Get To Know The Carpathian Basin

The Soviets Secret Love Affair with Coca Cola

March 12, 2024
min read

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There's nothing more American than Coca-Cola! Alongside baseball and apple pie, nothing represents the U.S. as much as cracking open a fresh can of Coke. But that's exactly why Eastern Europe during the Cold War had such a complicated relationship with it.

You see, the Soviets viewed Coke as the embodiment of Western capitalist consumerism and a symbol of American values. One problem: Coca-Cola is actually pretty good. So good, in fact, that the Soviet minister of defense and hero of World War II, Georgy Zhukov, struck a special deal with American businessmen to be able to drink it. After Dwight D. Eisenhower introduced Coke to Zhukov during the war, he became a huge fan of the soft drink.

Unfortunately for Zhukov, it would have been politically unacceptable for him to be seen drinking Coca-Cola. Plus it wasn't even available in the Soviet Union until 1972. So he made a special request to President Truman to manufacture and package Coca-Cola to look like vodka. Coca-Cola complied, and in 1946 managed to ship Zhukov, so-called white Coke, which was colorless and sent in clear glass bottles with a red star on them.Alternatives to Coca Cola appeared throughout the Cold War.

Some examples include Vita Cola in East Germany, Polo Cocktal in Poland, Baikal in the USSR, Cockta in Yugoslavia, or Traubisoda in Hungary. Today, most of these alternatives have very limited production or are no longer made at all, with a few exceptions. Have you heard of any of these brands? Or if you're from the region, what are some of your favorite Coke alternatives?

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