a non-alcoholic beverage.
The maximum amount of carbon dioxide that can get into water is 8 g per litre. The excess carbon dioxide will generally only stay in water when the water is under pressure. Once the pressure is released (i.e. normal atmospheric pressure on the earth is restored), the carbon dioxide will start to escape. Once a bottle or can of a Carbonated Beverage is opened, giving the carbon some way to start escaping, it will, causing the beverage to go flat. You don't have enough pressure to hold excess carbon dioxide in side you either -- that's why you burp.
It is easier to carbonate a liquid when it is cold, and under pressure.
There are various home devices that can be used to make carbonated beverages. They use pressurized C02 cartridges to force the carbon dioxide into a liquid. Some counter top ones have repeat-use cartridges in them, with 1 cartridge doing up to the equivalent of 200 cans of fizzy drink. A seltzer bottle cartridge is a single use cartridge.
To make a drink with carbonated water from a seltzer bottle, you put some syrup or wine in a glass, and add a blast of carbonated water from the seltzer bottle.
Originally, Carbonated Beverages were seen as healthy, or a way to distribute healthful concoctions or distillations in a way that made them pleasant and convenient to drink. Carbonated Beverages were marketed as a digestive aid as late as the 1950s. Then, they came to be seen as junk food as the term essentially came to mean "soda pop."
Now (2007), parts of the Carbonated Beverages industry are trying to rebrand themselves as Energy drinks, and natural drinks such as water, juices and various teas have been carbonated.
Possibly the first Carbonated Beverage to be sold in a can was Cliquot Club brand ginger ale, in 1938.
But, the problem of the carbonation eventually forcing itself out through the seams on the cans wasn't entirely solved, so bottles were still used. By 1948, though, Pepsi was selling some of its pop in cans; Vernors Ginger Ale and Dr Pepper appeared in cans in 1955. The pace of everybody moving to cans was slowed down by the Korean war, as the government wanted the steel and tin used at the time. But aluminum beverage cans rolled off the manufacturing lines in 1963, made by Reynolds Metals Company. Within 4 years, Pepsi and Coke had made the shift to aluminum.
Pepsi was the first to introduce multi-packs of cans, selling 12 cans of Pepsi in a package, in 1972.
Most Carbonated Beverages are now sold in cans: the other alternatives are plastic bottles, and glass bottles.