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Coca-Cola is a carbonated soft drink sold in stores, restaurants, and vending machines internationally. The Coca-Cola Company claims that the beverage is sold in more than 200 countries. It is produced by The Coca-Cola Company in Atlanta, Georgia, and is often referred to simply as Coke (a now generalized trademark) or (in European and American countries) as cola or pop. Originally intended as a patent medicine when it was invented in the late 19th century by John Pemberton, Coca-Cola was bought out by businessman Asa Griggs Candler, whose marketing tactics led Coke to its dominance of the world soft-drink market throughout the 20th century.
The company produces concentrate, which is then sold to licensed Coca-Cola bottlers throughout the world. The bottlers, who hold territorially exclusive contracts with the company, produce finished product in cans and bottles from the concentrate in combination with filtered water and sweeteners. The bottlers then sell, distribute and merchandise Coca-Cola to retail stores and vending machines. Such bottlers include Coca-Cola Enterprises, which is the largest single Coca-Cola bottler in North America and western Europe. The Coca-Cola Company also sells concentrate for soda fountains to major restaurants and food service distributors
The Coca-Cola Company has, on occasion, introduced other cola drinks under the Coke brand name. The most common of these is Diet Coke, with others including Caffeine-Free Coca-Cola, Diet Coke Caffeine-Free, Coca-Cola Cherry, Coca-Cola Zero, Coca-Cola Vanilla, and special editions with lemon, lime or coffee.
In response to consumer insistence on a more natural product, the company is in the process of phasing out E211, or sodium benzoate, the controversial additive used in Diet Coke and linked to DNA damage in yeast cells and hyperactivity in children. The company has stated that it plans to remove E211 from its other products, including Sprite and Oasis, as soon as a satisfactory alternative is found.
Pepsi is usually second to Coke in sales, but outsells Coca-Cola in some markets. Around the world, some local brands compete with Coke. In South and Central America Kola Real, known as Big Cola in Mexico, is a fast-growing competitor to Coca-Cola.On the French island of Corsica, Corsica Cola, made by brewers of the local Pietra beer, is a growing competitor to Coca-Cola. In the French region of Bretagne, Breizh Cola is available. In Peru, Inca Kola outsells Coca-Cola, which lead The Coca-Cola Company to purchase the brand in 1999. In Sweden, Julmust outsells Coca-Cola during the Christmas season. In Scotland, the locally-produced Irn-Bru was more popular than Coca-Cola until 2005, when Coca-Cola and Diet Coke began to outpace its sales. In India, Coca-Cola ranked third behind the leader, Pepsi-Cola, and local drink Thums Up. The Coca-Cola Company purchased Thums Up in 1993. As of 2004, Coca-Cola held a 60.9% market-share in India. Tropicola, a domestic drink, is served in Cuba instead of Coca-Cola, due to a United States embargo. French brand Mecca Cola and British brand Qibla Cola, popular in the Middle East, are competitors to Coca-Cola. In Turkey, Cola Turka is a major competitor to Coca-Cola. In Iran and many countries of Middle East, ZamZam Cola and Parsi Cola are major competitors to Coca-Cola. In some parts of China Future cola is a competitor. In Slovenia, the locally-produced Cockta is a major competitor to Coca-Cola, as is the inexpensive Mercator Cola, which is sold only in the country's biggest supermarket chain, Mercator. In Israel, RC Cola is an inexpensive competitor. Classiko Cola, made by Tiko Group, the largest manufacturing company in Madagascar , is a serious competitor to Coca-Cola in many regions. Laranjada is the top-selling soft drink on the Portuguese island of Madeira. Coca-Cola has stated that Pepsi was not its main rival in the UK, but rather Robinsons drinks.
Coca-Cola's advertising has significantly affected American culture, and it is frequently credited with inventing the modern image of Santa Claus as an old man in a red-and-white suit. Although the company did start using the red-and-white Santa image in the 1930s, with its winter advertising campaigns illustrated by Haddon Sundblom, the motif was already common. Coca-Cola was not even the first soft drink company to use the modern image of Santa Claus in its advertising: White Rock Beverages used Santa in advertisements for its ginger ale in 1923, after first using him to sell mineral water in 1915.
Before Santa Claus, Coca-Cola relied on images of smartly-dressed young women to sell its beverages. Coca-Cola's first such advertisement appeared in 1895, featuring the young Bostonian actress Hilda Clark as its spokeswoman.
1941 saw the first use of the nickname "Coke" as an official trademark for the product, with a series of advertisements informing consumers that "Coke means Coca-Cola".
In 1971, a song from a Coca-Cola commercial called "I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing," produced by Billy Davis, became a hit single.