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The Coke Machine: The Dirty Truth Behind The World's Favorite Soft Drink Revealed


Coke is the most valuable brand in history and "Coca-Cola" is the world's second-most recognized word after "hello." But is the Coca-Cola Company really practicing what they preach? Or is the real story of Coke one of clever marketing and public relations covering up a history of environmental harm, violence, union-busting, and health endangerment?

The Coke Machine: The Dirty Truth Behind the World's Favorite Soft Drink by Michael Blanding is a controversial new book that answers this question. As a journalist specializing in social activism, who still has a glass of Coke from time to time, Blanding traveled the globe seeking out the truth about its most recognized brand.


Some of Blanding's findings include:


• Coke's unique distribution system allows it to avoid responsibility for poor labor standards in bottling plants but allows the company to continue to reap the profits

• Coke uses "public relations propaganda" to convince consumers that it is an "environmental company" when really it is linked to pollution, water shortages, and disease

• Coke is so integrated into the culture of the Chiapas highlands in Mexico that it is used in religious ceremonies because followers believe the drink will help you directly commune with God.

• Coke has historical ties to the Nazis, including how it profited from sales of a new drink in Nazi Germany called Fanta even as the U.S. military was funding the expansion of its bottling plants overseas.

• It's cheaper and easier to buy Coke in some third world countries than it is to access clean water

• The company has taken filtered tap water and branded it as Dasani, to create an image of purity despite studies showing bottled water is no better, and sometimes worse for you than tap (at its launch in England, Dasani was found to have more chemicals than the Thames)

• Coke's failure to intervene as paramilitary forces infiltrated bottling plants in South America and killed eight Coke workers and kidnapped, tortured, or threatened dozens of others-one of whom says that "drinking Coke is like drinking the blood of the workers"

The Coke Machine explores allegations of underhanded legal tactics, backroom deals, and indisputably shady behavior from the highest echelons of the company. Blanding's investigative work into Coke took him from one side of the globe to the other-talking to workers, politicians, activists, lawyers, and Coke executives. He found that Coke's biggest enemy has been the social activism of parent groups, university students, union workers, and non-profit organizations that have stood up and demanded that the company be accountable for their benevolent image. Coke, however, has made an art of denying, simplifying, distracting and ultimately disregarding any mention of social wrong-doing.

Through on-site reporting, never-before-exposed documents, and candid interviews, The Coke Machine is a probing look into the excesses of power obtained through and maintained by any means necessary. For the first time ever, The Coke Machine gives an insider's look into how Coke rose to power and the corporate playbook that helps it stay there. The Coke Machine is a book rich in facts, intrigue and insider knowledge.

In August 2009, Neville Isdell, then CEO of Coca-Cola, shared a power point with his shareholders showing Mexico consumed some 600 cups of Coke products per person per year, and the US had 400, while the global average languished at 100. "What an amazing opportunity!" he concluded. World domination is still the goal. As another of Coke's CEO's once put it, Coca-Cola envisions a world where the C in the kitchen faucet doesn't stand for "cold."

Michael Blanding is an award-winning magazine writer covering social justice, politics, and travel. A firm believer in the credo that journalism should "afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted," he has written for publications including The Nation, The New Republic, Consumers Digest, The Boston Globe Sunday Magazine, and Boston Magazine, where he is a contributing editor. Visit www.thecokemachine.com


Reference Sources
November 11, 2010


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