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.
Coca-Cola Quotes in A History of the World in Six Glasses
Ultimately, [Coke and Pepsi] benefited from each other’s existence: the existence of a rival kept Coca-Cola on its toes, and Pepsi-Cola’s selling proposition, that it offered twice as much for the same price, was only possible because Coca-Cola had established the market in the first place. The rivalry was a classic example of how vigorous competition can benefit consumers and increase demand.
Coca-Cola came to stand for everything that was deemed wrong with capitalism, particularly the notion that satisfying consumers’ often trivial demands should be the organizing principle of the economy.
Coca-Cola is unquestionably the drink of the twentieth century, and all that goes with it: the rise of the United Sates, the triumph of capitalism over consumerism, and the advance of globalization. Whether you approve of that mixture or not, you cannot deny the breadth of its appeal.