A Love Hate Relationship with Coke

In I saw... on May 10, 2011 at 12:28 pm

(I’m talking about the Cola)

Coke “started the tradition where the richest consumers buy essentially the same things as the poorest. … A Coke is a Coke and no amount of money can get you a better Coke than the one the bum on the corner is drinking. All the Cokes are the same and all the Cokes are good.”

Andy Warhol

The logo has been pasted on just about every susceptible surface on the planet. The 125th anniversary of the first Coca-Cola sold — on May 8, 1886, for 5 cents — has inspired the release of Coca-Cola a collection of images of the beverage. As a result, I’ve been noticing quite a few vintage prints for the brand around the web this week which inevitably snowballed into me trawling through hundreds more via Google search (don’t ask).
Everyone loves a good Coca-Cola fact to raise the eye-brows and so I thought I’d take the opportunity to run a few alongside my pick of vintage and retro advertisements….

It’s no big surprise to most people that Coca-Cola’s main addictive ingredient was cocaine. About 60mg of the drug was used in each serving of Coke until 1903 when the company claimed to have removed the ingredient. Strangely however, Coca-Cola still uses and imports coca leaves which are pretty much the main ingredient in the production of cocaine. It’s known that 8 tons of coca leaves are imported from South America each year by Coca-Cola. If any other regular citizen brought any of this into the United States, chances are they would be arrested for drug trafficking.

 Coca-cola was originally sold in bright green packaging.

‘Coca-Cola’ is the most recognised trademark, recognised by 94% of the world’s population and is the most widely recognised word after “OK”.

In 1936, Coca-cola sponsored the Berlin Olympics also known as the “Nazi Olympics”. While Britain was at war with Germany the company continued to do business behind enemy lines and advertised beside the Nazi Regime. As America entered the Second World War, German Coca-Cola bottling plants could no longer get the sugar/syrup to make the drink so they invented another drink for the Nazi public called “Fanta”.

Evidently, business is business.

If you accidentally got gum in your hair (it happens more often than you think), rinse it in coca-cola and the gum will come off very easily.

“Coca Cola” is a perfect toilet cleaner.

It takes 2 liters of water to make just 1 liter of Coke. In 2004, farmers in India held protests because Coca-Cola bottling plants were basically bleeding the water wells dry. It got so bad that Coke had to start shipping in water to many of its plants in 3rd world countries.

Over 290 billion liters of water are used every year by Coca-Cola around the globe and shows no signs of slowing down (as people in 3rd world countries continue to die because of a lack of clean water).

Say “Yes!” to Coke!

The first two countries to bottle ‘Coca-Cola’ after it was introduced in the United States were Cuba and Panama.

When ‘Coca-Cola’ started in the 1890s portraying these independent women, it was still a uncongenial time for a girl with big ideas. Women were discouraged from thinking beyond household drudgery, and derided if they distinguished themselves. 

From the early days, ‘Coca-Cola’ has portrayed women in unique ways, always running miles ahead of the times. ‘Coca-Cola’ encouraged and inspired women to live their lives to the fullest and share life experiences.

Far away from the proper etiquette, the ‘Coca-Cola’ girl spreads her wings, chooses hobbies of the modern age and has fun! She is traveling, sporting, sunbathing, inviting her friends over, flirting…

From the portraits of cheerleaders at the soda fountain to the ones of iconic actresses and women in flight suits: as a symbol of women’s emancipation, it could hardly be bettered.

Is she a Victorian pin-up, a girl next-door, a movie star, a party hostess, a factory worker or a swimsuit beauty? Her demeanor is radiant, vivacious and breezy. She exudes youthful energy and appears picture perfect wherever she goes, wearing all the latest fashion.

Coca-Cola’s vintage adverts paid an immense amount of attention to detail in fashion.

I want that bag.

If all the coca-cola bottles in the world were laid end to end they would reach the moon and back more than 1,677 times.

A day before Martin Luther King was assassinated he held a speech asking the people to boycott Coca-Cola and stop buying their products because of the way the black workers were being treated. Supposedly white workers where getting paid a much higher wage for little work where as the African Americans where expected to do long hours and back breaking work for little pay and no chance of advancement within the ranks of the company.

Artist Haddon Sundblom’s portraits for Christmas holiday advertisements, which began in the 1930’s helped mould the image of a red-suited Santa Claus.

The type of print used for the ‘Coca-Cola’ logo is called “Spencerian Script”.

Coca-cola means “to make mouth happy” in Chinese.

Coca-Cola can be used to help cure jellyfish stings.

Coca-Cola was established in May 1886 by doctor/pharmacist John Pemerton as a nerve tonic. What you probably didn’t know was that Dr. Pemerton was considered a junkie who was addicted to morphine. John died only 2 and half years after establishing the soft drink and trademark.

I’ve been chugging cans of coke while writing this post.

 I feel pretty sick. I definitely don’t feel like a supermodel.

The Coca Cola Assouline book is available here. 

P.S. If you clicked on this article because you thought it was going to give you advice on a love hate relationship with cocaine, please refer to this site instead… 
(but thanks for dropping by my blog anyhoo!)
  1. I have a faint memory of seeing a documentary about coca cola a couple of years ago, when they said that Coca Cola wanted to be seen as the luxurios cola and therefore didnt include black people in their commercials in the beginning of the century. Pepsi on the other hand did, which made them appear as a low budget version of coka cola for the poor.

    • “made them appear as low budget”… wow that’s really very sad… On the bright side, I was just looking at a ten-page spread in Italian VOGUE today using all black models..

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