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  • Originally published 05/21/2013

    Mark Pendergrast publishes secret Coke formula

    Safely guarded in an air-conditioned vault in Atlanta, Georgia, lies one of western society's most valuable artefacts. So valuable, that its owner could lose millions if anyone so much as got a look at it. That's what Coca-Cola would have us believe anyway , claiming the only original copy of the soft drink's top-secret recipe lies underneath its US headquarters. But one man is threatening to lift this veil of secrecy this week as he claims to publish a copy of the original formula in a new book. Historian Mark Pendergrast says the recipe was handed down through the family of Frank Robinson, the commercial partner of chemist John Pemberton, who first produced the drink in the summer of 1886.In the third edition of his book, For God, Country and Coca-Cola: The Definitive History of the Great American Soft Drink and the Company That Makes It', Pendergrast reproduces what he claims to be the same recipe that Pemberton devised over 125 years ago. Among the ingredients in the book are sugar, lime juice, nutmeg and coriander.

  • Originally published 03/25/2013

    A brief history of racist soft drinks

    Lots of people know about how Coca-Cola used to contain cocaine or how Pepsi was the hip drink in the 1960s. Few realize that Coke marketed assiduously to whites, while Pepsi hired a "negro markets" department. Put more bluntly, Coke was made for white people. Pepsi was made for black people. Over the course of the decades and the seemingly limitless growth of the soft drink industry, the companies have expanded their marketing departments and launched myriad campaigns to discourage the idea that either appealed to a specific race. And now, in 2012 as Mayor Bloomberg plays tough against continued opposition to his ban on soft drinks, the complicated racial dynamics of the industry are exposed once again, as the NAACP works to reverse the ban, thanks, in part, to donations from Coca-Cola....

  • Originally published 01/29/2013

    Grace Elizabeth Hale: When Jim Crow Drank Coke

    Grace Elizabeth Hale, a professor of history and American studies at the University of Virginia, is the author, most recently, of “A Nation of Outsiders: How the White Middle Class Fell in Love With Rebellion in Postwar America.”THE opposition by the New York State chapter of the N.A.A.C.P. to Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s restrictions on sugary soda caught many Americans by surprise. But it shouldn’t: though the organization argues it is standing up for consumer choice and minority business owners, who it claims would be hurt, this is also a favor for a stalwart ally — Coca-Cola alone has given generously to support N.A.A.C.P. initiatives over the years.This is more than a story of mutual back-scratching, though. It is the latest episode in the long and often fractious history of soft drinks, prohibition laws and race.