There's just nothing quite like the cold, refreshing taste of Coca-Cola. Or maybe you prefer one of their other thousands of products instead. Either way, the Coke company is literally almost everywhere. Their big red and white logo is recognized all over the world and their namesake beverage is served in over two hundred countries. In fact, the Coca-Cola company is the largest beverage company in the world and their iconic logo is recognized by a whopping ninety-four percent of the world's population. That's more than any other brand or company in existence. I'm sure there's no award that can quite live up to being the most recognized brand in history!
One thing that is so great about this company is that its products are consumed by rich and poor alike; there's no wage gap holding back anyone from being able to enjoy a nice cold Coke (or any other beverage made by this company.) The Coca-Cola company has been in business for over a hundred and thirty years, sharing not only the great, refreshing taste Coke, but thousands of other beverages as well. Even though it's one of the most recognizable brands in the world, there's still plenty you probably don't know about the company and it's iconic first drink, Coke. So, grab you a cold Coke to sip on while you learn these 20 fun facts you didn't know about Coca-Cola.
1. The Invention of Coca-Cola
Way back in the year 1886, which is now a hundred and thirty-two years ago, John Stith Pemberton, who was actually a pharmacist, created Coca-Cola. He began serving it at Jacobs' Pharmacy where he worked. The carbonated beverage caught on quickly in his small town; nine drinks were sold each and every day that first year. Frank Robinson, who was the company's accountant and who also had beautiful penmanship, not only penned the famous logo, but he also named the drink. Because of its two most important ingredients, coca plant and kola nuts, he thought Coca-Cola would be a perfect fit. Plus, he also believed the two Cs would look great in advertising, which it turns out, he was extremely right, and so he went on to pen the famous logo which he wrote in flowing Spencerian script that has become such the famous logo the company (and drink) still bear today.
2. The Cocaine Controversy
As mentioned before, the iconic drink got its name from two of its ingredients which were considered to be medicinal at the time, an extract derived from the leaves of the coca plant and kola nuts. The coca plant also produces cocaine, or at least it's the main ingredient in the drug. So, in the beginning, the drug wasn't removed prior to it being turned into a tasty beverage. However, it's hard to determine exactly how much cocaine was actually in the original formulation.
What you need to realize is that back then (1886), it was common for cocaine to be used in patented medicines and medicinal elixirs. In fact, it was quite often used to break opiate addiction, erectile dysfunction, and general fatigue. Nonetheless, as the negative effects of the drug began coming to light, the chemists at Coca-Cola did what they could to lower its amount with what technology they had at the time, which left only trace amounts. By 1902, the amount of cocaine left in the soft drink was infinitesimal and by the time the drug was completely eliminated in 1929, there had been hardly any left to remove anyway. To put this in terms that can be better understood, there would have been about one tenth of a gram per twenty-five million gallons of syrup. By then it was the caffeine and sugar that was "waking" people up and not the cocaine.
3. General Information
The company has its headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia. However, it was incorporated in Wilmington, Delaware. Coca-Cola is an American multi-national multi-beverage corporation, in addition to manufacturing, retailing, and marketing non-alcoholic beverages, concentrates, and syrups. Of course, the company is best known for its original beverage for which the company is named, Coca-Cola, and some people really have no idea just how giant the company is and how many beverages besides Coke that they produce. The famous soda was invented by Pemberton in Columbus, Georgia, as mentioned above, but the brand and its formula were purchased by Asa Griggs Candler in 1889 who went on to incorporate the company in 1892.
4. The First Coupon
The Coca-Cola company is believed to have also invented the concept of the coupon. In order to introduce their new tasty beverage, and subsequently promote sales, the company distributed coupons good for one free drink in late 1886/early 1887. The company believes this to be the reason the drink caught on so quickly, spreading from Atlanta's small population to encompass every state in the United States within just a couple of years. It's estimated that during their coupon promotion that one in every ten Cokes was given away for free. That's a LOT of free Coke! Of course, this turned out to be brilliant marketing strategy. Sure, they gave away a tremendous amount of product, but look where they are today. There's hardly a person alive who hasn't tasted the refreshing beverage or at the least, heard of it.
5. Thank Coke For Santa
The jolly and plump image of Santa Claus in his red suit which we all know and love today is all thanks to the Coca-Cola company. When the company began its Christmas advertising back in the 1920s, it was in order to raise sales that generally dwindled during the winter months. The company used several holiday images until they finally hit upon a dandy of a winner in 1931 when Haddon Sundblom, their illustrator, decided to paint a jolly, plump image of Santa wearing a red suit. He based the image on the poem "A Visit From St. Nicholas" written by Clement Moore in addition to his own Scandinavian heritage. This proved to not only boost sales of Coke, but also to give us the image of Santa as we all now know him. Previously, images of Santa had him wearing greens and browns and he ranged in size from skinny to humongous. Sundblom's illustration just hit on an image of Saint Nick that stuck, giving us our Santa of today.
6. Random Trivia
Did you know that there has been so much Coca-Cola produced that if it were to replace the water in Niagara Falls, cascading at its normal rate, which is a little over a million and a half gallons per second, the Coke waterfall would flow continuously for almost eighty-three full hours! In case you're wondering exactly how much Coke that is, it's almost five hundred trillion gallons! Boy, we sure are a thirsty bunch, aren't we?
In addition, there has been so much Coca-cola produced, that if all of it were to be put in eight ounce contour bottles, there would be enough for every single person in the world to have over one thousand and a hundred each! If those same eight ounce bottles were to be laid end to end, they could make over two thousand round trips to the moon and back!
Need another totally random fact? Coke is awesome to clean with! A lot of people already know this, apparently, but it's still valuable information that needs to be stated here. The soft drink is a great cleaning tool. Use it to remove rust from your toilet, leaving it spotless. Clean any rusty item by submerging it some good, bubbling Coke overnight and scrub it clean the next day!
7. All Jokes Aside
It may be funny thinking about using Coke to clean your toilet, but what is no joke is how much money the Coca-Cola brand is worth, which is an estimated eight-four billion dollars. They're worth more than Pepsi, KFC, Subway, and Budweiser combined. In fact, if you want to get technical, the Coca-Cola company is technically the eighty-fourth largest power in the world, one space ahead of Costa Rica, thanks to banking over thirty-five billion dollars in revenue. However, advertising for Coca-Cola is completely outrageous, especially considering how well-known the brand is. The company spends about three billion in advertising every year.
8. Powerhouse Conglomerate
The reason they have to spend so much on in advertising each year is because Coca-Cola company does so much more than produce Coca-Cola. In fact, the beverage giant owns over twenty different brands which each generate over a billion dollars in revenue each and every year. The following is a list of twenty of those brands:
- Bon Aqua
- Coca-Cola Zero
- Del Valle
- Diet Coke
- Fuze Tea
- Glaceau Vitamin Water
- Georgia Coffee
- Gold Peak
- I LOHAS
- Minute Maid
- Minute Maid Pulpy
9. And That's Not All
Even though the previous list of twenty companies that make Coca-Cola so much money each year is quite impressive, that's not even close to being all of their brands and products. In fact, the Coca-Cola company sells close to four thousand different beverage alternatives on over five hundred brands. Their beverages include not only soft drinks, but also energy drinks, juices, and soy-based drinks, just to name a few. Look at it this way, you could drink something different produced by the Coca-Cola company every day for ten years and there would still be beverages left that you hadn't tried! Together, these drinkables bring the Coke company over forty billion dollars in revenue annually, with at least six and half billion of that in profits.
10. What's Good For the Company
What's good for the company is also good for the shareholders when it comes to the Coca-Cola company. As a matter of fact, the company is committed to passing on a large part of their profits on the those who invest in them. Year before last, the company paid out almost eight and a half million dollars to its shareholders through share repurchases and dividends. Last year, the company raised the dividend, again, for the fifty-fifth consecutive year. This means that in that last fifty-five years, everyone who was invested in the Coca-Cola Company, not only received a return each year, but it also increased every year as well.
11. Everyone Understands Coke
What do we mean by that? Well, not only have studies shown that Coca-Cola is one of the most admired, most known trademarks in the world, but also it's been documenting that the words "Coca-Cola" are the second most widely recognized and understood terms in the world. The only word more recognized and understand is "okay". Okay, that's just crazy! Right??!?
12. Everybody's Doing It
Every single day there are about fifty-seven billion servings of a variety of beverages being drank every single day. This doesn't even include water. Amazingly, almost two million of those refreshing drinks, or just over three percent, are either licensed or trademarked by Coca-Cola. In fact, it is the most universally distributed product in the world. There are almost twenty-thousand beverages sold every single second that are products of the Coca-Cola company.
You probably would imagine that with that kind of popularity, that anywhere you go, you'd be able to enjoy a nice cold Coke. However, you would be wrong! There are actually two countries where they don't allow Coca-Cola and you won't find the soda anywhere and that's North Korea and Cuba, so, don't go there if you have to have your Coke!
If you want to go hang out with the biggest Coke drinkers around, then head to Mexico. On average, the people who drink the most Coke are generally Mexicans; they drink about seventy hundred and forty-five a year, opposed to Americans, who only drink about four-hundred. Come on, America! We need to do some catching up! Drink a Coke!
13. Iconic Coke Commercials
If it's possible for a product to change the world with a single commercial, then Coke has done it several times. Some of the Coca-Cola Company commercials have become icons, forever associated with the frosty beverage, and considered to be some of the best television ads ever made.
In 1971, it was the "I'd like to buy the world a coke" commercial, also referred to as the Hilltop. The New Seekers, who were a very popular Australian folk music group at the time, recorded the ad's famous song. The ad became an instant classic, filmed on a hilltop near Rome where a diverse group of young people came together to sing the iconic song. The group went on to remove references to the soft drink and added the song to one of their albums, but the song would forever be known for the Coke commercial.
Next, the memorable meeting between a young kid and legendary, albeit battered and after a tough game, Mean Joe Greene, who was heading to the locker rooms of his Pittsburgh Steeler team for which he was a defensive lineman. The kid offers the tired looking player his Coke and Greene, after taking a sip of the cold soft drink, throws the kid his jersey. This commercial aired in 1979 and became one of the most famous and classic Super Bowl ads ever. In addition, the commercial, which depicted a warmer side of "Mean" Joe Greene, changed his reputation forever.
Last, the famous Coca-Cola polar bears have become popular icons for the company ever since the "Northern Lights" commercial first aired in 1993. The animated bears were a product of the Rhythm and Hues production company who used their most current tech in order to bring the bears to life, and for making them ever-thirsty and Coke-loving, as well. Since then, numerous polar bear commercials have been added to the list. In fact, the bears have become a popular Christmas sight.
14. In Space
Even though very few people can say they've traveled into space, Coke can. Back in 1985, the soft drink traveled into space. The company wanted their Space Can, made to be making drinking it possible in zero gravity, to be tested out by astronauts aboard the Space Shuttle Challenger. Even though you can drink a cold Coke practically anywhere on Earth, apparently in space it's a whole different matter. The Coca-Cola company decided to change that. They created the first soft drink to be consumed in space thanks to their technology in making Space Can.
15. Secret Recipe
The recipe for Coca-Cola is still a secret and it's probably one of the best kept secrets in the entire world. The recipe has basically been the same for over a hundred and thirty years, yet the secret has never been revealed to the public. As a matter of fact, the actual written recipe is sealed in a vault, not unlike those seen in a bank or casino, keeping its secret safe. The folks at Coca-Cola take the recipe's secret very seriously.
Another thing the makers of Coke take very seriously is the actually drinking of the soft drink. They say the optimal temperature to drink a nice, cold Coca-Cola at is between thirty-four and thirty-eight degrees (Fahrenheit.)
16. Giving Back
The Coca-Cola company seems to be committed to giving back to the community as well. The company gives one percent of the total operating income every year to its own Coca-Cola Foundation, which is a philanthropic organization. The foundation focuses on three main priorities: education and youth development for Well-being, conservation and recycling for Water, and economic empowerment and entrepreneurship for Women. In fact, since the foundation began, the company has donated more than eight-hundred and twenty million dollars to various charitable matters.
Furthermore, the company began partnering with The Red Cross during the first World War. In addition to operating their own community organization, they also give back to the community in another way. Coca-Cola's involvement in disaster relief, their partnership with the Red Cross, and their annual drive campaigns all are ways in which the company gives back.
17. Warren Buffet Connection
Famous frontman of Berkshire Hathaway is a big fan of Coca-Cola. The truth is, his gigantic insurance conglomerate over which he is CEO holds a large stake in the soft drink company and has for over twenty-five years. In fact, Berkshire Hathaway owns nearly ten percent of the company who churns out all that Coca-Cola. In addition, Buffet even claims (and it's rumored to be true) that he gets at least twenty-five percent of his daily calories from Coke products alone. As a matter of fact, it’s been said that Buffet drinks as many as five cans of Coca-Cola a day. There are plenty of people who drink that much Coke, but we can't prove whether or not he's one of them.
18. Olympic Sponsors
Not many brands have the worldwide presence needed to sponsor two of the world's biggest sporting events or the ability to do so, but Coca-Cola has been doing so for ninety years. The Coca-Cola company has been official sponsors of the Olympics since Amsterdam in 1928, starting out by selling their product outside the venues in kiosks. This was the start of a sponsorship that would end up lasting decades. Of course, this has led to some controversy from time to time. Most recently, though, it wasn't the soft drinks dietary concerns which were called into question, but their stance on the LGBT laws and rights. Even through the controversy, however, Coca-Cola remains an Olympic sponsor and the company is a longstanding sponsor of the Olympic Torch Relay which is always the prelude to the Olympics beginning.
Coca-Cola and the Federation Internationale de Football Association, FIFA, actually made history. The Coke company has been advertising in FIFA World Cup stadiums since the fifties, but in 1976, FIFA and Coke put together the first agreement for sponsorship between a company and an international sports governing authority. This had far-reaching results, not only for the sports entity, but also for the soft drink company and even for youth training as well. The drink company sponsors all FIFA tournaments now, not just the World Cup.
19. Coke Paying Bribes?
Whether it's true or not, it's been claimed that the soda giant paid the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) to say that their namesake soft drink wasn't bad for the teeth of children, or anyone else for that matter. It is true that the company "donated" a million dollars to the AAPD in 2003, but maybe they just wanted to help look out for kids' teeth? However, this actually led to the undoing of years and years of advice and actual evidence. Either way, I think most people know which products are better or worse for their teeth. Besides, they make toothpaste and toothbrushes for a reason.
20. The Contour Bottle
If you've ever wondered how they came up with the classic curved bottle that is so recognizable today, it was because the Coca-Cola company wanted people to be able to distinguish their soft drink from others even in the dark! They also wanted a bottle that would be distinct enough so that people could tell the "real thing" from the imitators. After all, there's just nothing like a Real Cold Coke.
In November of 1915, the soft drink's distinctive curved shape was patented after having been designed by Root Glass Company employee Alexander Samuelson. After slimming it down and modifying it a bit in order to work with current bottling equipment, the new design began to be produced by 1916. This new curved shaped was the only bottle used by the company for almost forty years until they came out with the king-size bottle, which was brought out in 1955. The shape has been used for every size packaging up, even the two-liter bottle, except for their aluminum cans, which they have recently attempted making in the iconic shape.
The US Patent Office issued the iconic contour bottle a trademark registration in 1960 and it's one of the most recognized shaped bottle in the world.
Written by Garrett Parker
Read more posts by Garrett Parker