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The Coca-Cola word mark .
Coca-Cola glass filled with Coca-Cola and ice cubes
A typical Coca-Cola bottle

Coca-Cola , or Coke for short , is a carbonated soft drink produced by the Coca-Cola Company . It is the top-selling cola brand. The Coca-Cola lettering is a globally protected word mark .

In the period after the Second World War, the drink was also known as the Besatzerbrause .


Coca-Cola was invented by John Stith Pemberton on May 8th, 1886 by accident, because he actually wanted to invent a syrup that was supposed to relieve headaches. Shortly before the inventor's death, the pharmacy wholesaler Asa Griggs Candler acquired the rights to Coca-Cola for US $ 2,300 . In 1892 he founded The Coca-Cola Company . A year later, Candler registered Coca-Cola as a trademark and marketed the product in the USA and, since 1896, in neighboring countries.

In addition to the headquarters in Atlanta, branches were opened in Los Angeles , Chicago , Philadelphia , New York and Dallas during this time . In 1904 Candler had the tower named after him built as the company's headquarters, the first building in Atlanta that was taller than the church tower. In its foundation he let a copper case with his portrait and a Coca-Cola bottle.

In 1917, Candler retired from the company and became mayor of Atlanta. In January, Asa Candler handed over management of the business to his son Howard. At Christmas 1917, Asa Candler bequeathed 90 percent of the voting shares to his relatives except seven. However, in 1919, Howard Candler sold the Coca-Cola Company behind his father's back to a consortium led by Ernest Woodruff and Eugene Stetson for 25 million US dollars.

In 1920 , the new owners put the Coca-Cola family to an acid test because they wanted to terminate the contracts of the regular bottlers. In the beginning they had borne the full entrepreneurial risk and received open-ended contracts, but in the meantime they delegated the actual bottling to the “first-level bottlers” and earned their money with it. The court declared the contracts to be legally valid and therefore unlimited. In the 1930s, however, the Coca-Cola Company slowly began to buy up the facilities of the regular bottlers.

In 1923 Robert W. Woodruff , the son of Ernest Woodruff, took up his job as the new President of the Coca-Cola Company. Under his leadership, the company would become what a journalist would later call the "sublimated nature of America." His goal was that Coca-Cola should never be more than "an arm's length from lust" and to spread it worldwide, for which he founded the Foreign Sales Department - later The Coca-Cola Export Corporation - in 1926 .

In Germany , Coca-Cola was first bottled in 1929 in the "Essen distribution company for natural beverages". In the first year 5,840 boxes were sold, in 1939 50 factories were in operation with annual sales of 4.5 million boxes. During the Second World War , Coca-Cola production came to a standstill due to a lack of raw materials. During this time, Fanta was developed in Essen , which was initially made on a whey basis. In 1957, Max Schmeling took over a bottling in Hamburg as a concessionaire. In 1967, a total of 100 million boxes of Coca-Cola were sold in the Federal Republic for the first time within one year.

Today, Coca- Cola is the top- selling cola drink in almost every region of the world . One of the few exceptions is Thuringia , where Vita Cola is the market leader for colas.

It used to take around 2.8 liters of water to produce one liter of cola. The amount of water required has now been reduced to around 2.0 liters.


1886 to 1930

The invention of the name Coca-Cola derived from the original, now no longer used, ingredients coca leaf (Engl. Coca leaves ) and kola nut (Engl. Cola nut ) and the first album , Pemberton's bookkeeper, Frank M. Robinson is credited of the The view is said to have been that the two curved Cs are well suited for advertising. The red color is said to come from red barrels that Pemberton is said to have used for bottling at the time. The first newspaper advertisement appeared in the Atlanta Journal on May 29, 1886 .

Coca-Cola ad from the early years

Under Pemberton, Coca-Cola was initially advertised and sold as a medicine. It was aimed primarily at urban mental workers who suffered from fatigue , headaches , depression , impotence or the fashionable disease neurasthenia . Mixed with soda water, this syrup made a refreshing drink that was initially offered by the glass for 5 cents in soda bars, which were then a meeting place for fine society.

Coca-Cola's rapid rise under Asa Candler's leadership is attributed not least to the unusually high sums of money that he spent on advertising at the time (1900: 85,000 US dollars; 1912: one million US dollars). He broke new ground in marketing and, for example, sent representatives across the country who, like various other miracle drugs , were supposed to sell Coca-Cola on the promise of the blue from the sky . In the cities, advertising was aimed at business people, as Candler promised "A coke at 8 am to 11 am". The slogan “Drink Coca-Cola”, which is still in use, also dates from this time. Robinson, who defected to Candler, was mainly responsible for advertising during this period. More and more women and children got a taste for it and wished they no longer had to buy Coca-Cola as medicine so that they could drink it when they weren't sick. So in 1905 Robinson turned around, changed the image of Coca-Cola and advertised it as a soft drink under the slogan "Delicious and Refreshing". In addition, there was a move to no longer defend the drink, which was often attacked by consumer organizations because of its alleged cocaine or its secret caffeine content, against these attacks in advertising, but instead to defend it as absolutely "pure", "strengthening" and as Designate alternative to medicine.

Coca-Cola advertisement in the late 19th century

Around the turn of the century , advertising also focused on female beauties for the first time and, for example, hired actress Hilda Clark and blonde singer Lillian Nordica for advertisements.

Giveaways that buyers of the syrup could get at a reasonable price were also a successful means . In 1913 the lettering adorned over a million items, including thermometers, matchboxes, baseball cards, Japanese fans, calendars and countless cardboard and metal signs.

In 1906 Robinson was ousted and Sam Dobbs, a nephew of Candler, was given responsibility for advertising. He hired his friend William D'Arcy with his advertising agency and regularly squandered the advertising budget before the end of the year.

In 1911 the Coca-Cola Company was sued by the US government . Harvey Wiley , the first director of the US Bureau of Chemistry, had an aversion to Coca-Cola because he said that a drink aimed at children should not contain caffeine. Coca-Cola rejected the allegations, arguing that the drink was not designed for children after all, and pledged not to direct its marketing activities to children under the age of twelve.

In 1919, Archie Lee took responsibility for advertising, changing it to ads with less text detailing reasons for the purchase and more color images, often showing only busy squares or panoramas with the Coca-Cola logo on them. In 1922 he landed his first big coup with the slogan “Thirst knows no season”. The associated advertising campaign at the end of the year was Coca-Cola's first full winter campaign.

Woodruff's goal that a Coca-Cola should never be more than an arm's length away was tackled in the 1920s when the six-pack was discovered for Coca-Cola in 1923 and this became increasingly popular with the invention of the refrigerator , so that people For the first time, they were able to take larger quantities of Coca-Cola home with them. By 1928, more bottled cola was being sold than in the soda bars . When, a few years later, refrigerated drinks vending machines came onto the market for an affordable price, another step was taken towards this goal by installing these vending machines in practically all public places. Petrol stations in particular were of great strategic importance. In 1929 a nationwide network with a total of 1.5 million filling stations was built.

At the Olympic Summer Games in the Netherlands in 1928 , Coca-Cola was allowed to call itself the "Official Soft Drink of the Olympic Games" for the first time.

1930 to 2017

Older neon sign at a pub
Coca-Cola Christmas truck

Santa Claus first appeared in Coca-Cola ads in 1931 . This was a friendly, fat, red-clad man with a long, white beard. Previously, Santa Claus was often depicted as a bearded, old man with a long, brown fur coat and hood, only rarely in the form used by Coca-Cola. So Coca-Cola did not invent the red Santa Claus, as is often claimed, but thanks to the very well-known Christmas commercials it contributed to the rapid worldwide spread of this coloring, so that now practically all Santa Clauses are Coca-Cola red.

Other companies tried to build on the success of Coca-Cola by bringing similar products onto the market. The company PepsiCo developed into the biggest competitor with its product Pepsi-Cola . Fierce competition developed between the two companies over the decades, which from the 1970s took on what was publicly referred to as the Cola War . In fact, marketing experts are more of the opinion that both companies benefited from the respective market presence of the competitor because it helped them to establish brand-independent cola beverages as a soft drink for consumers.

By the late 1950s, Coca-Cola's sales were five times greater than Pepsi-Cola's. Pepsi-Cola then focused its marketing efforts on establishing itself as a drink for young people with the slogan " the drink of the youth " and thereby differentiating itself from the broader focus of Coca-Cola. PepsiCo supplemented this in the 1970s with the so-called " Pepsi-Challenge ", in which consumers were asked to compare Coca-Cola and Pepsi-Cola tastes in a blind test. In this direct comparison, most consumers preferred the sweeter Pepsi-Cola. In the 1980s, PepsiCo tightened this marketing approach by simultaneously appearing globally with the " Pepsi Challenge ", found one of the most effective slogans in advertising history with the " Pepsi Generation " and hired personalities such as Don Johnson and Michael Jackson as advertising media. As a result, Coca-Cola increasingly lost market share to Pepsi-Cola. According to marketing expert Matt Haig, at the beginning of the 1980s it was only the better distribution channels for Coca-Cola that prevented Pepsi-Cola from becoming the top-selling soft drink in the USA. Coca-Cola initially countered in 1984 with an advertising slogan that emphasized that the drink was less sweet than Pepsi-Cola, and won Bill Cosby as the advertising medium for it, and the company led the extremely successful launch of Diet Coke, which has been very successful since the product was launched in 1982 quickly developed into the third strongest cola drink after Coca-Cola and Pepsi-Cola, also because this drink was closer to Pepsi-Cola than Coca-Cola in terms of taste. Coca-Cola then developed a new recipe. Market tests seemed to show that consumers not only preferred this new recipe to the old one, but also rated it better than Pepsi-Cola in terms of taste. New Coke was introduced on April 23, 1985 and a few days later the production of Coca-Cola based on the old recipe was discontinued. This approach turned out to be one of the biggest marketing disasters in advertising history. Consumers in the USA reacted unanimously outraged to the recipe change. PepsiCo reacted very quickly to its competitor's mistake and, just weeks after New Coke was launched in the United States, ran a television advertisement in which an old man sitting on a park bench mourned the old Coca-Cola. As early as July 11, 1985, Robert Goizueta , CEO of the Coca-Cola Company, had to announce the withdrawal of the decision and the reintroduction of the old recipe, which was then marketed in the USA as Classic Coke. The news was rated so remarkable in the US that ABC News , among others, interrupted its broadcast for the news.

Coca-Cola advertisement in Hong Kong

Probably the best-known Coca-Cola advertisement was the spot backed by Billy Davis ' song “I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing”, in which people of different origins and ages come together in the course of the spot on a meadow to work together to sing, and which strongly emphasizes the sense of community that drinking Coke is supposed to create. After Pepsi hired superstar Michael Jackson for a commercial, the Coca-Cola Company countered by making a new version of the commercial. Coca-Cola advertising still works according to this principle today, as the spot “The March” shows, which can be seen as the second sequel to the 1971 spot.

Coca-Cola is sold in more than 200 countries on every continent. More than 1.9 billion beverages are sold by Coca-Cola every day. In India , Coca-Cola was banned from 1977 to 1991 because the company refused to disclose the recipe. In Myanmar, after the end of the military dictatorship in 2012, the drink was introduced for the first time in 60 years. Since then, the lemonade has not been available in two countries. It is not officially sold in North Korea or Cuba .

Around $ 4 billion was spent on advertising and marketing in 2016, compared to a profit of $ 6.527 billion.

In 2007, an internal startup was commissioned to create a new drinks machine, and in 2009 the product called Coca-Cola Freestyle and designed by Pininfarina went into series production. Since then, it has been used in shopping centers and fast-service restaurants in North America, and in Germany since 2016, but so far only in some branches of the Burger King chain and at the cinema chain Cinemaxx. With the help of the microdosing method known from medicine , the customer can draw from the widest range of products available to date at the machine filled with cartridges instead of syrup canisters. For example, it is possible to create a Coca-Cola light grape . In 2011, Forbes magazine voted the product the coolest product of the decade alongside Apple's iPhone . Competitor Pepsi followed suit in 2014 with its competing product called Pepsi Spire .

The beverage manufacturer says that the stopping points should be selected after receiving letters from the population. For the first time, the "English health authority Public Health England (...) called on local authorities to think about whether such advertising campaigns are compatible with the aim of reducing worrying levels of obesity and tooth decay in children." The Sugar Smart initiative , launched by celebrity chef Jamie Oliver and the organization "Sustain" asked Coca-Cola to serve water instead of sugary drinks on the tour. A corresponding letter of protest was also signed by representatives of the authorities and local council members from 28 municipalities.

In 2017, Coca-Cola said it produced three million tons of plastic .


Cocaine content

Much has been speculated about the original cocaine content of a Coca-Cola. According to a prescription believed to have been written by Frank M. Robinson, a glass contained 8.45 milligrams of cocaine, with the typical snuff dose being 20 to 30 milligrams, and cocaine taken orally less effective. The Coca-Cola Company is still officially denying that their drink ever contained cocaine.

In 2006 the Viennese pharmacist Wilhelm Fleischhacker wrote in an article about cocaine that was based on his lecture at the Austrian Academy of Sciences on October 17, 2006: “Around the year 1885, the American pharmacist Pemberton used cocaine together with caffeine as a Panacea added to drink called Coca-Cola. In 1891 at least 200 reports of cocaine intoxication were available and 13 deaths were known. By 1903, one liter of Coca-Cola contained around 250 milligrams of cocaine. In 1914, the addition of cocaine to beverages and non-prescription drugs was banned in the USA, and strict narcotics regulations were issued for cocaine in European countries as well. "

After the addictive effects of cocaine had gradually got around in western countries, the manufacturer switched to adding only non- alkaloid extracts from coca leaves as a flavoring in 1902 . This was done not least in order not to lose the right to the trademark. Whether coca is still used to make cola is controversial. Coca-Cola denies it. The Stepan Company has a special permit to import and process coca leaves from Peru and Bolivia .

This has helped Coca-Cola with its success and image. In the USA, Coca-Cola is also marketed under the former nickname “Coke”, which also means coke in the sense of heating material, but also stands for cocaine. In the southern states , Coca-Cola was simply called “Coke” for a long time.


This first version of the famous bottle went into production in 1916
On the Las Vegas Strip: The world's largest Coke bottle, found in front of the World of Coca-Cola Museum , near the MGM Grand Hotel
Coca-Cola bottle in the Arab world
Screw cap with freshness seal and Coke Fridge code on the inside

The famous contour bottle , or " hobble called," was born on 18 August 1915 the United States through the factory signed "Root Glass Company" by Alexander Samuelson patent and patented by November 16, 1915th A glass Tiffany vase is said to have served as a model for the feminine curves . The corrugation of the glass is probably due to the fact that an employee of the manufactory looked in the lexicon under cocoa bean when looking for a picture of the coca leaf . It was introduced to differentiate Coca-Cola from the very numerous Cola copies at the time. Another advantage was the thick glass, which made the contents appear larger. At the beginning the glass was still greenish in color; today it is clear glass. In addition to the name and the lettering, the bottle quickly developed into an independent trademark of the drink, but was not protected under trademark law until 1960. As font was Spencerian script used.

Since Pepsi gained more and more market share from the 1950s, not least because of its 12- ounce bottle, the "King-Size" 10 and 12-ounce bottles and the 26-ounce family bottle were introduced in February 1955 . The former were sold for the same price as the original 6-ounce bottle, but that didn't detract from their popularity. In 1977, the red and white logo was first stuck onto the bottles as a colored label in Germany.

Product variants

In addition to the (Austrian, Bavarian: the) classic Coca-Cola, the Coca-Cola Company also markets derivative products under the Coca-Cola and Coke brands . In 1982 the energy- reduced Diet Coke / Coca-Cola Light was introduced with great success (in Germany 1983). From Coca-Cola and Diet Coke / Coke Light there is also caffeine-free versions. The New Coke , launched in 1985 and withdrawn from the market after consumer protests, is still available in some regions as the Coke II .

Flavor variations include Vanilla Coke with vanilla flavor, Cherry Coke with cherry flavor , Coca-Cola Citra with citrus flavor , Coca-Cola with lemon , lime or raspberry flavor and Coke Light Lemon with lemon flavor. In 2004 Coca-Cola C2 was introduced first in Japan and then in the USA with halved sugar and thus halved physiological calorific value , which was discontinued in 2007 due to a lack of sales.

Coca-Cola Zero was published in the USA in 2005 and in Germany in July 2006. Coca-Cola Zero contains no ("zero") sugar , but sweetener . According to the manufacturer, the only difference between the two products is the taste: Coke Zero tastes “almost like the classic Coca-Cola”, while Coca-Cola Light has “its own unique taste”. Critics see the launch of another sugar-free cola drink justified in marketing: While the advertising for Coca-Cola Light is increasingly aimed at women, the target group for advertising for Coca-Cola Zero are figure-conscious men.

In early 2006, the Coca-Cola Company tested the new coffee -flavored Coca-Cola BlāK product in France and launched it shortly afterwards in the USA. The new Coca-Cola light sango was also introduced in France .

As of April 2008, the Coke Light Lemon product will be replaced by the Coca-Cola Light Plus Lemon C wellness variant in Germany . In addition, the new Coca-Cola Light Plus Green Tea variant (with green tea flavor) was sold until March 2010 . Both are intended to appeal to the female target group of 25 to 39 year olds.

The green-labeled Coca-Cola Life has been on the market in Argentina and Chile since 2013 . It was launched in the US in August 2014 and a month later in the UK. In Coca-Cola Life, one third of the sugar was initially replaced by stevia , later half of it . Since February 2015, Coca-Cola Life has also been sold in green-labeled bottles in Germany and Switzerland, after stevia was approved as a food additive in the EU in November 2011 . According to a report by the Lower Saxony consumer center, the product was criticized because it suggests a healthier lifestyle, but with 34 g of sugar per 500 ml, it is still above the value recommended by the WHO per day. At the end of 2017, the Coca-Cola variety was discontinued due to a lack of demand.

In December 2016, the Coca-Cola Zero Sugar product was introduced in Germany and “many other countries” . It is to gradually replace the now discontinued Coca-Cola Zero and, according to the brand, “taste even more like the sugary variant”.


Product variants Cherry, Vanilla, Life

In Germany (and since the year mentioned) the following products are offered under the Coca-Cola brand:

  • 1929: Coca-Cola Original Taste (until 2016 Coca-Cola , 2016–2018 Coca-Cola Classic )
  • 1983: Coca-Cola light taste (since 1991, 1995 and 2005 each with a new recipe, until 2016 Coca-Cola light ; sugar-free)
  • 1986–2018, 2019, 2020: Coca-Cola cherry (until 2010 Cherry Coke ); with cherry flavor; was discontinued at the end of 2018 and replaced by a sugar-free version; in July 2019 again as a promotion at Netto Marken-Discount; reintroduced after consumer protests in spring 2020
  • 1990: Coca-Cola light taste caffeine-free (market test as early as 1984, until 2018 Coca-Cola light caffeine-free ; sugar-free)
  • 2003–2018, 2019, 2020: Coca-Cola vanilla (until 2012 Vanilla Coke ), vanilla flavor ; was discontinued at the end of 2018 and replaced by a sugar-free version; in July and October 2019 again as a promotion at Netto Marken-Discount; reintroduced after consumer protests in spring 2020
  • 2003: Coca-Cola light taste Lemon (until 2008 Coca-Cola light Lemon , 2008–2018 Coca-Cola light Lemon C ; sugar-free, lemon flavor)
  • 2006: Coca-Cola zero sugar (until 2016 Coca-Cola zero ; sugar-free)
  • 2013: Coca-Cola caffeine-free without sugar (until 2018 Coca-Cola zero caffeine-free ; sugar-free)
  • 2019: Coca-Cola cherry without sugar (cherry flavor, sugar-free)
  • 2019: Coca-Cola vanilla without sugar (vanilla flavor, sugar-free)
  • 2019: Coca-Cola light taste exotic mango ( exotic mango flavor, sugar-free)
  • 2019: Coca-Cola light taste ginger lime (ginger-lime flavor, sugar-free)
  • 2019: Coca-Cola Energy ( energy drink with Coca-Cola flavor)
  • 2019: Coca-Cola Energy without sugar (energy drink with Coca-Cola and Guarana flavor, sugar-free)
  • 2019, 2020: Coca-Cola cinnamon without sugar (cinnamon flavor, sugar-free, each limited Christmas edition)

Discontinued varieties



Life PET bottles:
1.25 l non-
returnable , 1 l returnable

Coca-Cola (but not every type) is available in Germany as of 07/2019 in the following packaging:

Coca-Cola announced at the beginning of 2015 that it would discontinue returnable PET bottles with volumes of 0.5 and 1.5 liters. The 1.5 liter returnable bottle is being discontinued due to the decline in sales due to demographic change . The 0.5-liter bottle suffers from the high cost of the return of empties , as they would often returned as entrainment products elsewhere when it was purchased. As a result, empty boxes had to be transported to a greater extent. The refill rate of five to six circulations was the lowest of the returnable containers, as 15 percent of the bottles were not returned at all.

The returnable bottles in the case of glass bottles achieve an average of twenty and in the case of PET bottles an average of fifteen circulations. Coca-Cola put the reusable share for 2014 at 56.7%.

In the past, Coca-Cola was also available in:

  • Reusable glass bottle (with deposit): 1.5 liters
  • PET returnable bottle (with deposit): 0.5 and 1.5 liters
  • PET non-returnable bottle (with deposit): 2.25 liters
  • Beverage can (deposit-free): 0.25 liters (slimline format, only as free samples, only light and light lemon), 0.33 liters (classic format), 0.326 liters (GB import 1971), 0.35 liters, 0, 5 liters
  • Disposable glass bottle (deposit-free): 0.33 and 1.0 liters

The deposit for returnable PET bottles was 36 cents or 70 pfennigs until January 21, 2002, and was then reduced to 15 cents, the deposit customary in the industry.


In Austria there was and is no deposit on cans, but on 1 L glass bottles that have become rare in the food retail trade. There are small glass bottles for vending machines and in restaurants without a deposit. Today machines are usually equipped with cans. PET bottles exist as thick-walled returnable bottles (recognizable by scuff marks) with a deposit and as thin one-way bottles without a deposit.


In Switzerland, in April 2019, the 0.5 liter PET bottles were reduced to 0.45 liters and the 1 liter bottles to 0.75 liters. Selecta responded by adjusting the range of its around 8,000 snack vending machines which it operates across Switzerland, removing some Coca-Cola products from its range.

As of 2019, Coca Cola Switzerland will therefore sell non-returnable PET bottles in the sizes 0.45 liters, 0.75 liters and 1.5 liters for the end customer segment. As a reusable PET bottle, there is also a 1 liter bottle, which can be bought by the case. In the catering sector, on the other hand, the 0.33 liter glass bottle is common. Coca Cola Switzerland no longer fills cans. 0.15-liter cans filled in Hungary and 0.33-liter cans filled in Italy are resold by Coca Cola Switzerland.

Through parallel imports , cans or bottles of other sizes or shapes are sometimes available from retailers.


Due to the success of Coca-Cola, which actually originated as an imitation of Vin Mariani , many imitators were called on to the scene. Around 1900, a large number of Colas sprouted up out of the ground, including Coke-Ola, Carbo-Cola, Sola-Cola, Coca-Nola, Afri-Cola , Pepsi-Cola , Pepsi-Nola, Cola-Coke, Kola -Kola, Noka-Cola or Cold-Cola . Pemberton's former partner J. C. Mayfield also produced beverages such as dope, wine cola and koke .

This is one of the reasons why Candler wanted to have the Coca-Cola logo protected as a trademark. In doing so, however, he came across the chemist Benjamin Kent from New Jersey , who had been selling Kent's Coca-Cola since 1884 and had it protected as early as 1889, but had stated, for legal reasons, that he had only been selling it since 1888. Because of this fortunate circumstance, Candler was able to have the rights protected, as Pemberton had the name Coca-Cola registered as early as 1887.

The Coca-Cola Company then tried to sue the imitators, but initially failed because the defendants argued that Coca-Cola was just a descriptive name for the main ingredients. For fear that this argument would become common knowledge, Candler initially refrained from further legal action.

In 1904 the attorney Harold Hirsch joined Candler's law firm and in 1905 the US American Trademark Act was introduced, which protected "Coca-Cola", whether descriptive or not, for 10 years. When Hirsch became chief responsible for legal affairs at the Coca-Cola Company in 1909, he first hired detectives who took samples in soda bars and checked whether other products were being served under the name Coca-Cola. In 1915 he set up an in-house investigation department with full-time employees. To this end, he sued every beverage company whose product name only vaguely reminded of Coca-Cola or which used red barrels, a similar font logo or diamond-shaped labels. He also tried unsuccessfully to have the brown color of Coca-Cola protected. By 1923 he had won enough lawsuits to publish a 650-page book on Coca-Cola law. By 1926 he had had an estimated 7,000 trademarks banned, and in that year he brought about 50 lawsuits.

In the 1930s, Pepsi-Cola was also to be sued after Walter Staunton Mack took over the company and Banned Coke from several of his own bars and replaced it with Pepsi. In addition, the aim of Coca-Cola was to register the word Cola for itself. To do this, you had to make sure that Cola remained the common term for Coca-Cola . However, after Mack discovered evidence of bribery in an earlier trial against another plagiarism, an out-of-court settlement was reached that Pepsi could continue to call his drink a Coke . Since the Coca-Cola Company no longer had a chance to secure this term, efforts were made to establish Coke , which actually means coke-coal , as the common name for Coca-Cola and thus to protect this name allow.


Pemberton's French Wine Coca, brewed by Pemberton, made from wine, cola nuts and coca leaves has little in common with today's Coca-Cola. His recipe was mainly designed to mask the bitter taste of the coca leaf. After Pemberton had sold the recipe for the wineless Coca-Cola, which he had already modified, several times, a dozen people had access to his recipe. For these reasons, Candler changed the composition and gave it the code 7X , which enabled him to differentiate the taste of Coca-Cola from the original recipe. He was so obsessed with secrecy that he never put the recipe on paper, always removed the labels from all concentrates , and always brewed his cola himself behind closed doors. The concentrate made from kola nut and coca leaf was named Merchandise No. 5 .

Since the synthetic sugar substitute saccharin had a preservative effect and was cheaper, the bottler Thomas secretly experimented with stretching the syrup for filling with it during the first filling attempts. At the turn of the century, this ingredient was included in the recipe, presumably after consulting Thomas. In 1906, however, it was taken out to comply with the Pure Food and Drug Act , which declared saccharin to be an "adulterating" ingredient. Because the Coca-Cola Company was sued for the caffeine content of Coke on the basis of this law, an agreement was reached in 1917 to reduce the caffeine content to 130 mg / 100 ml, but to reduce the proportion of merchandise no. 5 to double.

Even today it is said that the recipe (formula 7 × 100) is one of the best-kept secrets. According to legend, the formula lies in a vault in Atlanta; never more than two people should have access to this and know the exact recipe.

The main flavor carriers were and are real vanilla , orange , lemon and cinnamon oils . Phosphoric acid provides the sour taste , while ordinary household sugar (chemical sucrose ) provides the sweetness . The ingredients are the same all over the world today and all ingredients such as water or sugar have to be prepared in the same way. Strict conditions apply here. Producers are only allowed to choose the type of sugar used . For example, beet sugar is mainly used in Europe , cane sugar in Asia and sugar made from corn syrup in America. Not least because of this, the taste of Coca-Cola can vary, although the basic components and the main taste note remain the same.

ingredient list

The following ingredients are officially stated on the German-language packaging of Coca-Cola Original Taste :

Water , sugar , carbonic acid , color E 150d , acidifier phosphoric acid , natural flavor , caffeine flavor

Most variants, such as Coca-Cola light, differ on the label mainly in the use of sweeteners . In Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovenia, Croatia and Slovakia, glucose - fructose syrup is used instead of sugar.

100 ml cola contains an average of 10.6 g sugar (corresponds to about 3 sugar cubes) and 10 mg caffeine (for comparison: 100 ml filter coffee contains about 64–96 mg caffeine.) Although caffeine is a pharmacologically active substance, beverages must which contain less than 15 mg / 100 ml caffeine do not show any concentration information in Germany.

Pendergrast's recipe

The American author Mark Pendergrast claims in his book "For God, Fatherland and Coca-Cola" to have found the original Coca-Cola recipe. It came from the pen of Thomas, who was employed by Pemberton. Since the same recipe was given to a chemist who was supposed to remove the brown color from Coke, it can be assumed that this is the original recipe. According to him, coke is prepared as follows:

  • 1 ounce of caffeine citrate
  • 1 ounce vanilla extract
  • 2½ ounces of essence
  • enough caramel

The essence consists of:

  • 80 teaspoons of orange oil
  • 120 teaspoons of lime oil
  • 40 tsp nutmeg oil

Mix the caffeinic acid and lime juice in 1 quart of boiling water, add the vanilla and essences as soon as it has cooled.

The recipe doesn't say what happens to the sugar, coca extract, caramel or the rest of the water.

Since Pendergrast claims that his recipe is for 2.5 gallons of cola and that Poundstone's recipe is exactly the same, only for just 1 gallon, it is concluded that the amount of Pendergrast "sufficient caramel" given here is the same amount of Poundstone's recipe, only times 2½, is. In other words: “Sufficient caramel” in Pendergrast's recipe is nothing more than 37 g of caramel, which you need for a gallon, times 2½ = 92.5 g of caramel (the amount for 2½ gallons).

Poundstones' recipe

According to Mark Pendergrast, the instant ingredients for 1 gallon , if not in the right amount, correspond to William Poundstones' recipe printed in his book Big Secrets :

Dissolve sugar in just enough water. Soak coca leaf and kola nuts in 22 grams of 20% alcohol, then filter and add the liquid to the syrup.

Making the Essence (7X Essences):

Mix with 4.9 g of 95 percent alcohol, add 2.7 g of water, leave to steep for 24 hours at approx. 15 ° C. A cloudy layer falls out. Take the clear part of the liquid and add it to the syrup. Add enough water to make 1 gallon of syrup. Mix one ounce of syrup with carbonated water to make 6.5 ounces of liquid.

According to statements that the company has already made, this formula is wrong with at least three quantities:

  • 13.2 g of phosphoric acid instead of 11 g
  • 1.86 g vanilla extract instead of 1.5 g
  • 91.99 g caramel instead of 37 g

Consequences for health

Sugar and acid

Coca-Cola contains 10.6 g of sugar per 100 ml (corresponds to 43.2% of the daily dose recommended by the World Health Organization ) and has a physiological calorific value of approx. 176  kJ / 100 g (= 42  kcal / 100 g, corresponds to 2% of the recommended daily dose). Because of its sugar content , frequent consumption of cola can promote overweight , obesity and diabetes .

The sugar as well as the phosphoric acid in Coca-Cola can lead to tooth damage , since constant acid wash erodes the tooth enamel .

As medicine

There is no evidence of positive effects in diarrheal diseases . The recommendation to drink cola is based on the fact that the sugar contained should ensure that the body supplies table salt again via a glucose-sodium chloride cotransporter (e.g. SGLT1 ). In the common secretory forms of diarrhea (e.g. traveller's diarrhea ), electrolytes and fluids are lost into the interior of the intestine, which leads to dehydration . First of all, this theoretical effect can be achieved not only with cola, but also with any other sugary drink. Furthermore, there are drinking solutions in the pharmacy (similar to the WHO drinking solution ) which are much better suited for rehydration purposes, since cola contains too much sugar and too few electrolytes and a well-balanced electrolyte supply cannot be achieved even with pretzel sticks. Severe dehydration cannot be corrected by oral rehydration alone.


100 ml Coca-Cola contains 10 mg caffeine. Sensitive people should not drink caffeinated beverages such as coffee , tea or cola in the evening , because caffeine inhibits the parasympathetic nervous system , which ensures relaxation and a regular digestion. However, the caffeine content of Coca-Cola is significantly lower than z. B. that of coffee. Average filter coffee contains approx. 30 to 70 mg caffeine per 100 ml, depending on the preparation.


The 2006 Framingham Osteoporosis Study suggests that frequent ingestion of colas, but not other carbonated beverages, can significantly weaken bones in women. The authors of the study attribute this to the high proportion of phosphoric acid, which prevents the body from absorbing calcium and promotes the excretion of the mineral. The caffeine contained in cola has also been linked to osteoporosis in the past . The study also showed that the caffeine-free cola consumed by some of the test subjects had less of an impact on the mineral content of the bones.


Phosphoric acid is suspected to trigger hyperactivity , nervousness and concentration disorders in children.

Potassium deficiency

In a specialist article published in 2009 by scientists from the University of Ioannina , several case studies are listed in which excessive consumption of cola led to a serious potassium deficiency with the consequence of fatigue and muscle paralysis , including cardiac arrhythmias . It is believed that the potassium deficiency is caused by an interplay of the ingredients glucose, fructose and caffeine. Restricting the consumption of cola while taking potassium supplements at the same time usually leads to rapid and complete recovery.


Coca-Cola light contains the sweetener aspartame . The FDA evaluated a large number of toxicological and clinical studies on aspartame and in 1981 declared its use to be safe provided a dose of 50 mg / kg body weight / day is not exceeded. The EU limit value was set at 40 mg / kg body weight / day. In practical terms, 40 mg / kg body weight for a person weighing 70 kg means about 266 sweetener tablets, or 26.6 liters of Diet Coke, that would have to be taken in one day. There are controversial opinions about other possible health hazards associated with the use of aspartame. In February 2011, the European Food Safety Authority published a study which found aspartame to be safe.

Aspartame is a source of phenylalanine and should only be taken in limited doses by people with the metabolic disease phenylketonuria , as they cannot break down phenylalanine in the body. For this reason, the words "contains a source of phenylalanine" are added to the bottle labels for aspartame .

Coca-Cola as a mixed drink

Coca-Cola is mixed with a number of other beverages around the world. In gastronomy, it is often offered mixed with spirits . The from Coca-Cola and rum produced highball called Cuba Libre . In combination with red wine , the mixture has been given different names in different countries. The term calimocho is often used internationally for this . In Austria the mixture of Coca-Cola and red wine is called Bonanza or Fezzi . In Hamburg in 2009 the football club FC St. Pauli launched a pre-produced Coca-Cola red wine mixture in bottles under the product name Kalte Muschi as the club's official cold drink.

Colombian death squad charges

In July 2001, the Coca-Cola company was charged with allegedly using right-wing political death squads (the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia) to kidnap, torture and kill Colombian bottlers associated with union activities. Coca-Cola has been sued by the Colombian Food and Drink Union Sinaltrainal in a US federal court in Miami. The lawsuit alleged that Coca-Cola was indirectly responsible for "contracting or otherwise directing" paramilitary security forces who used extreme violence and murdered, tortured, illegally detained or otherwise silenced union leaders. This sparked campaigns to boycott Coca-Cola in the UK, US, Germany, Italy and Australia. Javier Correa, president of Sinaltrainal, said the campaign aims to put pressure on Coca-Cola "to alleviate the pain and suffering" union members have endured.

Speaking from Coca-Cola's Atlanta headquarters, company spokesman Rafael Fernandez Quiros said, "Coca-Cola denies any link to this type of human rights abuse," adding, "We do not own or operate the facilities."

A documentary on the controversy called The Coca-Cola Case was published in 2010.


Aggressive substance

Meat, teeth or bones pickled in Coca-Cola will not dissolve. This rumor was supposedly circulated by German competitors during the Nazi era. This myth goes back to the effect that meat swells when it is pickled. This is how the Rheinische Sauerbraten is prepared , for example . The phosphoric acid in Coca-Cola has the same effect. It gives the drink its characteristic, sour and therefore refreshing taste. Phosphoric acid is not only found in Coca-Cola, but also in a. also found in cheese, bread, milk and eggs.

However, you can actually remove rust from a rusty nail or key by soaking it in Coca-Cola for about 48 hours, because the phosphoric acid it contains is an effective rust converter . Even coins that have become cloudy can be cleaned with Coca-Cola; however, other acidic drinks have the same effect.

See also


  • Amanda Ciafone: Counter-Cola: A Multinational History of the Global Corporation. University of California Press, Berkeley 2019, ISBN 978-0-520-29902-3 .
  • Andrea Exler: Coca-Cola. From home-brewed stimulants to American icons. European Publishing House, Hamburg 2006, ISBN 3-434-46810-2 .
  • Maja Kraas: Product liability and warnings: a legal economic analysis using the example of Coca-Cola. Lang, Frankfurt a. M. 2004, ISBN 3-631-52360-2 .
  • Siegfried Pater: Sugar water: from the Coca-Cola empire. Retap, Bonn 2002, ISBN 3-931988-09-0 .
  • David Greising: The world should drink Coca-Cola: this is how Roberto Goizueta made Coca-Cola No. 1. Verlag Moderne Industrie, Landsberg / Lech 1999, ISBN 3-478-36720-4 .
  • Mark Pendergrast: For God, Fatherland and Coca-Cola. Heyne, Munich 1995, ISBN 3-453-08784-4 .
  • Ulf Biedermann: An American dream: Coca-Cola: the unbelievable story of a 100-year success. Rasch and Röhring , Hamburg 1985, ISBN 3-89136-044-4 .
  • Helmut Fritz: The Gospel of Refreshment: Coca-Cola, the story of a branded product. Research focus mass media u. Communication to d. Univ. Siegen, 1980.
  • Christa Murken-Altrogge: Advertising, myth, art: using the example of Coca-Cola. Wasmuth, Tübingen 1977, ISBN 3-8030-3023-4 .
  • Peter HC Mutke: Experimental studies on the psychophysical influence of Coca-Cola on people who are influenced by alcohol. Heidelberg 1953, university thesis: Heidelberg, Med. F., Diss. April 18, 1953 (Not f. D. Aust.)

Web links

Commons : Coca-Cola  - album with pictures, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: Coca-Cola  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

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  52. 1 ounce = 28.35 g
  53. FE stands for Fluid Extract, i.e. for the coca leaf extract
  54. 1 quart = 946.35 ml
  55. 1 lb ( pound ) = 453.6 g
  56. 1 US gallon = 3.785 L.
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