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The Age Old Debate: Coke vs. Pepsi

Where Did It All Begin?


Things began in 1886 when Coca-Cola was originally created. Pharmacist John S. Pemberton created the well-known drink because he wanted something that would bring him commercial success. Sadly, Pemberton passed away 2 years later. It was Asa Griggs Candler who then rescued the business in 1891. Candler then took on one of the most innovative marketing techniques, giving out coupons for a free Coke. He wanted people to try it, and then buy it later on. This helped Coca-Cola get to where it is today.


Caleb Davis Bradham first invented what we know to be Pepsi in 1893, calling it “Brad’s Drink”. In 1898, he renamed the drink Pepsi-Cola. In 1902, the Pepsi-Cola Company was formed due to the rising popularity and demand for the Pepsi-Cola Syrup with none other than Caleb Bradham as the first president. The selling of Pepsi-Cola syrup is what drove the company to success.

The Feud

Coca-Cola was already selling a million gallons by the time Pepsi-Cola came into play. Coke developed its iconic contoured bottle, got big name endorsements, and expanded the brand to Europe. Meanwhile, Pepsi went bankrupt because of WWI due to the high price and severe rationing of sugar. Pepsi went bankrupt again 8 years later but rebounded after this time. During WWII, Pepsi amped up their game and began selling their drink in cans. Not much later, during the 50s, Coke began advertising on TV while Pepsi rebranded, trying to keep up with Coke.

The Cola Wars

Per Wikipedia, “The cola wars are a series of mutually-targeted television advertisements and marketing campaigns since the 1980s between two long-time rival soft drink producers, The Coca-Cola Company and PepsiCo.” Each company used multiple advertising and marketing campaigns to outdo the other. This is still going on til this day.

Coke’s advertising has always focused on nostalgia, wholesomeness, and the family. Pepsi has focused on showing themselves as a young and social brand who always keeps up with the trends.

The ‘Cola War’ term came about when a marketing stunt by Pepsi called the Pepsi Challenge in which Pepsi representatives set up tables in public places with two unmarked cups, one containing Pepsi and the other containing Coke. Passerbys were offered to sip from each cup and give an opinion on which tasted better. The results showed most people preferred Pepsi. This campaign stretched through the 80s with Pepsi seemingly winning due to the perception created by the Pepsi Challenge results.

In 1983, Coke’s share went from over 60 percent to just 23 percent. The company panicked. In a desperate attempt to regain its footing, Coke created a new formula. Soon, people were seen emptying cans of New Coke in the streets. Not long after, Pepsi took out a full page ad in the New York Times stating they had won The Cola Wars. Coke had then gone back to their old formula, calling it the “Classic Coke”. The sales rose dramatically due to this. The two companies played tit for tat through the following years.

What Side Are You On?

Everyone has a favorite! Whether you’re an avid Coke or Pepsi fan, you can find a variety of vintage pieces at our store. Feel free to stop by!

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