Food & Drink » Glenda Bartosh on Food

Food and drink: More than your average soft drink

Coca-Cola is ‘The Real Thing’ behind a cultural movement



News about the economy got your gears spinning? Need a lift after hearing about the $1.68 billion Intrawest debt? Got a thirst for some kind of relief? Then, hey, reach for the “Pause That Refreshes” here and just about everywhere — a Coke.

Apparently, The Coca-Cola Company — which is how the official corporate name is designated — and Intrawest have renewed their deal to ensure that Coke continues as the official provider of soft drinks and the like at all 10 of Intrawest’s resorts in North America.

Clink, clink, clink…   I can hear the bottles in the backs of the trucks now. They’ll be delivering everything from the many forms of Coke as well as Sprite, Evian and Dasani waters plus their Minute Maid juices to the many restaurants, bars, etc. that dot Intrawest resorts from here to Florida.

Coke is far more than the Red Bull of previous generations. In fact, long before the red bull, and long before the golden arches and just about every other logo you can think of, there was Coca-Cola, emblazoned in that distinctive, cursive white script on a red background, which was based on the handwriting of the inventor’s bookkeeper, Frank. M. Robinson. It remains one powerful brand, selling optimism, hope, and the American dream as culture in corners of the world one could barely imagine even wanting it.

A couple of years back, Constance L. Hays dissected the corporate world of Coca-Cola in her book, The Real Thing: Truth and Power at the Coca-Cola Company. It opens with a scene from the 1994 company presidency of Douglas Ivester in the midst of making a film for Coke’s employees and potential investors. He’s driving to Rome, Georgia, which lies about an hour-and-a-half northwest of Coke’s headquarters in Atlanta, where the product was first invented by pharmacist Dr. John Stith Pemberton in 1886.

Rome, Georgia, never ever to be confused with Rome, Italy, has held the dubious distinction for some time of being the Coke capital of the world.   Residents there consume more of the bubbly brown soft drink per capita than any other place on Earth. puts it at 941 eight-ounce servings a year for each average citizen. One can only hope that that figure does not include babies and infants of a certain age.

The average person in the resort town of Phuket, Thailand, by comparison, drinks only about a dozen cokes a year. Hmmm, the salt in those fresh Thai lime drinks must be the competition’s secret. Still, while you are reading this sentence some 128,000 Cokes are being downed around the world.