Coca-colonization, "refreshing" Americanization or Nazi Volksgetränk? : the history of Coca-Cola in Germany, 1929-1961 / by Jeff Richard Schutts.
This case study in the “globalization” of Coca-Cola examines the cross-currents of cultural transfer. After defining Coca-Cola (soft drink, company, and icon) via its history in the United States, the dissertation examines Coke's launch in Germany by Ray Rivington Powers, an American expatriate who in 1929 established a bottling franchise in Essen. Although the Great Depression bankrupted other international Coca-Cola bottling operations, the soft drink's sales in Germany doubled annually throughout the 1930s—a remarkable accomplishment considering the Nazi's national chauvinism and Coca-Cola's status as “The Great American Beverage.”Drawing from many sources—from German periodicals and government archives to Coca-Cola company publications preserved by private collectors—this study investigates the secret of Coca-Cola's success. Although Powers embodied Weimar Germany's so-called “Americanization,” Coca-Cola itself was “Germanized” in the Third Reich: The Coca-Cola Company's business organization and marketing methods facilitated the transformation of the soft drink into an “indigenous” product that was promoted by local family businesses. Even when Coca-Cola GmbH's competitors tried to discredit Coca-Cola as “Jewish-American,” the German Coke franchise weathered the storm with advertising that suggested Germans, “Trink Coca-Cola eis-kalt.” In 1937 Coca-Cola's thorough integration into German culture was demonstrated when a bottling operation was set up amidst an exhibition of Schaffendes Volk, “the German people at work.”Coca-Cola did business with both sides during World War II. Whereas Coke's patriotism prompted the US Army to establish bottling plants wherever American forces deployed, in Nazi Germany Coca-Cola GmbH, administered as “enemy-owned property,” marketed a new ersatz soft drink—Fanta. After the war, Coke's unprecedented success in the new Federal Republic of Germany demonstrated how Coca-Cola was able to shape, as well as profit from, historical events. With its clever ad slogan, “Mach mal Pause,” Coca-Cola GmbH positioned the soft drink as an elixir for war-weary Germans. Sales skyrocketed, and the Coke bottle became an icon of the 1950s Wirtschaftswunder, West Germany's miraculous economic recovery. Coca-Cola consumption was a stage on which postwar Germans could rehearse a new “identity” as cosmopolitan consumer-democrats. In other words, they were “Born Again in the Gospel of Refreshment.”
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