Think about your fountain Drink

4 Feb

Most people have heard that Coca-Cola used to have cocaine in it when it was first manufactured. Now a days people are inclined to freak out because cocaine is seen as a deviant drug. But in reality when Coca-Cola was just in the makings cocaine was equivalently viewed as caffeine. Cocaine was also in cough drops and given to babies. Anyway, after reading the article When Jim Crow Drank Coke by Grace Hale I was intrigued to learn a totally new perspective to Coca-Cola’s history.

                Coca-Cola was first introduced in 1886 as a nonalcoholic version of a drink called French Wine Coca which also contained cocaine but because of prohibition laws it was banned. Coca-Cola caught on as being an “intellectual beverage” among well-off whites because it was seen as having the same medicinal effect as the French Wine Coca but still about to be sold. Things were going well up until 1899 when the company made it cheaper to purchase their product by redesigning the bottle.  Hale explains that “Anyone with a nickel, black or white, could now drink the cocaine-infused beverage”. This caused a semi moral panic of soft drinks contributing to the peak in cocaine use amongst African-Americans and as a result cocaine was removed from Coca-Cola. It’s funny how a product’s image can change so quickly just based on society’s perspective. When the well-off whites were the only ones drinking Coke, the drink was viewed as being good for you and beneficial to one’s health, but when African Americans started to drink Coke it magically became this problem-causing drink that needed to banned. This is just one of many examples of how influenced our society is by white supremacy.  

Coca-Cola continued to predominantly advertise to whites and ignore the African-American market. This is when Pepsi was able to make its big break by creating a specific market that advertised to African Americans specifically. There was obviously a backlash with this amongst white consumers but that didn’t change the fact that at some point in history Coke and Pepsi were seen as being Black and White. It wasn’t until recent years that this relationship was brought to court and Coke had to pay a settlement fee for discrimination in 2000. Today the racial line between Coke and Pepsi is blurred and most people only take preference over taste but it is important to not let these racial and political connotations fade out of history.


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