I hate soda. There, I said it. It makes me burp, and because I'm a girl, it's more embarrassing than funny. You'd think that since I'm not a fan of soda, I wouldn't be interested in investing in a soda company, but that's where you'd be wrong. With strong brands, high returns on equity, and attractive dividends, soda companies can make great investments. Let me tell you about three dividend-paying stocks you can't afford to miss.

Awww, cuddly little polar bears
Coca-Cola
(NYSE: KO) has been around for a long time and you may be thinking, "Why should I invest in it? It's waaay past its fast-growth days, right?" Well, here's the thing, with one of the strongest brands in the world, this company's not going anywhere. Plus, it has pretty decent sales growth year over year. If that's not enough, it also pays a growing dividend.

Coca-Cola

Sales ($M)

Sales Growth

Dividends Per Share

Dividend Growth

2010

$35,119

13.3%

$1.76

7.3%

2009

$30,990

(3%)

$1.64

7.9%

2008

$31,944

10.7%

$1.52

11.8% 

Not actually made from prunes
Dr. Pepper Snapple Group
(NYSE: DPS) is the baby of the soda group. In the soda industry, Dr. Pepper is the third largest behind Coke and PepsiCo (NYSE: PEP). Since spinning off from Cadbury Schweppes in May 2008, it's had an admittedly bumpy ride. However, there is the possibility for growth in emerging markets such as China and Europe, where its key rivals already have a presence. Dr. Pepper's future may not be as certain as Coke's or Pepsi's, but when you factor in its potential for growth, and that between 2009 and 2010, Dr. Pepper grew its dividend by 500%, you're looking at a company that merits further investor consideration.

Dr. Pepper 

Sales ($M)

Sales Growth

Dividends Per Share

Dividend Growth

2010

$5,636

1.9%

$0.90

500%

2009

$5,531

(3.1%)

$0.15

N/A

2008

$5,710

0.3%

N/A

N/A

Can't go wrong with the red, white, and blue
Unlike Coke and Dr. Pepper, PepsiCo differentiates itself with a wider base of products. Looking for a hot bowl of oatmeal? Yep, Pepsi owns Quaker. It also produces a ton of other well-known products: Rice-a-Roni, Lay's, SoBe, Tostitos ... there's a long list, here. On top of paying dividends, in 2009 when other companies saw massive losses in growth and sales, Pepsi walked away relatively unscathed. Then in 2010, it came back with a vengeance. Just check out its growth between 2009 and 2010 in the chart below:  

Pepsi

Sales ($M)

Sales Growth

Dividends Per Share

Dividend Growth

2010

$57,838

33.8%

$1.89

6.5%

2009

$43,232

0%

$1.78

7.6%

2008

$43,251

9.6%

$1.65

15.8%

Money money money
While there's no sure-fire way to know what will happen in a company's future, Coke, Dr. Pepper, and Pepsi are primed to offer long-term growth with dividend payouts, making them great additions to any Fool's portfolio. What do you think? Want to keep up with Coca-Cola, Dr. Pepper, and Pepsi? Add them to MyWatchlist!