“It’s the real thing.”
“Can’t beat the feeling.”
“Make it real.”
Sound familiar? If you recognize these slogans, you have a lot of company. For over 200 years Coca-Cola has been advertised as the most “deliciously refreshing ”beverage and represents perhaps the most successful advertising of all time. “Coca-Cola” is one of the most widely recognized terms in the world, second only to “OK”. 94% of the world’s population recognizes the red Coca-Cola trademark script. So how did this seemingly simple beverage skyrocket to global popularity?
When Dr. John Pemberton, a pharmacist from Atlanta, Georgia, peddled his Coca-Cola concoction to Jacob’s pharmacy in Atlanta in 1886, little did he know he was paving the way for the world’s number one soft drink company. From its humble beginnings in a backyard brass kettle, Coca-Cola is now served more that 700 million times each day.
The first glasses of Coca-Cola were sold at a soda fountain inside Jacob’s pharmacy for five cents a glass. For the first six years, it was marketed as a medicinal tonic, claiming to cure all sorts of ailments. The formulation included cocaine extracts and Kola nuts. It wasn’t until 1929 that all traces of cocaine (which were miniscule to begin with) were removed.
At the onset, Coca-Colas sales averaged about nine drinks a day. The first year’s profits were approximately $50. However, advertising costs exceeded the profits by about $20, so the first year was a bust. But not for long.
Under New Ownership
In 1891, an Atlanta businessman, Asa G. Candler, purchased the Coca-Cola formula from Pemberton. For a little over $2000, Candler became the judicious and proud owner of America’s most loved fountain drink. Because of his aggressive marketing, by the turn of the century the sale of Coca-Cola had spread like wild fire across the United States and into Canada.
Coke In A Bottle
On March 12, 1894, Coca-Cola was sold in a bottle for the first time. Candler was a bitleery of bottling, but two astute businessmen from Chattanooga, Tennessee convinced him to sign a contract that put the two entrepreneurs in control of the bottling process for $1. Though it’s reported that Candler never saw a dime of that dollar, thus began the rise of the bottling industry.
Coca-Cola After The Prohibition Era
During Prohibition, Coca-Cola was marketed as a “temperance drink”.Sometime after the Prohibition era, Earnest Woodruff bought the company for 25 million dollars and later gave it to his son. Robert Woodruff made Coca-Cola a worldwide institution. An extremely influential man, he was well known for his generous contributions to Atlanta area universities and organizations. Woodruff even promised the United States military that every service person would receive a supply of Coca-Cola, regardless the cost or location.Approximately 5 billion bottles were sent to the armed forces.
Eventually, Woodruff expanded the sale of Coca-Cola throughout the U.S. by way of the soda fountain. In 1928, fountain sales dipped for the first time as bottled Coca-Cola became more popular. Soon afterwards, Coca-Cola was made available in vending machines.
Coca-Cola ads appeared on television in the 1950’s and the rest, as they say, is history. Throughout the decades Coca-Cola advertisements have been perhaps the most memorable, successful ads in history. The ad “ I’d Like To Buy The World A Coke” is touted as one of the best commercials ever created, and along with other blockbuster campaigns, contributed to a cultural phenomenon and a multibillion business.
But at what ultimate price to consumers?
Time To Fear The Reaper
Coca-Cola and other soft drinks can attribute their yummy flavor partly to high fructose corn syrup, which according to recent scientific studies has been linked to obesity – especially in children and adolescents. As soft drink consumption rises, the obesity epidemic grows. This is why some of the best diet plans for weight loss (i.e Atkins, Medifast, Diet toGo, etc) recommend that you avoid sugar sweetened soft drinks.
In the U.S. and Europe, the calories from soft drinks account for 80% of the increase in high caloric sweetener products. Between 1977 and 2001, the U.S. consumption of soft drinks doubled for children the age of 2 to 18 years of age. Studies in Australia and Denmark reported similar dismal findings.
The Missing Link
There are four possible biological mechanisms that explain the link between soft drinks and obesity. These are based around the fact that drinking soft drinks makes you feel less full so that more calories (energy intake) are eaten at each meal. However, these results are not conclusive and still more research is needed to examine these mechanisms more closely.
Can Diet Coke Make You Fat, Too?
In an effort to combat weight gain, many people turn to diet or artificially sweetened (AS) foods and sodas. The bad news is that the move may have backfired.
The San Antonio Heart Study examines the relationship between AS beverages and long term weight gain. From 1979 to 1988, 5,120 adult residents of San Antonio were measured for height, weight, and AS beverage consumption. Seven to eight years later 3,682 were re-examined.
The research shows there is an indirect relation between AS beverages and weight gain. In the absence of sugar, fat and protein consumption increases therefore calorie intake increases.
“Lite” products cause consumers to overestimate the amount of calories they are actually saving by choosing artificially sweetened products. They tend to overcompensate by allowing more calories elsewhere in their diet.
Artificial sweeteners, depending on the type, can be 180 to 13,000 times sweeter than sugar. This perhaps results in a distortion of taste, and a craving for extremely sweet and highcalorie foods.
The direct relationship between AS and weight gain is that for some individuals ASuse – or any sweet taste – may increase hunger, cravings and consumption. However, not all studies have shown that to be true. An elevated insulin level or falling blood sugar level has been found in some cases.
Most troubling is a rodent study that suggests that high levels of the AS aspartate causes neurotoxicity in the hypothalamus, a site in the fore brain that causes leptin (a hormone that regulates appetite and metabolism) to signal us when we’ve had enough to eat. Could aspartate cause leptin resistance in humans, and thus lead to obesity?
In conclusion, there seems to be an association between AS beverage consumption, like diet coke, and long-term weight gain, though an association does not establish cause. However, the results do raise the question – “Are diet sodas actually fueling the obesity epidemic instead of fighting it?”
A Coke And A Smile?
Maybe. As an occasional treat, a Coca-Cola isn’t likely to do any harm. But if youbegin to drink it more than water, you can expect the pounds to pile on. And as disturbing as it may be, diet sodas may actually be worse for you than “the real thing.”