We are currently working on a paper about the consequences of introducing Coca-Cola in Europe, in terms of the brand representing the American culture and values of the time. We would like to know...

We are currently working on a paper about the consequences of introducing Coca-Cola in Europe, in terms of the brand representing the American culture and values of the time. We would like to know whether this introduction was at the detrimental or beneficial to America and what were the first thoughts in Europe when it was first introduced in 1919 in France?

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jameadows eNotes educator| Certified Educator

According to Richard F. Kuisel's "Coca-Cola and the Cold War," France's first Coca-Cola bottling plant opened in 1949. While Coca-Cola was served in France in 1919 to American servicemen, the drink was not widely available until the 1950s. During World War II, it was not available at all. It was during the 1950s when France's politicians mounted an offensive against Coca-Cola, fearing the effects of Americanization. While it can be debated whether Coca-Cola was beneficial or detrimental to America (or, as is most likely the case, neutral if consumed in reasonable amounts), it was clearly deemed harmful to the culture of France. 

On February 28, 1950, according to Kuisel, the National Assembly gave the French government the power to ban the drink, first introduced in Atlanta in the 1880s, if it were discovered to be unhealthy. Few politicians were actually afraid of the drink's health effects. Some of the opposition came from France's wine growers and mineral water producers.

In addition, Communists in France were opposed to the country's ties to the United States. They feared what they called "the Coca-Cola invasion" and feared that France was becoming an American colony. The drink was highly associated with America and Americanization, as GIs during World War II were often observed drinking Coca-Cola while stationed in Europe. Coca-Cola's overseas marketing operations were led by a man named James Farley, a former aide to President Franklin Roosevelt. Farley said that other nations "look to the American nation to lead them out of difficulties," and he made an implicit connection between Coca-Cola and American assistance to overseas countries during the Cold War. Eventually, fearing that their financial support through the American Marshall Plan might be affected, the French government lifted the ban on the importation of Coca-Cola. 

 

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