For Standage, Coca-Cola’s status as the beverage that symbolizes America in all its glory and weakness began during the Great Depression, when the company ran a brilliant series of ads that depicted Coke as an “all-American” product, fit for the entire family to enjoy. Coke’s symbolic associations with America became still stronger when, during World War II, the company promised every American soldier a bottle of Coke—a move that resulted in the establishment of Coca-Cola facilities across the world. During the Cold War, intellectuals on the left often took aim at Coca-Cola when they wanted to attack the U.S. While the notion of associating an entire country with a mere soft drink may seem misguided, this was precisely the critics’ point: by valuing a mere soft drink so highly, they argued, the U.S. was confirming its status as a crude, ignorant nation, more interested in satisfying people’s pettiest needs than in addressing matters of right and wrong on the global stage. Standage ends his book with one of his most provocative claims: love it or hate it, Coke represents everything that’s right and wrong about America.
A History of the World in Six Glasses
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The timeline below shows where the symbol Coca-Cola appears in A History of the World in Six Glasses. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Introduction: Vital Fluids
Chapter 11: From Soda to Cola
...the history of American dominance on the global stage is mirrored in the history of Coca-Cola, sometimes seen as the ultimate symbol of American values and weaknesses. For some, Coke is... (full context)
In 1887, John Pemberton, a pharmacist living in Atlanta, Georgia, invented the earliest version of Coca Cola . It’s sometimes claimed that Pemberton was trying to invent a cure for headaches, but... (full context)
...the kola plant from West Africa, while also keeping the cocoa leaves. The result was Coca-Cola, named after the two primary ingredients in the drink. The man who named Coca-Cola was... (full context)
Chapter 12: Globalization in a Bottle
Epilogue: Back to the Source