11 Shocking Facts of Coca Cola to Make Your Jaw Drop

(Last Updated On: August 3, 2018)

We all want to enjoy life. We all want to have the energy and vitality to do the things we want to do and the things we have to do. This means that we need to be in good health. Everyone has periods of being in good health, times where they are unwell and maybe even seriously ill. We can control the status of our health to some extent by having a healthy lifestyle. The better the lifestyle we lead, the better our health becomes, and we are more likely to be free of disease and illness.

We need to take care of our physical health, by taking regular exercise. We need to look after our social health by having and maintaining good relationships with the people around us. Our mental health is maintained by being able to learn and have positive life experiences.

Being healthy is not just about going to the gym or eating fruit and vegetables. Being healthy is about wellness; having a good quality of life and taking responsibility for our health by taking steps to stay fit and healthy on a daily basis.

A huge part of being healthy, and staying healthy, is to be mindful about what we eat. These days, a lot of manufactured food is over-processed and laden with sugar, fat and salt. Sugar in particular has received a bad press in recent years. Now, research has shown that it is sugar that damages health and makes people overweight, and it is now the white stuff that is demonised instead of fat.

The sugar addiction

The western diet contains around 25-35% processed sugar in some form or another. This spells very bad news for our health. When we consume sugar, glucose rushes into the bloodstream and the pancreas produces more insulin to try and mop it up. This creates the familiar ‘sugar rush’ we have probably all experienced at one time or another. But what goes up must come down, and when the insulin has done its job, blood sugar levels crash, leaving us with a sluggish feeling. This drop in blood sugar might lead us to seek out sweet treats to perk us up again and so begins the vicious cycle.

Our massive sugar consumption has been found to be the cause behind many cases of high blood pressure, heart disease, type 2 diabetes and obesity. Sugar has even been found to inhibit the actions of the immune system, so if you frequently pick up minor illnesses, your sugar consumption could be to blame.

Sugar is difficult to avoid and you will find it in almost every processed foodstuff, even in products you might not automatically think of as being sugary. Yes we know that sugar is a dominant ingredient in cakes, biscuits and chocolate, but did you think about bread, cereals and crackers? The only way you can avoid taking in too much sugar is to make all of your own meals with fresh ingredients. Sugar substitutes such as Stevia exist now, and meals can be sweetened with natural ingredients with their own natural sweet taste, such as fruit, dates and sweet potatoes.

Experts believe that it is the ‘hidden’ sugars we consume that probably do most damage. We all know that we should avoid eating biscuits and cakes, but sugar is hidden in a lot of ‘healthy’ foods in some form or another. Hands up if you have ever read ‘fructose’ or ‘corn syrup’ on a food label? These are used often by the food industry to improve how things taste. They will often be used instead of sugar in low fat foods, which might go some way to explaining the correlation between an increase of people on low fat diets and the prevalence of obesity.

Scientists believe that many people may actually be addicted to sugar. A French study found that rats who were addicted to cocaine, had a preference for taking sugar, even when offered the cocaine. They concluded that our tastebuds are not designed to decipher such high levels of sweetness as exists in the western diet these days. The result is that tastebuds are literally sent into overdrive by overly sweetened foods, and so signals get sent to our brain’s’ reward centre, telling us ‘this is delicious, you have to eat more!’. So begins the cycle of eating sweet treats, getting a sugar high, experiencing an energy dip then eating more sugar to lift us again. Here lies the addiction.

This doesn’t mean we need to give up our favourite treats completely though. Dieticians agree that sugar is fine if it is eaten in moderation and as part of an overall balanced diet. They do, however, highlight concerns about the amount of sugary drinks we consume. It is thought that consumption of fizzy, sugary drinks makes it harder to keep tabs on our calorie intake and so contributes to obesity.

The rise and rise of Coca Cola

Coca Cola

Coca Cola is one of the most recognised brand names in the world. The company produces many other products, but Coca Cola is still its most popular and well-known product. The  Coca Cola recipe is a trade secret and was originally created in Georgia. John Pemberton was the original creator of ‘Pemberton’s French Wine Coca’, as it was known then. He created the original product during the prohibition era and it was supposed to be a non-alcoholic drink option.

When the drink was first sold, it was sold at a Pharmacy in Atlanta in the 1880’s. The creator of the beverage claimed that the drink could cure diseases, impotence and headaches, and was touted as being an alternative to morphine!

Coca Cola was originally sold at soda fountains, but soon became available to buy in glass bottles. The famous shaped bottle was not developed and used until many years later however.

It’s not an urban legend that cocaine was a part of the original recipe either! When Coca Cola was first invented, there was five ounces of coca leaf in each gallon of cola syrup. Cocaine is derived from the same coca plant. The amount of coca leaf in the drink was reduced and then removed from the recipe in 1903. These days, Coca Cola is made with a completely cocaine- free extract from the coca leaf.

The Kola nut is one of the other main ingredients in the Coca Cola recipe. The nut gives the drink it’s distinctive taste and a hit of caffeine. The Coca Cola company has survived many lawsuits, brought by individuals citing that the product is deliberately addictive and that it causes obesity, but it has adapted its offerings in recent years to acknowledge that a more sophisticated and health conscious customer base was demanding lighter alternatives to its original product. If you look on the shelves of any given supermarket today, you will see various alternatives to original Coke, including Diet Coke, caffeine free Coke, Cola Life (made with a sugar substitute)  and Coke with various flavours added, such as vanilla, cherry and lime.


11 facts about coca cola you probably never knew

The Coca-Cola company is almost always thought of as being some huge corporate machine that rolls on and makes fortunes from all of us sugar addicts guzzling their drinks to feed our addictions. There have been many ‘scandals’ and claims made about the company and its most well-known product over the years. You will have seen some of them online; the tooth left in a glass of Coke overnight that has rotted away by morning, people using Coca Cola as an effective toilet cleaner. Whether you buy into these or not, there are some facts about Coca Cola which might just make your jaw drop!


At one point, Coca Cola did contain cocaine!

Production of the original recipe involved using liquid extracted from coca leaves, so a small amount of cocaine was present in the recipes in the 1800’s. The producers of the product thought that it was not right that the product should be named Coca Cola and have no coca leaf in it at all and they tried to reassure consumers that the cocaine was present in such small amounts that it wouldn’t cause them any harm!


A 1980’s Coke Advert had to be shelved due to obscenity!

An obscene image was inserted covertly into a Coca Cola poster by an artist in the 1980’s. The poster was for an ad campaign in South Australia and was supposed to be advertising the introduction of the famous shaped Coke bottle. Businesses who were in receipt of the poster complained to company executives, who immediately pulled the campaign. The offending artist was duly fired and sued. Oops.  


Coca-Cola was once boycotted and accused of Anti-Semitism

Decades ago, some large global firms refused to trade with Israel for fear of upsetting the lucrative business they conducted with the other Arab states. It was actually illegal to boycott Israel, but there were so many loopholes in the law, companies did this at will. Coca Cola claimed that the reason they would not trade with Israel was because the Israeli Government had not allowed them to operate a bottling plant in the region. In the 1960’s, a bottling operations manager from the company stated to the press that Israel would never have a Coca Cola franchise. This brought about accusations that the company was anti-semitic. This angered some Jewish establishments in the United States who duly stopped serving Coca Cola.


The famous Coca-Cola bottle was actually inspired by a cacao seed pod

Coca Cola’s distinctive hourglass shaped bottle is not based on a woman’s body shape, contrary to popular belief.  In the early 1900’s, Coca-Cola’s  bottles had a standard shape like many of the other soda bottles in existence. They had a paper label, which obviously peeled off if they were put into a water cooler, so the company decided that the bottles needed a redesign. The company held a designing competition, and a plant manager in Indiana came up with the idea of designing the bottle with the Coke ingredients in mind. Information on neither the coca leaf nor the kola nut was available to those who came up with the idea, but they did find images of the cacao pod and the new Coca Cola bottle was born.


Coca-Cola controversially conducted business with Nazi Germany and sponsored the anti-LGBT Winter olympics in Sochi.


Several large US firms operated in Nazi Germany, and some of Coca Cola’s executives actually became members of the Nazi party. German Coca Cola plants created Fanta especially for Germany when they could not get access to the ingredients for Coke.

In 2014, Coca-Cola sponsored the controversial Sochi Winter olympics. There were many calls for the games to be boycotted due to the Russia’s stance on the acceptance of LGBT lifestyles in their country. They passed a law banning ‘propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations to minors’ prior to the games. LGBT groups called for Coke to be boycotted which forced Coke to post an open letter on its website claiming how inclusive it was as a brand.


Martin Luther King, Jr. Called For A Boycott Of Coca-Cola The Day Before He Died

Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered a famous speech, “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop,” in 1968. It’s most famous as he was assassinated the next day, but in it, he called for the boycott of Coca Cola as well. He said that Coca Cola was ‘white goods’ and a racist business, and to boycott the beverage would be a good non-violent means of protest. He drew attention to the fact that white workers in the company’s’ factories were getting paid much better than their black coworkers. Today, Coca Cola boasts one of the world’s most diverse workforces.


Coca-Cola was originally marketed as a cure for impotence and morphine addiction!

 John Pemberton, the inventor of Coca Cola, was injured in the civil war. He became addicted to the morphine he was using for pain and began to look for a substitute that wasn’t as addictive as opiates. Coca Cola was first sold in a pharmacy, and touted as a medicine that could cure diseases like acid reflux, headaches, and impotence.  


In India, Coca-Cola was accused of damaging water supplies

In 2003,  environmental researchers in Delhi found that water used by Coca Cola in it’s drinks production contained pesticides. These pesticides were found to cause cancer and problems with the immune system. Coca Cola denied that this was true, but still lost sales over the furore. Lawsuits have been brought against the company by groups in other parts of India who have accused the company of degrading the water supply. So far, none of these lawsuits have found liability to rest with the company.


Coca-Cola once campaigned against tap water

In early 2000, Coca-Cola was found to be running a campaign to persuade diners at restaurants to choose ‘more profitable’ drinks instead of tap water. They taught waiters techniques to persuade customers to opt for drinks like carbonated water and soft drinks instead. The company attempted to keep this a secret, but they were found out, thanks to an article on their PR site. The press found out and the company received much criticism.


The extent of Coca Cola’s reach

3.1% of all beverages consumed around the world are produced by Coca Cola. Of 55 billion beverages drunk each day, 1.7 billion are Coca-Cola trademarked/licensed products

In fact, Coke makes so many different products, even if you drank one per day, it would take you over 9 years to try them all!


The world’s fattest nation?

Ever wonder how the United States earns this unflattering reputation? This might go some way to explaining why.

Americans drink an average of 399 servings of Coca Cola’s beverages each year. With 39 grams of sugar per serving, this means that on average, every American consumes 4.9 kilograms of sugar per year!  


Final thoughts

We live in a capitalist society. We are bombarded with advertising from the big brands every day. And they don’t come bigger than Coca Cola. The brand is one of the world’s most well known, and spends more on advertising than Apple and Microsoft combined. So their reach is pretty spectacular. But just because they are a giant corporation, it doesn’t mean that we have to buy their products. Like with any decision to purchase a product, we weigh up the pros and cons, then buy it based on an informed judgement. We should take responsibility for all aspects of our lives, including our health. That is not negotiable. We get one body, one life; we need to look after it. We are absolutely in control of what we consume, even if we have the Coca Cola ads to tell us to buy their products. There is no harm in enjoying a sugary treat now and again, as long as it does not become a habit, or form a large part of your diet.

All things in moderation is a commonly repeated phrase, but it’s a really good mantra to live by.

Written by Irina Radosevic MD
Irina graduated from the University of Belgrade, School of Medicine as a Doctor of Medicine (MD) and spent over 3 years working in the Clinical Hospital Center Zvezdara, in the Department of Emergency Medicine. She also undertook a postgraduate in Cardiology from the same University and had previously worked for over a year as a Physician and Nutritionist Dietitian for the Fitness club Green Zone. She eventually left her chaotic but fulfilling job in the ER to pursue her passion of writing, travelling and mountain climbing which has included writing a first aid course for the alpine club of Belgrade. Irina currently works as a VA for PintMedia focusing on medical and travel writing. Feel free to connect with Irina on LinkedIn and FaceBook. Her CV can be seen here.