The current global climate is one of outrage and public shaming, with some of our favorite celebrities and our least favorite presidents being involved in and accused of shocking scandals. But at least sipping your favourite soft drink provides an innocent retreat from the harsh realities of the real world, right? Wrong!
(I am being facetious, please read the rest of the article before you decide to boycott the Coca Cola company.)
Coca-Cola was invented by a confederate civil war veteran in 1886. Dr S John Pemberton created the coca leaf infused drink as an alternative to the morphine he had become addicted to. In respect to the popular myth about the drink, the coca leaf is used in making cocaine but the drink itself never contained actual cocaine. The drink spread across the US and by the 1920s the drink been popularised in many European countries, including Germany.
A Coca-Cola subsidiary was run in Germany by Max Keith and the drink had been popular prior to Nazi rule in the country. Throughout the Nazi campaign Coca-Cola retained German business by associating itself with aspects of German life, including the anti-Semitic aspects. Coca-Cola was one of the three main sponsors of the 1936 Berlin Olympics where banners were flown featuring the company logo alongside a swastika. And more shockingly Keith ordered a mass Seig-Heil in honor of Adolf Hitler’s 50th birthday at Coca-Cola Germany’s 10th anniversary.
When the US entered World War II in 1941 all American companies were required to stop business with Germany, while on the other side of the pond the German government threatened to capture any enemy owned businesses. Due to this and difficulties contacting the main Coca-Cola branch in Georgia, the US based Coca-Cola company was forced to cut ties with Keith and stop supplying the German factory with supplies including the secret 7X Coca-Cola flavoring.
Unable to produce Coca-Cola itself Keith needed a new alternative beverage to market to the German people that could be produced in Germany itself. Thus Fanta (derived from the German word fantasie) was created. It quickly became well-liked, by 1943 sales had reached nearly 3 million cases per year. It was especially popular due to the lack of other choices at the time. Fanta was drunk by itself but it was also used as a sweetener in cooking and baking due to severe sugar rationing.
Fanta production stopped at the end of WWII but the drink was reintroduced in 1955 in Italy. They made this Fanta with a completely new recipe and Fanta today is largely different to its Nazi namesake. Due to limitations from wartime rationing the drink had to be made out of leftovers from other food industries, namely fruit shaving, apple fibers, beet sugar and whey from cheese making. In 2015 for its 75th anniversary Coca-Cola released a classic wartime version of the drink but facing backlash hastily pulled it from the shelves and put out a statement saying Fanta “Has no association with Hitler or the Nazi Party”. I’m sure Fanta Klassik tasted nothing like the orange flavored drink you can find behind the bar in central.
I don’t mean to make this sound like Fanta and Coca-Cola are a menace because of their history. Indeed, other companies have had similar war time deals and in the 1990s Pepsi used to trade with the USSR. Given that the soviet rubles were practically worthless outside of the USSR they bartered with the US using vodka or Soviet war ships in return for soda. The pepsi company briefly owned a fairly large navy including 17 submarines and three warships. Surprisingly, the company never used these ships to declare war on Coca-Cola instead selling them for scrap.
As the pepsi company worked with the USSR, Keith must have worked with the Nazis to create, produce and sell Fanta as “You could not do business inside of Nazi Germany unless you collaborated with them”. However, Keith was never an official member of the Nazi party and his allegiances lied solely with Coca-Cola and not with Hitler. He was simply doing what he could to keep his business alive. So dedicated was Keith, it is rumored that when American troops liberated Germany from the Nazi reign Keith was found in a half-bombed factory still bottling Fanta.
TL;DR Fanta was invented in Nazi Germany but not by Nazi’s and even if it had been, today’s has been completely recreated and only shares the same name so there is no need to fret about racist soda.