10 Things You Never Knew About Coca-Cola

It’s not just a drink anymore: after 132 years on the market, Coca-Cola has become an icon of popular culture. For many people, the brand brings to mind many different things – a classic image of America, consumerism, of course Christmastime – but for everyone it means the same thing: delicious, caffeine-based refreshment.

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The Coca-Cola Company has a storied history to match the enormous reputation. Here are ten things you never knew about the world’s favourite (except Scotland) soft drink.

10. The drink is sold in more countries than any other product

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Coca-Cola claims on its website that its product is sold in more than 200 countries worldwide. Though this is unlikely, considering there are only 195 countries in the world today, coke is still the most widely distributed product on the planet, surpassing even McDonald’s.

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9. There’s only one country in the world where you can’t buy it

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Up until only recently, there were just two countries in the world where you couldn’t get Coca-Cola: North Korea and Cuba. With relations between the US and Cuba having improved in the last few years, however, the company has begun to plan for a comeback in the Cuban market – meaning the DPRK is the last country on the planet not to sell Coca-Cola.

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8. Cocaine really did used to be a main ingredient

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Back when Coca-Cola was first on the market, the drink was sold as a nerve tonic that could ‘relieve fatigue’. This was no false marketing either: up until 1903, Coca-Cola’s ingredients included five ounces of unprocessed coca leaf per gallon, meaning every glass of Coca-Cola would contain roughly nine milligrams of cocaine (or about a fifth of a typical ‘line’).

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7. The name and logo were created by the Coke inventor’s accountant

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Coca-Cola was first brought into this world by a pharmacist from Atlanta, Georgia named John Pemberton, in 1886, though the drink didn’t go by that name at first. While Pemberton was responsible for the recipe, he turned to his bookkeeper, Frank Robinson, for the name and logo. Robinson chose Coca-Cola because it sounded “euphonious”, and wrote the logo himself in Spencerian script, giving us the distinctive emblem that can still be seen today.

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6. Even if you drank one a day, it would take you nine years to try all of Coca-Cola’s products

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Coca-Cola isn’t the only product that’s made by Coca-Cola. The Coca-Cola Company’s portfolio in 2018 includes more than 3,500 different beverages, with the assorted brands including Sprite, Fanta, Powerade and Minute Maid. If you tried all of Coca-Cola’s drinks at a rate of one every day, it would still take you nine years to get through them all.

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5. ‘Coca-Cola’ is the second most recognised word in the world

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Because Coca-Cola is everywhere – literally, almost, while culturally the brand is one of the most well-known on the planet – it goes without saying that the name has entered the global lexicon. It is thought that ‘Coca-Cola’ (or ‘Coke’) is the second most recognised word in the world. Only the universally-recognised ‘OK’ beats it.

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4. The Coca-Cola Company invented the coupon

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Asa Candler, the American industrialist who founded the Coca-Cola Company, was also – allegedly – the father of the coupon. In 1887, Candler first had the idea of handing out free Coke coupons as a promotional strategy, thus popularising the method. Between 1888 and 1913, 8.5 million Cokes were given away in exchange for Candler’s coupons.

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3. No, Coca-Cola didn’t give us a red Santa

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It’s often stated that Santa Claus, as depicted in modern western culture, went from traditionally wearing a green outfit to a red one solely because of ubiquitous Coca-Cola ads that kept portraying St Nick in Coke red. This is actually a myth: Coca-Cola released its first Santa ad in 1931, whereas a red-and-white Santa had by the early 20th century already become a familiar image.

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2. Coke II may still be available to buy in some parts of the world

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In 1985, Coca-Cola made the disastrous decision to change the recipe for Coke, resulting in a backlash that saw the original Coke back on shelves within months. New Coke – later renamed Coke II – stuck around for a little while longer but was soon discontinued altogether. Or perhaps not, at least in some parts of the world: it was rumoured until only recently that the infamous, now-mythical Coke II could still be bought in Micronesia, Samoa and Quebec.

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1. Coca-Cola was the first soft drink consumed in space

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In the 1980s, having just about covered world domination (this was back when Cuba and Myanmar were still holding out), the Coca-Cola Company looked to new frontiers. On July 12, 1985, astronauts on the Space Shuttle Challenger tried Coca-Cola cans designed especially for drinking in outer space, making Coke the first soft drink to be consumed off-world.

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