In 1834, while on his way to Peru, Manuel Román was shipwrecked off the coast of Colombia. Saved by local fishermen, he made his way to Cartagena, where he fell in love and decided to stay. In the colonial city center, Román opened Laboratorio Román, a pharmacy that introduced Colombians to the European fad of flavored carbonated waters around the turn of the 20th century. At the time, soda was considered a remedy meant to heal everything from fatigue to indigestion. The pharmacy sold Dry Kola, ginger ale, and a “champagne” soda called Kola Román, which was originally sourced from the United States. But in 1934, Henrique Román, Manuel's grandson, redeveloped the recipe into the vanilla-flavored soda that today can be found everywhere from beachside stands to high-end restaurants in the Old City.