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Coca-Cola is the trademarked name (registered 1893) of a popular carbonated drink sold in stores, restaurants and vending machines in many nations of the world. It is also popularly known as Coke, which the Coca-Cola Company also claims as a trademark. Coca-Cola also registered a trademark on the distinctive bottle shape in 1960. The company's international headquarters are in Atlanta, Georgia, in the United States of America.

Today, Coca-Cola is one of the world's most recognizable and widely sold commercial brands, available in over 200 countries. It is the best-selling soft drink in all but three. Coke's major rival is Pepsi, which began as its imitator in the early 20th century.

There are many controversies surrounding the company, its products and its trade practices. Coca-Cola has recently been denounced in the UK for weaning young children onto junk food. In India, the corporation has provoked a number of boycotts and protests as a result of its perceived low standards of hygiene and adverse impact on the environment.

Table of contents
1 History
2 What goes into Coke?
3 Coca-Cola's advertising
4 Other products
5 Controversies surrounding Coca-Cola
6 Bibliography
7 See also
8 External links


Early years

Coca-Cola was invented in
Columbus, Georgia by John S. Pemberton, originally as a cocawine called Pemberton's French Wine Coca. It was initially sold as a patent medicine for five centss a glass at soda fountains, which were popular in America at the time thanks to a belief that carbonated water was good for the health. It was relaunched as a soft drink to counter Prohibition. The first sales were made at Jacob's Pharmacy in Atlanta, Georgia, on May 8, 1886, and for the first eight months only thirteen drinks per day were sold. Pemberton then ran the first advertisement for the beverage on May 29 of the same year in the Atlanta Journal. Asa Griggs Candler bought out Pemberton and his partners in 1887 for a reported $2,300. He then began aggressively marketing the product — the efficacy of this concerted advertising campaign would not be realized until much later: by the time of its 50th anniversary, the drink had reached the status of a national symbol.

labels featuring Santa Claus wrap Coca-Cola's famous trademarked bottle shape.]]

Coke takes off

In the
1930s, Robert Woodruff became President of the Coca-Cola Company, presiding over the drink and its destiny till his death in 1985. Although he eventually stepped down from his post due to stress, he retained control over the company despite holding positions with an ostensibly low profile. His fanatical devotion to Coke was widely reported, and even in his old age, whenever he stopped by a Coke vendor, he would count how many bottles in the trash belonged to Coca-Cola. This almost devout dedication to the product spilled over to other executives in the company. In recent years, Rick Bronson, a truck driver for Coca-Cola, was fired for drinking a Pepsi (some allege it was actually over his involvement with unions). He was reinstated after a high-profile protest.

Coca-Cola was sold in bottles for the first time on March 12, 1894 and cans of Coke first appeared in 1955. Asa Candler was tentative about bottling the drink, but the two entrepreneurs who proposed the idea were so persuasive that Candler signed a contract giving them control of the procedure. However, the loosely-termed contract proved to be problematic for the company for decades to come. Legal matters were not helped by the decision of the bottlers to subcontract to other companies — in effect, becoming parent bottlers.

Coca-Cola and World War II

Coca-Cola had a controversial relationship with Nazism before and during World War II. The company adopted an apparent policy of ignoring the Nazis' practice of eugenics and exterminating Jews. Indeed, several of Coke's top executives in Germany were prominent Nazi members. When the United States entered World War II, Coke began to represent itself as a patriotic drink by providing free drinks for American soldiers. The American Army permitted Coca-Cola employees to enter the frontlines as "Technical Officers" when in reality they rarely if ever came close to a real battle. Instead, they operated Coke's system of providing refreshments for soldiers, who welcomed the beverage as a reminder of home. As the Allies advanced, so did Coke, which took advantage of the situation by establishing new franchises in the newly occupied countries. The popularity of the drink exploded in the wake of World War II as American soldiers returned home, more grateful than ever to partake of a beverage that had become synonymous with the American way of life.

New Coke to the present

In the 1980s, Coca-Cola, amid much publicity, attempted to change the formula of the drink. Some authorities believe that New Coke, as the reformulated drink was called, was invented specifically to respond to its commercial competitor, Pepsi. Blind taste tests indicated that most consumers preferred the taste of Pepsi (which has more lemon oil, less orange oil, and uses vanillin rather than vanilla) to Coke. New Coke was reformulated in a way which emulated Pepsi. Followup taste tests revealed that most consumers preferred the taste of New Coke to both Coke and Pepsi. The reformulation was led by the then President of the company, Roberto Goizueta, and the CEO Don Keough.

It is unclear what part Woodruff played in the reformulation. Goizueta claims that he endorsed it a few months before his death in 1985; others have pointed out that, as the two men were alone when the matter was discussed, Goizueta may have misinterpreted the wishes of the dying Woodruff, who could only speak in monosyllables. It has also been alleged that Woodruff may not have been able to understand what Goizueta was telling him.

The commercial failure of New Coke therefore came as a grievous blow to the management of the Coca-Cola Corporation. It is possible that customers would not have noticed the change if it had been made secretly or gradually, and thus brand loyalty could have been maintained. Coca-Cola management was unprepared, however, for the nostalgic sentiments the drink aroused in the American public; some compared changing the Coke formula to rewriting the American Constitution.

The new Coca-Cola formula subsequently caused a public backlash. Gay Mullins, from Seattle, Washington, USA, founded the Old Coke Drinkers of America organisation, and attempted to sue the company and lobbied for the formula of old coke to be made public domain. This and other protests caused the company to return to the old formula under the name Coca-Cola Classic on July 10, 1985. The company was later accused of performing this volte-face as an elaborate ruse to introduce a new product while reviving interest in the original. The company president responded to the accusation by declaring: "We are not that stupid, or that smart."

Meanwhile, the market share for New Coke had dwindled to only 3% by 1986. The company renamed the product "Coke II" in 1990, but sales falloff caused a severe cutback in distribution. By 1998 it was only sold in a few places in the midwestern U.S.

As of July 2004, the CEO of the Coca-Cola Company is Douglas Daft. The company is listed on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol KO.

What goes into Coke?

Main article: Coca-Cola Formula
Coca-Cola's name derived from the coca leaves and kola fruits used as flavoring. The exact formula is a legendary trade secret. Supposedly a copy of the formula is held in a safe in Atlanta with only two corporate officers having access, but this is in truth an urban legend.

The distinctive "cola" flavor comes mostly from the mix of sugar and essential orange, lemon and vanilla oils. [1] The other ingredients change the flavor only very slightly. In the United States, however, Coca-Cola is now sweetened with corn syrup, causing the flavor to be "blunted". Coca-Cola with sugar is still available in Canada, Mexico, Europe, and in certain American markets during Passover.

In the original formula, the natural cocaine content of the coca leaves, and caffeine from kola nuts, provided the drink's stimulant effect. Shortly after the turn of the century (1929), cocaine was removed from the coca leaves by processing (leaving a physiologically insignificant trace), and the amount of caffeine was reduced but not totally eliminated. The company's web site states that "Coca-Cola does not contain cocaine or any other harmful substance, and cocaine has never been an added ingredient for Coca-Cola". It should be noted that such a statement is entirely consistent with the presence of cocaine in the coca leaves in the original formulation, though it could be considered misleading. [1] [1]

The coca-leaf processing is done at a licensed coca-leaf processing plant in New York City (see Federal Register Doc. 04-5476). While this is probably the largest manufacturer, other chemical companies have obtained licenses for the import of coca leaves as well.

Besides cocaine, another controversial substance related to Coca-Cola is caffeine. Coke's caffeine content has been the subject of lawsuits since the 1920s. By comparison, an 8-ounce (235 ml) serving of Classic Coke as of June 2004 contains 23 milligrams of caffeine. 8 ounces of non-decaffeinated coffee, on the other hand, contains somewhere between 65 and 175 milligrams of caffeine. [1] [1]

The Coca-Cola Corporation is also the world's largest consumer of natural vanilla extract. When New Coke was introduced in 1985, the economy of Madagascar crashed, and only recovered after New Coke flopped, since New Coke used vanillin, a less-expensive synthetic substitute. Purchases of vanilla more than halved during this period.

Today Coca-Cola is manufactured as a syrup and then supplied to various franchisess which reconstitute, bottle and distribute it.

Coca-Cola's advertising

The drink and its advertising campaigns have had a significant impact on American culture. The company is frequently credited for "inventing" the modern image of Santa Claus as an old man in red-white garments; however, while the company did in fact start promoting this image in the 1930s in its winter advertising campaigns, it was already common before that [1]. In the 1970s, a song from a Coca-Cola commercial called "I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing" became a popular hit single, but there is no evidence it did anything to increase sales of the soft drink.

The company has a policy of avoiding using children below the age of 12 in any of its advertising as a result of a lawsuit from the beginning of the 20th Century which alleged that Coke's caffeine content was dangerous to children. However, in recent times, this has not stopped the company from targeting young consumers. In addition, it has not been disclosed in exact terms how safe Coke is for consumption by young children (or pregnant mothers).

Coke's advertising has been rather pervasive, as one of Woodruff's stated goals was to ensure that everyone on Earth drank Coca-Cola as their preferred beverage. Advertising for Coke is now almost ubiquitous, especially in southern areas of North America, such as Atlanta, where Coke was born. The 1996 Summer Olympics were hosted in Atlanta, and as a result, Coca-Cola effectively received free advertising.

During the 1980s, Pepsi-Cola ran a series of television advertisements showing people participating in taste tests in which they expressed a preference for Pepsi over Coke. Coca-Cola ran ads to combat Pepsi's ads in an incident sometimes referred to as the cola wars; one of Coke's ads compared the so-called Pepsi challenge to two chimpanzees deciding which tennis ball was furrier. Thereafter, Coca-Cola regained its leadership in the market.

In an attempt to broaden its portfolio, Coca-cola purchased Columbia Pictures in 1982. Columbia provided subtle publicity through Coke product placements in many of its films while under Coke's ownership. However, after a few early successes, Columbia began to underperform, and was dropped by the company in 1989.

Coca-Cola has gone through a number of different advertising slogans in its long history, including "The pause that refreshes", "I'd like to buy the world a Coke" and "Coke is it" (see Coca-Cola slogans).

Other products

was introduced in 1982 to offer an alternative to dieters worried about Classic Coke's calories.]]

The company produces many other soft drinks, including other varieties of Coca-Cola such as Diet Coke (introduced in 1982), which uses aspartame, a synthetic phenylalanine-based sweetener, in order to reduce the sugar content of the drink, Diet Cherry Coke (1985), Cherry Coke (1986), Coke with Lemon (2001), Diet Coke with Lemon (2001), Vanilla Coke (2002), Diet Vanilla Coke (2002), and Diet Coke with Lime (2004).

Tab was Coca-Cola's first attempt at developing a diet soft drink. Although the product is still sold, its sales have dwindled since the introduction of Diet Coke.

The Coca-Cola Corporation also produces a number of other soft drinks including Fanta (introduced circa-1942 or 1943) and Sprite. Fanta's origins date back to World War II when Max Keith, who managed Coca-Cola's operations in Germany during the war, ran out of the ingredients for Coke, which could only be supplied from the United States. Keith resorted to producing a different soft drink, Fanta, which proved to be a hit, and when Coke took over again after the war, it adopted the Fanta brand as well.

In 2004, perhaps in response to the burgeoning popularity of low-carbohydrate diets such as the Atkins Diet, Coca-Cola announced its intention to develop and sell a low-carbohydrate alternative to Coke Classic, dubbed C2 Cola. C2 contains a mix of high fructose corn syrup, aspartame, sucralose, and acesulfame-k. C2 is designed to more closely emulate the taste of Coca-Cola Classic. Even with less than half of the calories and carbohydrates of standard soft drinks, C2 is not a replacement for zero-calorie soft drinks such as Diet Coke. C2 went on sale in the US on June 11 2004.

Coca-Cola is the best-selling soft drink in most countries. Nevertheless, there are some places like Scotland, where the locally produced Irn Bru is more popular, and Quebec, Canada, where Pepsi is the market leader. Coke is less popular in other places, including some Middle East and Asian countries such as Palestine and India — in the latter, due to suspicions regarding the health standards of the drink, and in the former, due to rumors that Coca-Cola supports Israel, or simply Anti-American sentiments.

The Coca-Cola Company owns numerous brands and trademarks. Probably the most well-known besides Coca-Cola, Coke and its various spinoffs are Sprite, Fanta, TaB, Minute Maid and Mello Yello (see Coca-Cola brands).

Controversies surrounding Coca-Cola

Coke in India

Coca-Cola was banned from import in
India in 1970 as a result of the corporation's refusal to release the list of its ingredients. In 1993, the ban was lifted in pursuance of India's Liberalization policy. Soon after the relaunch, a study led by the Center for Science and the Environment (CSE), an independent scientific laboratory in New Delhi, found that Coca-Cola contained residues of dangerous pesticides at levels some thirty times the prescribed Indian and European norms. There were instances of substandard bottling practices by the company: the notorious discovery of a dead lizard inside a sealed Coca-Cola bottle was widely publicized. Environmental degradation in the form of depletion of the local ground water table due to the utilization of natural water resources by the company posed a serious threat to many communities. Finally, there were suspicions surrounding the addictive nature of the drink. As the company refused to disclose the exact ingredients, this remains a matter of speculation. In response to these allegedly unethical practices, several non-governmental organizations launched anti-Coca-Cola campaigns in India.

Coke and Trade Unions

Coke has also been the subject of controversy in its relationship with unions. In Colombia, it has been alleged that Coca-Cola hired paramilitary mercenaries to assassinate union leaders, although much of the evidence against the company is circumstantial. Critics argue that, whatever their source, these assassinations seem to have been helpful to Coca-Cola in eliminating troublemakers from their bottling plants. The Coca-Cola company denies these allegations.

In the 1980s, Guatemala also suffered a spate of mysterious murders of union-affiliated Coca-Cola employees. At one point, a factory was violently occupied by paramilitary mercenaries. Eventually, after pressure from several organisations worldwide, the conflict was ended when the corporation appointed a new franchise operator who brokered a deal with the union.

There have been troubled (but slightly less publicized) relationships between the company and unions in other parts of the world, notably the Philippines, Zimbabwe and even the United States. In 2002 two Coca-Cola shareholders, the Christian Brothers, presented a resolution at the shareholders' meeting which called for Coca-Cola to adopt a code of conduct on bottling practices and employee relations. The resolution was rejected, despite the fact that it had received almost unanimous union support in the aforementioned countries.

Urban legends about Coca-Cola

Coca-Cola has been the target of urban legends decrying the drink for its supposedly copious amounts of acid, or the "life-threatening" effects of its carbonated water. These urban legends usually take the form of "fun facts" e.g. "Coke can dissolve a tooth in 24-48 hours"; "highway troopers use Coke to clean blood from highways after accidents"; or "somebody once died in a Coke-drinking competition". All of these stories are false, and evidence has been presented in numerous cases against Coca-Cola since the 1920s which decisively proves that the drink is not harmful — indeed, it contains less citric acid than an orange. [1] [1] [1]

Another common urban legend is that Coca-Cola supports Israel, or Palestine, depending on the proclivities of the urban mythologist. A controversy arose in Egypt when a consumer mistook an Ethiopian inscription on a Coca-Cola bottle for Hebrew, sparking anger amongst Arab consumers of the drink. Coke's Egyptian manager reassured the press that the company would never open a bottling plant in Israel, thereby immediately escalating a local controversy almost to the status of an international incident. In truth, Coca-Cola had attempted to open a plant in Israel in 1949, but the Israeli government refused the permit, and the company did not push the issue further. A boycott began in the United States, leading to Coke's announcement that they would open a plant in Tel Aviv. This caused fury amongst Arab consumers of Coca-Cola, who in turn — led by the Arab League (with the exception of Egypt, whose boycott only lasted till 1979) — boycotted Coke until 1991. Pepsi also suffered from boycotts in America after intentionally avoiding Israel. This controversy eventually subsided when Pepsi entered the Israeli market in 1992. [1]

In the wake of the September 11, 2001 attacks, numerous rumors abounded that Coke (or Pepsi) supported Israel (or Palestine) with donations. In response, Mecca-Cola was formed as a pro-Palestinian alternative to Coca-Cola. However, the majority of Coca-Cola intended for Palestine is produced in a bottling facility in Ramallah, which employs mostly Palestinians, and so Mecca-Cola is regarded by some as more likely to hurt than help the Palestinian cause, even if the rumors about Coke's support of Israel were true. [1]

The numerous urban legends about Coca-Cola have led the Urban Legends Reference Pages to devote a whole section of their site to "Cokelore".


See also

External links