It's easy to jump on the "down with big soda" train, seeing as more and more evidence links Coca-Cola, Pepsi, and their thousands upon thousands of products with obesity, aggression, and health problems galore. But did you know that back in the day, soda's leading lady, Coca-Cola, was in fact produced, and marketed, as a health tonic?
Because we obviously can't get enough of soda, we took a trip down memory lane to discover just how America's sugary drink of choice came to be. Coca-Cola, which was first served in 1886 (as a fountain syrup; it was first bottled in 1891), today has more than 40 percent of the market share of sodas. But the drink has a long, twisting road as to how it came to be.
Mark Pendergast's third edition of the book For God, Country and Coca-Cola: The Definitive History of the Great American Soft Drink and the Company That Makes It gives an in-depth picture of the cultural and societal factors that made Coca-Cola into what it was. From the "nerve tonic" it was originally sold as to the intoxicating soda it is today, Coca-Cola was eventually crowned the queen of all sodas, even amid the competition. "Coca-Cola is the world's most widely distributed single product, available (legally) in every country in the world except North Korea and Cuba," said Pendergast in a Q&A. "It is the second best-known word on Earth, after 'OK.' In the vast sweep of human history, Coca-Cola has not been around that long, and no one can predict far into the future. But I do not foresee another brand becoming as iconic any time soon." We'd have to agree.
We learned more than we ever thought we could about Coca-Cola's reign over the world; click here to find 10 Coca-Cola facts you didn't know before.
This article was originally published on August 26, 2013.