Coca Cola: do you really know what you drink?

Coca Cola is the best-known drink in the world, the most widely distributed product on the planet and is currently available in 232 countries, many more than the nations that make up the United Nations (UN).

In 1886, pharmacist John Pemberton created the Coca Cola formula based on the success of the famous Mariani wine, an invigorating alcoholic beverage based on wine and macerated coca leaf, formulated by the Italian chemist Angelo Mariani.

Later the Cadler brothers bought the concoction from the pharmacist and it was they who began the intense advertising campaign that made the Company what it is today. Although, in the beginning Coca Cola was introduced commercially as “an effective tonic for the brain” and nerves. It is said that one day a man with a severe headache came to Jacob's pharmacy, where Coca syrup mixed in water was sold, and instead of adding water, he wanted to add soda. The man drank his glass and in this way Coca Cola with bubbles as it is known today was born.

It became the official beverage supplier to the US army in World War II and it was thanks to the support of this government that it was able to spread throughout the world.

International Coca Cola is a company emblematic not only of Yankee Imperialism, but of something deeper and more effective in the cultural domination it exercises over much of the world.

Composition, with effects and consequences

In 1902, Dr. Charles Crampton [1] analyzed several samples of bottled soft drink where he found samples of cocaine and alcohol, as he specified in his report to the US Department of Agriculture. As a result of these findings, Dr. Harvey Washington [2] ordered that Coca be considered a drug and labeled as “poison due to its high caffeine content.” However, the US Supreme Court ruled in favor of the multinational and it only had to present the chemical analysis of its formula during the trial.

According to AMEDEC [3], Cola "constitutes the most serious distortion of our eating habits, since it also leads to the ingestion of empty calories, that is, with zero proteins, vitamins and minerals."

10% of each bottle gives the sensation of energy, however it cannot be said that Coca Cola is a nutritious drink, it is the sugar more than the caffeine that causes the addiction, receiving five tablespoons of sugar in a drink of soda, the pancreas must send a lot of insulin into the blood to counteract this ferocious attack, the ironic result is a drastic drop in blood sugar level, followed by a need for more sugar.

Likewise, caffeine, extracted from the kola nut, is a nervous system stimulant that produces aggravating sensations, but if ingested in high quantities it can cause insomnia, tachycardia, headaches and anxiety.

The large amount of sugar combined with phosphoric acid upsets the balance of calcium and phosphorus in the body and prevents proper absorption of iron, leading to malnutrition and anemia.

The WHO [4] tried to provide information about the dangers of excessive sugar consumption. The large transnational companies, linked to sugar, tried to prevent the publication of the document; Coca Cola threatened to pressure the US Congress to remove the subsidies it gives to the WHO if it did not withdraw the document.

The sugars contained in the soft drink gradually dissolve the enamel of the teeth, weakening them and producing cavities, but not only that, the sugars that the body cannot ingest are transformed into fats, possibly resulting in overweight and even obesity problems.

In the case of Diet Coke, there are studies that indicate that the consumption of sugar substitutes in large quantities causes brain damage, memory loss and mental confusion, with aspartame being the substance that causes these conditions.

There was a competition in Delhi university: Who can drink the most Coca Cola? The winner drank 8 bottles and died instantly since he had too much carbon dioxide in his blood and not enough oxygen. Since then, the university principal banned all soft drinks.


Nobody remembers anymore, but Santa Claus was represented with green, blue, black and yellow colors. The reinvention of Santa Claus was by Houddon Sundblom of Swedish origin, who for years was an illustrator for the multinational although he did not like soda. The Swede came up with the idea of ​​representing the character as a jovial and friendly grandfather, but with something essential: the colors of the Coca-Cola brand.

Its sales strategy and the enormous advertising invested are some of the factors that make it easier to find a Coca in the most remote and poorest town in the world than a little water. This company is the one that has spent the most money in history on advertising.

Through this advertising investment, Coca Cola has been associated in the collective imagination with a whole series of positive values: friendship, love, solidarity, cooperation.

Furthermore, according to what their advertisements say, this drink It is the best that quenches thirst and is a basic complement for practicing sports.. The billboards become more aggressive and insulting. Coca no longer only removes tartar and rust from metals or nuts, but it even removes the ugly. Among the legends of these great announcements: “ You are not ugly, you have personality. Take the good, Coca Cola"

So, given the number of things that can happen when drinking a can of soda, what does the secret formula of this drink matter? The myth of the chemical composition of Coca is not taken into account, because the power of this brand is precisely in everything that is associated with it and that is not physically in the product.


On the other hand, the company has been investigated by different organizations and social movements from several countries, focusing mainly on two types of impacts: pollution, destruction of aquifers and harassment of its workers.

“As different organizations have proven, the company has a history of violent action against union members in Turkey, Pakistan, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Russia and Colombia. Precisely the case of Coca's human rights violations in Colombia has been judged within the framework of the permanent people's court. At this hearing, they provided abundant data and documentation that relates the American company to the harassment and intimidation of its workers, as well as the murder of nine union members" (Pedro Ramiro, Coca es Así, )

The accusations about the multinational that relate it to the impacts on the water resources of the different communities come mainly from India.

It is currently estimated that Coca Cola has 1.145 bottling plants around the world.

The brand demands an abundant amount of water for its activities, which means it needs to control the aquifers. The consequence is that it is dehydrating some communities and contaminating water systems and crop fields by dumping toxic waste.

Each Coca factory extracts 1-2 million water daily, this amount would cover the drinking water needs of millions of people. Coca needs almost 4 liters of fresh water to produce one liter of its product. To do so, the company converts 75% of the clean water it extracts into waste water, which in turn contaminates the scant rest that remains in the subsoil. and on earth. The entire life cycle of coca from the extraction of water to the delivery of its products contaminated with pesticides is full of problems.

In Mexico, the multinational's factories do not pay for the water they consume, a product of government concessions.

Coca Cola launched a brand of bottled water “Dasani” on the British market.

In 2004, the American company “recognized that what this brand sells is actually ordinary tap water (…)” The water of its Dasani brand comes from the national drinking water system in London “in fact reaches the cocaine in Sidcup through Thames Water pipes,” which is the British drinking water service company.

As if that were not enough, it was detected that the bottled water had levels of bromate, higher than those legal in Great Britain. Although Coca argued to give Dasani water greater purification, it finally had to withdraw its water brand from the market.

All these activities have caused several campaigns to be launched against the transnational company. A clear example of this is that the World Social Forum in Porto Alegre defined July 22 as the International Day against Coca Cola. In addition, there are several boycott processes against the transnational company in many countries around the world. But the company cannot tolerate damage to its main asset, because of this it has launched an entire counter-advertising strategy and in the face of the proliferation of campaigns that criticize its advertising and contrast it with the reality of the company's impacts. , creating a web page ( ) where it explains all its positive effects.


The river is to the Indigenous, what water is to Coca Cola...

If all the Coca that has been manufactured so far were placed in a normal-sized bottle and placed one after the other, they would make the round trip to the moon 1045 times, that is, a daily trip for more than two years.

Every day, unconsciously and with the attitude of a consumer, marketing options are oriented towards multinationals; however, the possibility of these actions becoming options depends on the quantity and quality of information available about each product. But it must be consumed critically, this being an everyday political act.

We have the right to choose what we consume, why let this multimillion-dollar monopoly decide about health and a decent life, without anyone at any time having explicitly given it this power?

*Carla Davico
Bachelor's Student in Biodiversity - UNL-FHUC


[1] US Government Chemical Engineer.

[2] Head of the chemistry office of the department of agriculture.

[3] Mexican Association of Consumer Defense Studies.

[4] World Health Organization.