Coca-Cola is one of the largest and most dominating companies in the world monopolizing the entire soft-drink market. Something that big is bound to come with many tales of controversies, legal battles, secrets, market competitions, and interesting incidents from its past. So, here are some of those facts about Coca-Cola that will satisfy your curiosity and present some interesting information about the giant.
15. The initial formula of Coca-Cola contained a small amount of cocaine to give the drinkers a “buzz”. In 1903, it was removed and replaced by caffeine.
Like many other coca leaf-based drinks made during that time, Coca-Cola claimed many health benefits including relief from headaches and the drink being a “brain and nerve tonic”. In 1911, the United States sued Coca-Cola and asked from the company to remove caffeine from the drink claiming that it’s not good for health. Coca-Cola won the case but the decision reversed later in 1916. Hence, the company agreed to decrease the amount of caffeine in the drinks and paid all legal costs to avoid further problems. (source)
14. During the late 90’s, Coca-Cola tested price-changing vending machines taking advantage of the supply and demand concept. The machine would increase the price as temperature increased.
With a rise in the number of sales from vending machines, Coca-Cola wanted to get creative with how they price. The machines had started becoming an important source of profits for the company. Also by that time, the Japanese were already doing the same with some vending machines by changing prices based on outside temperatures using wireless modems with a possibility of making them more interactive. Its arch-rival Pepsi, however, stated that they were not working on any such a technology and preferred making it easier for a consumer to buy a soft-drink. (source)
13. Coca-Cola was sued by Dr. Pepper in 1972 for trademark infringement by making a soft-drink named “Peppo”. The drink was renamed as Dr. Pibb and was sued again. In the end, they named it Mr. Pibb.
This was not the first time Dr. Pepper and Coca-Cola conflicted. In another incident in 1951, Coca-Cola was sued for $750,000 for selling nickel Coca-Colas for low costs. Later in the 1980s, Coca-Cola tried to acquire Dr. Pepper and Seven-Up but failed to do so. Instead, Dr. Pepper and Seven Up merged creating Pepper/Seven Up Inc. but lost their international branding rights to Coca-Cola. Coca-Cola’s further attempts to acquire the company were blocked by the Federal Trade Commission to prevent its monopoly over the beverage industry. (source)
12. The American Coca-Cola spent as much as $1.5 million on scientists to argue that obesity is not caused by soft drinks and rather than cutting down on them, people should work out more.
According to the New York Times, Coca-Cola said that they have been researching their products for a very long time. They also said that they have been working on nutrition and fitness issues with experts in those fields and that it is important the researchers maintain transparency regarding funding and their findings. However, Coca-Cola isn’t the only company that funds The American Society for Nutrition and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Pepsi, Hershey’s, and McDonald’s have also done that. (source)
11. A truck driver at Coca-Cola Bottling Co. with 12 years of “clean record” was allegedly fired for drinking Pepsi on company time.
After finishing delivery at a store in California, the employee bought a bottle of Pepsi and went to the back room to take a break. He was wearing the Coca-Cola uniform while drinking it when someone spotted and notified the company. According to Teamsters union, he was fired because it was a violation of the company’s policies to “prevent slander against the company and its products.” The story, however, was never confirmed by the company’s spokesperson citing that it is against California’s laws to reveal employee’s privacy. (source)
10. Coca-Cola makes so many different types of beverages that it would take you over 9 years to taste them all if you tried one per day.
According to Coca-Cola India, the company has over 500 active brands with 3, 500 different types of products including 800 low-calorie alternatives. Coca-Cola has a long history of brand acquisitions including famous brands such as Minute Maid, Thums Up, Fanta, Sprite, and Bacardi. It didn’t stop there. In 1982, Coca-Cola purchased Columbia Pictures for $692 million and later sold it to Sony for $3 billion in 1989. With over 200 countries in which it sells beverages under various brands, it has become the world’s largest beverage company. (1, 2, 3)
9. Only 2 people alive know the “recipe” of Coca-Cola. It’s such a protected secret that they are both not allowed to travel on the same plane at the same time in case it crashes.
The company has built a multi-million vault in their headquarters in Atlanta specifically to guard the years of secret formula for the soft-drink. The formula was first developed by John Pemberton, a civil war veteran, and morphine addict, in 1886. However, the recipe was only written down by a group of investors in 1919 and was only passed by word of mouth until then. For over 86 years, the formula was locked in the bank of Atlanta, later to be moved into their own secure private vault. The secrecy and mystery of the drink’s formula were used as a market strategy by the company for advertising and campaigning. (source)
8. Coca-Cola has overused and depleted the groundwater of Mehdiganj, a village in India, for 16 years.
Councils of almost eighteen villages are calling for a ban on Coca-Cola’s bottling plant located near the village. According to Amit Srivastava, the company has been exploiting the groundwater resources at the expense of the villagers and their livestock. Because of the plant, they have been experiencing a shortage of water since 1999 though the company has denied all allegations. They claimed that there was no evidence for those allegations by citing reports from a different water authority and that the crops are still growing without problems. (source)