Coca-Cola: The Real Story Beyond the Facade

Coca-Cola is promoted as the ‘Real Thing’, but what’s behind the appealing ads? Coca-Cola is possibly one of the most successful beverage companies in the world, with worldwide consumption of more than 1.9 billion of its beverages daily (About Us: Coca-Cola History, 2014). The company associates its namesake drink, Coca-Cola with feeling happy, youthful, and healthy, yet many people don’t know the actual practices that go into making this world famous beverage. The company was created over 100 years ago, with the syrup originally being used for a medicine-like elixir. It still works something like a drug in that some people are ‘addicted’ to Coca-Cola and need their ‘daily fix’, just like habitual coffee drinkers. (Caffeine Myths and Facts, 2014). It has since gone on to be one of the most recognized brands in the world. Most people have tasted ‘Coke’ or at least heard of the Coca-Cola brand. In fact, since Coca-Cola makes so many different beverages on the market, it is pretty much impossible to avoid one of their products if you are drinking pre-bottled beverages. The general public has a sense of blind acceptance when it comes to Coca-Cola and it’s formulation, not really questioning its makeup; for example, Actor Colin Hanks states, “I don’t need to know how they make Coca-Cola. I think it tastes just fine not knowing what the ingredients are. I think there are some things that should be kept secret” (Brainy Quote, n.d.). Despite the popularity of Coca-Cola, the production of the drink has created a number of problems worldwide, including water shortages, poor working conditions, and numerous negative health implications. Effective marketing has made Coca-Cola phenomenally successful worldwide, but there is a dark side to this company.

Historically, Coca-Cola was first established in Atlanta Georgia, on May 8th, 1886, but not as the beverage that is familiar to most people today. Dr. John Stith Pemberton, a locally known pharmacist, produced the syrup used for Coca-Cola. It was originally designed as a patent medicine to be mixed with carbonated water, which was designed to treat such conditions as: morphine addictions and headaches. He then carried a bottle full of the syrup down the street to Jacobs’ Pharmacy, where it was then sold as a fountain drink for five cents a glass. Carbonated water was combined with the syrup to produce the famous drink known today as Coca-Cola. The two main ingredients were: cocaine from the coca leaf and caffeine from the kola nut, hence the name Coca-Cola. Dr. Pemberton’s partner and bookkeeper Frank M. Robinson suggested the name “Coca-Cola” because he figured that the two C’s would look good for advertising, making it stand out from other companies. He also wrote out the name in a unique script form, which makes the label of coke still stand out today. During the first year of having the drink on the market the sales averaged a mere nine drinks per day. The Coca-Cola Company (2014) states, “[today], daily servings of Coca-Cola beverages are estimated at 1.9 billion globally” (Para 2). In 1903, they removed Cocaine from the formula. Dr. Pemberton could not foresee the future success of his creation, and sold portions of the business to a number of different partners. Just before his death in 1888, he sold the remaining shares of his company to Asa. G. Candler, a shrewd businessman, who eventually acquired the rights and complete control of the Coca-Cola Company (Bellis, 2014). The company produces the syrup and this is then sold to licensed dealers worldwide. The dealers add the sweeteners and the water, and then bottle and distribute the finished product (About Us: Coca-Cola History, 2014). Coca-Cola is now the world’s largest beverage company, and includes such brands as: Sprite, Fanta, Vitamin Water, PowerAde, Minute Maid, and Simply (The Coca-Cola Company, n.d.). This company serves approximately 1.9 billion servings a day from its extensive line of beverages, a long way from its humble beginnings (About Us: Coca-Cola History, 2014).

One of the main issues with the production of present day Coca-Cola beverages is that they require an enormous water supply and this appears to be leading to water shortages and contamination in some areas of the world where Coca-Cola has its bottling plants. Many people don’t know the practices used to create this world famous beverage, and the effect this is having on the local populations in places where it is bottled. In India, where Coca-Cola is produced, there has been a dramatic effect on the water levels, and this is suspected to be a direct result of Coca-Cola production: “Farmers say that the water tables started to drop dramatically about 8 years ago, just after Coca-Cola set up a factory there” (The Coca-Cola Case, 2009). Suicide rates among farmers in India, are growing at a rapid rate because of the water shortages. The farmers are feeling helpless because their farms are failing due to the water shortages, and they have no recourse. They feel that they can no longer take care of themselves and their families; therefor this often leads to suicide. The company is pumping water out of public aquifers (natural underground reservoirs) to make soft drinks and bottled water. The water that farmers extract goes back into the water cycle; whereas, the water that Coca-Cola extracts gets put into bottles and is driven 200 miles away, leaving the water cycle forever: “Coca-Cola has often been accused of exploiting water, especially in India where their plant in Carola was forced to shut down after violent protests from farmers. For every litre of soft drink, the company has to extract about 3 litres of water” (The Coca-Cola Case, 2009). In Plachimada, India the Coca-Cola bottling plant was shut down in 2004 due to the Company abusing water resources. In 2010 a High Power Committee created by the state government of Kerala in India recommended that Coca-Cola should be held financially responsible for the overuse of the water resources and the severe contamination of the water and soil by its bottling production in Plachimada. According to Global Research (2010), in the report it was stated that, “the Committee has come to the conclusion that the Company is responsible for these damages and it is obligatory that they pay the compensation to the affected people for the agricultural losses, health problems, loss of wages, loss of educational opportunities, and the pollution caused to the water resources” (Para 7). The report also stated that compensation should be at least $40 million. In addition to the extensive use of water for the production of Coke products, the bottling plants are also dumping wastewater into the ground, which in turn, has polluted the scarce water that remains. In short, Coca-Cola appears to be having a massive negative impact on the communities in which its bottling plants are located.

In addition to the water issues associated with Coca-Cola, its business practices seem to be contributing to poor working conditions in many of the developing countries where it produces and distributes its product. The company gets its sugar from canes grown in developing countries such as El Salvador (Lobe, 10 June 2004). At the Sugar Cane plantations in El Salvador there are approximately 230,000 working boys and girls between the ages of five and seventeen. They work up to sixteen hours a day, sometimes with only one or two days off a month. They suffer from: smoke inhalation, fatal workplace injuries, and exhaustion from the long days working under the direct sunlight (Lobe, 10 June 2004). Child labourers as young as eight years old use dangerous tools such as machetes in their work on sugar cane plantations in El Salvador (Lobe, 10 June 2004). Basic human rights such as education are being taken away. Children in the field have to pay for their own medical treatment, and if they are injured on the job, they don’t receive any pay for the time they are in recovery (Lobe, 10 June 2004). These children are often working to support their entire families, and in many cases, the local culture supports the ‘entire’ family working together in the cane fields (Lobe, 10 June 2004). There are laws in place to protect children from labouring in dangerous working conditions, but these laws are often not enforced, and the children are often listed as ‘helpers’ not labourers so that the laws can be circumvented (Lobe, 10 June 2004). As reported by Jim Lobe (2004), Coca-Cola states it “will not use child labor as defined by local law” (Para 14), and since it does not buy sugar directly from the plantations, only from the mill that processes it, it can state that it does comply with its own guidelines (Para 14). Jim Lobe (2004) reports that Human Rights Watch (HRW) concludes, “[that] means that Coca-Cola’s supplier mill can comply with Coca-Cola’s guiding principles even though it is aware that the sugar it refines is harvested in part by child labor”(Para 15). The Coca-Cola Company must be aware of where the sugar comes from, but they choose to ignore it. In the Philippines it is estimated that there are 2.4 million child workers, many of whom work in the mines and the fields (Lah, 2 May 2012). In the Mindanao region of the Philippines, Coca-Cola is one of the main customers for the sugar from the sugar cane fields. In an article by CNN reporter Lah (2012), he states that “The Coca-Cola company is one of the largest buyers of sugar in the world and the sugar factories fed by the fields of Northern Mindanao call Coca-Cola one of their main customers” (Para 13). In the situation in Mindanao, the Coca-Cola Foundation, created by Coca-Cola, has recognized this problem of child labour. To help alleviate the problem, the company is helping to pay for the construction of a four-room high school in Mindanao in order to educate the children and hopefully reduce the use of child labour in the fields. Coca-Cola is quoted as saying in a statement to CNN that it “ does not support, encourage or endorse any form of child labor in our operations throughout our global bottling system or in our supplier network” (Para 14). In Columbia, and other developing countries where Coca-Cola is distributed, workers are responsible for the cost of any bottles that break. They rent the trucks that are used to deliver the Coke products, and are responsible for the maintenance of the trucks. This means that they make a minimal wage when all of these costs are taken into account. The Coca-Cola Company is not doing enough to ensure decent working conditions and fair business practices are in place for the workers in its operations in developing countries.

Another concern with Coca-Cola is that there are numerous health issues associated with the products themselves. Since Coke was originally manufactured using Cocaine, it was effectively working as a drug. In fact the main consumers were overseas troops who used Coke to help keep themselves alert (This Day in History: Civil War Veteran and Morphine Addict John Pemberton Invents Coca-Cola, 2012). Unfortunately this consumption of Cocaine laced Coke lead to addiction among the soldiers (This Day in History: Civil War Veteran and Morphine Addict John Pemberton Invents Coca-Cola, 2012). Today, from a health perspective, a 355 ml can of Coke contains almost 10 tablespoons of sugar (100% of the daily-recommended intake) in a phosphoric acid solution (Mercola, 12 January 2008). The sugar in the Coke causes your blood sugar to spike, which causes a burst of insulin, which causes your liver to store these sugars as fats (Mercola, 12 January 2008). The phosphoric acid in the drink dissolves the enamel on your teeth as it makes its way down (Mercola, 12 January 2008). The caffeine component causes your blood pressure to rise, your pupils to dilate, and your brain to become alert (Mercola, 12 January 2008). In addition, the phosphoric acid binds to your body’s calcium, magnesium, and zinc, which will now be lost in your urine, depleting your body of these minerals (Mercola, 12 January 2008). The caffeine works on your kidneys to cause you to urinate more frequently, so you also become dehydrated when referring to vitamin water (one of the many Coca-Cola beverages). Michael F. Jacobson, Executive Director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest (2010) stated, “The marketing of vitamin water will go down in history as one of the boldest and brashest attempts ever to affix a healthy halo to what is essentially a junk food, a non-carbonated soda” (Para 4). He also stated, “Vitamin water, like Coca-Cola itself, promotes weight gain, obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and cannot deliver on any of the dishonest claims it has made over the years” (Para 4). Although Coca-Cola has marketed many of its beverages as healthy, when examined more closely, there are no health benefits to be found in most of them.

Coca-Cola has become phenomenally successful worldwide due to catchy, effective marketing, but behind the facade there is a dark side to this company. Coca-Cola bottling plants have severely depleted water in places such as India where water was already scarce. In addition, these plants have polluted the remaining ground water in areas where they produce the world famous beverage, putting the economy and welfare of the local people at risk. The health issues associated with the beverage are no better either. With ‘Cokes’ high sugar content, caffeine, and phosphoric acid, this list of ingredients sounds more like the chemicals in a science experiment than in a beverage. Coca-Cola once started out with Cocaine in the formula, yet in some ways its still as addicting today. Coca-Cola, with its massive marketing campaign associates its name with health, youth, fitness, and fun. The Company is basically successfully manipulating peoples’ minds through advertising into believing that Coke is ‘good’ for them. People have to learn to be discriminating consumers, and to ensure that they are not supporting corporations who have poor business practices, and who are not contributing to society in a positive way.   Think for yourself and choose wisely based on all the information available before supporting a particular manufacturer.


About Us: Coca-Cola History. (2014). World of Coca-Cola Atlanta. Retrieved 1 November 2014,

Bellis, Mary. (2014). The History of Coca-Cola. About Money. Retrieved 15 November 2014,

Caffeine Myths and Facts. (2014). Web MD. Retrieved 4 November 2014,

Coca-Cola Causes Depletion of Water Resources in India. (22 March 2010). MarcGlobal Research. Retrieved 1 November 2014,

Hanks, Colin. (n.d.). Brainy Quote. Retrieved 16 November 2014,

Hisky, Daven. (2012). This Day in History: Civil War Veteran and Morphine Addict John Pemberton Invents Coca-Cola. Today I Found Out: Feed Your Brain. Retrieved 12 October 2014,

Huff A. Ethan. (24 July 2013). Coca-Cola facing huge class action lawsuit over alleged false claims for Vitaminwater. Natural New. Retrieved 10 October 2014,

Lah, Kyung. (2 May 2012). Life not sweet for Philippines’ sugar cane child workers. CNN World. Retrieved 2 November 2014,

Lobe, Jim. (10 June 2004). Coca-Cola Exploiting Child Laborers in El Salvador Sugar Cane Fields. Organic Consumers Association. Retrieved 2 November 2014,

Mercola, Joseph. (12 January 2008). What Happens To Your Body Within An Hour of Drinking A Coke. Mercola: Take Control of Your Health. Retrieved 2 November 2014,

The Coca Cola Case. Dir. Carmen Garciia and German Guiterrez.mProphet Tv, 2009. Retrieved October 9, 2014.

The Coca-Cola Company. (n.d.) World Economic Forum. Retrieved 10 October 2014,



The Amazing ‘Soup Sisters’

Sharon Hapton founded “Soup Sisters” in Calgary in 2009. She felt that soups  make a person feel warm inside, especially on cold nights, and she likened that to making a person in a ‘cold’ situation feel warm as well. She then took that idea one step further by creating homemade soups to nurture and nourish women, children, and youth in crisis. “Soup Sisters” is a non-profit charitable social enterprise, which is dedicated to providing women, children, and youth with a sense of warmth and welcoming while in crisis centers and shelters. Anyone in a community that has a “Soup Sister” chapter can join in the making of the soups. New chapters are continually being established in cities across Canada. This program provides hundreds of litres of soup to women and children in women’s shelters, and to youth in crisis programs. The “Soup Sisters” program is found across Canada and is now also located in one American State. It is a year-round program, where each participant pays a small fee of $50.00-$55.00 for registration: they, in turn, join in the soup making at a local professional kitchen and are taught soup making skills from a chef. Around 150-200 servings of homemade soup are made during these events, and are then driven to local shelters around town. This is a non-profit organization. The mandatory registration fee is used to cover the cost of fresh ingredients for all these homemade, nutritious soups. “Soup Sisters” has recently published a recipe book with recipes for a variety of different soups that they make, as a way of raising further funds for their cause. At Christmas this year our family received this cookbook as a gift and this where I first learned about soup sisters.

Seeing others giving back and helping people in need in the community through this program, inspires me to look for ways in which I can contribute to society as well. Soup Sisters helps less fortunate people become nourished, and shows them that others care about them. It provides them comfort food in a time of need. This program makes me think of all the possible ways I can in turn give back, such as helping out in local shelters in my community.

soupsisters file photo from Calgary_event courtesy of Soup Sisters logo-soup-sisters2

Works Cited:

Hapton, Sharon.( 2012). The Soup Sisters Cookbook. Canada: Random House.

Kelowna Soup Sisters and Broth Brothers. (2012). Soup Sisters. Retrieved 11 January 2015,

And the Winner is….

The short story ” The Rocking-Horse Winner” by D.H. Lawrence is about a boy who obsessively rides a rocking horse in order to predict horse race winners so he can make money to appease his mother, and make her happy. Paul is a young boy, with two sisters, and a mother and father. He has the so called “picture perfect” life.   In reality, behind the closed doors of his luxurious home there lives a materialistic mother and father who don’t really care for their children. Paul just wants to feel loved and have a sense of purpose within his family, yet his mother never gives him this. He tries everything in his limited youthful abilities to get her attention and make her proud by being “lucky”, as she thinks being lucky is the way to riches.   He rides a rocking horse and in doing so is able to dream the winners of future horse races.  This allows him to bet money on the races and ‘earn’ money for his family to make them happy.  Unfortunately, by the end of the short story all he leaves behind is his dead body and his greedy family with all the money he won.  Paul riding the rocking horse in a frenzy and not getting anywhere is a parallel to people needing more and more money and never getting ahead because as quickly as they earn it, they spend it.   He represents the sacrifice that people make in order to gain material wealth at all costs.  Paul is that cost in his family.  Paul’s eyes are big and blue which are described multiple times throughout the story. This gives this character a dreamlike quality, and seems to allude to his intelligence.  This is demonstrated in this quote which takes place during the time in which Paul and his uncle Oscar were making bets on the racing horses. “The boy gazed at his uncle from those big, hot, blue eyes, set rather close together.” (225).   The intelligence and passion behind Paul’s eyes is represented in the following passage, “The child had never been to a race meeting before, and his eyes were blue fire”(226). Paul begins the story as an optimistic, dedicated, determined boy who has revealing dreams.  By the end of the story his dreams have destroyed him, and he is an empty shell with no life in his eyes. Paul’s main goals throughout the story are to make money for his family to make his mother happy, so he can feel loved by her. He also thinks that if he makes enough money he can get rid of the voices in the house that are demanding more money. Paul is an innocent young boy who just wants to feel loved yet he suffers in the end for only trying to help his family. The mother-son relationship in this short story is a mess of unfulfilled hopes, dreams, desires, and anxiety between the two characters. Near the end of the story it shows how Paul’s character has changed which is clear in this quote “He neither slept nor regained consciousness, and his eyes were like blue stones” (234). The life and the fire had been drained from him.  The writer leaves the reader wondering if Paul’s mother will feel regret and feel sadness at the loss of her son for the sake of the powerful lure of money.

Potentially Charlotte

The main thing that keeps me from realizing my true potential would be the fear of failure. I don’t have enough confidence in my abilities, and I therefor don’t try new things because I am worried that I won’t be successful at them. I can remember many times that I’ve sat back and not participated in an activity, or contributed to a discussion simply because I was afraid that I wouldn’t ‘measure up’. There’s no reason that I should feel that way because I haven’t had allot of occasions that resulted in failure, but the feeling just creeps up on me. I would think that my potential should be unlimited to an extent, because the times where I have put my heart into something, I have been successful.

In life, all I really want to do is be involved in the movie making industry, working behind the camera in editing.  The only dilemma to this is I feel it is impossible for me to get there. Being an “average” student these days, and the idea that I can’t get into any universities, is engraved into my mind. I feel that there are far brighter students out there, so why would they choose me over someone else?  But, in fact, I have as great a chance as others to get accepted places. I know that I’m just scared in all honesty I just really don’t want to receive a rejection letter. I’m sure if I put my heart to it that I can achieve great things. Also the practicality of things, it would be extremely difficult to get into a big name Hollywood production industry. I feel that it is not possible for me to achieve my goals, and follow my “Arnie”.

The reason why I will most likely ignore my dreams, and push them aside for a while, is because I feel they are unrealistic. I feel that everyone should always have a “retarded” part of them inside because without it where would we be in life. We would be all following the same structured life that we’re born into instead of following our dreams and hopes. If I could speak to my inner “Arnie” I would tell myself to keep trying to reach for my goals and desires in life and to not give up easily. I would tell myself to continue to dream, and to follow those dreams.

From a existential perspective, I am allowing my individuality to be created by my belief that I have to be responsible, and make responsible choices as determined by society.  I am ruled by my fear of failure; the failure I might encounter if I follow my dreams, rather than choosing according to what is the responsible path in life.


Multitasking Dilemma

This article focuses on the concept of “multitasking” which has become predominant in our modern, high-tech society. It discusses how we as humans have made it harder for ourselves by multitasking in that it takes much longer to complete multiple tasks at once versus completing just one task at a time. People refer to the word “multitasking” as a skill, when in fact it is not. People use gadgets more and more these days which increases peoples’ abilities to complete many tasks at the same time; in other words, multitasking. Multiple studies have shown that multitasking can have detrimental effects on quality of work achieved in the workplace and even fatal effects when one considers such acts as using a cellphone while driving. This has been referred to as “continuous partial attention” by researcher Linda Stone. As a result of this multitasking in the workplace a new condition has been described called “Attention Deficit Trait” which has symptoms similar to ADD. One study noted that workers took an average of 25 minutes to recover from interruptions to their main task, by such things as emails and phone calls. It is estimates that this loss in productivity costs the US 650 billion dollars a year. Neurologists and Psychologists have studied that effect that multitasking has on the brain, and have noted that the blood flow changes from one region of the brain to another as a result of multitasking. In addition it has been found that multitasking leads to an increase to stress, hormones, and adrenaline which can have long term health effects. One study found that learning while multitasking makes it more difficult to retrieve the information that has been learned. This same research showed that information learned while distracted is actually stored in a different part of the brain than information learned while focussed on one task. There is some concern about how this will affect todays youth who are being raised in a multitasking, multimedia environment. The author concludes from all this information  that this multitasking phenomenon could have a detrimental affect on the well-being of individuals and society. She feels that society may gain information but will lack in “wisdom”.

Learning Styles

After taking the three personality/learning style quizzes I found out many new things about my learning style. I have discovered that I’m a Concrete Sequential Learner, a Kinesthetic Learner, and an ISFP learner (Introverted, Sensing, Feeling, Perceiving).

The description of Concrete Sequential Learner describes me fairly accurately. I prefer for there to be “order and quiet guided practice and know the accepted way of doing something”. I struggle a lot with making decisions and I also struggle with open-ended assignments and “what if” questions. I have seen this in my day to day life, such as when I’m with my friends. I often say “I don’t know” because I’m not good with my decision making. It drives them crazy. In school, I am often having a hard time deciding between 2 answers on multiple choice tests. I can’t decide between them, and I hate to choose in case I choose the wrong answer.

I agree with being Kinesthetic in that I like to get a feel for things and try it myself rather than reading a book or manual on how to do something. I learn better by seeing something done and by trying it myself rather than reading a book or manual on how to do something. I learn better by seeing something done and by trying it myself. That’s why I love “Youtube” so much for tutorials on how to do a variety of things.  In school, I find it easier to learn by having the teacher demonstrate how to do something, rather than just explaining how to do it.  With my friends, if we are doing something new, I always like to let them ‘go first’.

I also agree with being an ISFP as my learning type in that it completely describes me. For Example: “seek harmony, validation, and affection in their relationships with others, very sensitive and easily hurt by harshness, drawn towards creatures who will love them back unconditionally (animals and small children)”. This describes me perfectly! I am this way with my friends and definitely at school. I take it it personally if people in school say things to me that I feel are mean, and I don’t get over it very easily.  I don’t like it when my friends ge angry with me or each other.  I would rather ‘let things go’ in order to keep the peace.

I am surprised that these tests actually described my learning and behaviour style.