Coke or Pepsi? History of a Global Sugar Addiction

The Cola Wars Documentary

History Channel 1990

Film Review

Coca Cola was first produced in 1886, when cocaine, morphine and alcohol were common patent medicine ingredients. The immediate predecessor to Coke was a concoction produced by Atlanta pharmacist John Pemberton called French Wine Cola, containing cocaine, alcohol and caffeine. When Atlanta outlawed alcohol sales In 1885, Pemberton left the patent medicine business to produce his renamed Coca Cola for the increasingly popular soda fountain trade. His first version combined cocaine with kola nut extract (a stimulant).

Pemberton, a cocaine addict, sold the company to another pharmacist Asa Kandler shortly before his death in 1889. Kandler added more sugar to disguise the medicinal taste and citric acid to disguise the excessive sweetness. In 1916, he began bottling it as well as dispensing syrup to soda foundations.

Pepsi Cola, Coke’s arch rival, was also invented by a pharmacist in Newburn, North Carolina in 1898. It’s name was deliberately deceptive, as it never contained either pepsin (an aid to digestion) nor kola nut extract.

During World War II, Coca Cola gained the upper hand by making an agreement with the US government to be the exclusive soft drink provider to US troops stationed in Europe and the Pacific. The agreement also exempted from the sugar ration, which virtually crippled Pepsi Cola.

In 1985, after Coke made the disastrous misstep of secretly changing the coke formula to make it taste more like Pepsi, the company faced a massive backlash from Coke drinkers, briefly making Pepsi the number one soft drink in the world. Three months later they re-introduced the original formula as “Classic Coke.”

 

Bottled Water: Neither Pure Nor Safe

Tapped

by Stephanie Soechtig and Jason Lindsey (2009)

Film Review

Tapped is about the negative health and environmental effects of bottled water, and the obscene greed and dishonesty of multinational bottling companies like Nestle, Coke and Pepsi. With the recent decline in soft drink sales (owing to health concerns), the world’s biggest soft drink companies have latched onto the bottled water scam. According to the filmmakers, 40% of bottled water is actually bottled tap water. Acquafina (bottled tap water) is the major Pepsi brand. Dasani is made by Coke.

The Citizens Movement Against Water Mining

The film opens with a snapshot of citizen campaigns in Maine, Colorado and Michigan trying to stop the Swiss food giant Nestle from emptying their fresh water aquifers – free of charge – and selling it back to them for 1900 times the cost of tap water.

It goes on to feature Raleigh and Atlanta residents who were ordered to restrict water usage during a recent drought – while bottled water companies continued to remove hundreds of thousands of gallons from their shrinking aquifers.

Health and Environmental Hazards of PET Plastic

In addition to the depletion of aquifers, rivers and streams by the $800 billion bottled water industry, the manufacture and disposal of plastic bottled water containers is even more hazardous to human health and the environment.

In the US, all the paraxylene used in water bottles is manufactured (from petroleum) at in Corpus Cristi Texas. An extremely dirty industry, the Flint Hills factory releases benzene and other toxic contaminants to the surrounding air, water and soil. Accordingly, Corpus Christi has a far higher rate of cancer and birth defects than anywhere else in Texas.

Neither “Pure” Nor Safe

Contrary to all the advertising hype, unlike tap water, no federal or state agency is responsible for monitoring the purity or safety of bottled water. Independent testing of major brands has revealed contamination with bacterial pathogens, arsenic and cancer causing chemicals such as vinyl chloride, benzene, butadiene, styrene and toluene.

This is in addition to the phlalates and bisphenyl A that leach into the water from the plastic. The National Institutes of Health has linked bisphenyl A, one of the most toxic chemicals known to man, to childhood diabetes; obesity; breast and prostate cancer; liver, ovarian and uterine disease; and reduced sperm counts.

The Disposal Nightmare

Along with plastic bags, a large proportion of discarded water bottles (which never totally degrade) end up in the ocean, where they have resulted in enormous dead zones in the central and south Pacific, the North and South Atlantic and the Indian Ocean.

In view of all these concerns (and the refusal of Nestle, Pepsi and Coke to address them), some cities and universities have taken the bold step of banning bottled water sales. Six states have introduced a container deposit charge on plastic bottles to ensure they are recycled.