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6 Things You Didn't Know About Coca-Cola

By Daniel B. Kline - Jun 20, 2017 at 4:43PM

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You know the brand, but the company still has some secrets.

Coca-Cola (KO -0.27%) has near-total brand name recognition. While the company sells much more than its signature cola, that product has become iconic -- an item you know whether you drink it or not.

Through decades of high-profile advertising Coke has burned images of soda pouring from its red and white can into the collective consciousness. The company has even taken some of its ad slogans including "Coke is it," and "It's the real thing," as well as its use of the song "I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing," and made them well-known in their own right.

Coca-Cola is an iconic American brand that has been shipped around the world. And while the company has long battled with PepsiCo (PEP -0.58%) for soda dominance, few would argue that Classic Coke is not the best-known soda brand in the U.S. and abroad.

People know a lot about Coca-Cola, but not everything. Here are six facts about the company that may surprise you.

A woman holds a plate with the Coca-Cola logo.

Coca-Cola is sold around the world and the company has a store devoted to its own merchandise in Orlando, Florida. Image source: Coca-Cola.

Yes, it did used to contain cocaine

When Coca-Cola first hit the market, it was sold as a medicine. And, in a sense, it was because the soft drink contained cocaine. That sounds like stuff of urban legends, but, which verifies whether tales like this are true, says it is, though it notes that that the actual amount was a "mere trace."

"How much cocaine was in that 'mere trace' is impossible to say, but we do know that by 1902 it was as little as 1/400 of a grain of cocaine per ounce of syrup," according to the website. "Coca-Cola didn't become completely cocaine-free until 1929, but there was scarcely any of the drug left in the drink by then."

Coke is not the same everywhere

While Coca-Cola's name goes on cans around the world, not every country uses the same recipe. In Mexico for example, some bottlers use cane sugar in making the drink rather than high-fructose corn syrup. That recipe has actually gained popularity in the U.S. causing some retailers to import what's informally known as "MexiCoke," and leading to Pepsi releasing its own take on cola made with sugar not corn syrup.

The company's logo has barely changed

While the company disastrously fiddled with its recipe in the 1980s leading to the "New Coke" debacle, its logo has remained basically the same for over 125 years. There have been small tweaks, but the basic font dates back to 1886 -- a remarkable run of consistency which may have helped the brand become so ubiquitous.

The Oracle of Omaha love Coca-Cola

Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway owns almost 10% of Coca-Cola. The famous investor has not only held a major stake in the company for more than 25 years, he's a huge fan of the company's signature beverage. Buffett has even claimed/joked that he gets 25% of his caloric intake from drinking the soft drink.

Flavors vary by country

It's not just the company's signature soda that varies by country, but its entire product lineup of beverages varies by country. Coca-Cola sells drinks in various markets that are matched to local tastes.

Some of the flavors are very unique and not what most Americans expect in a soda. Many of the flavors can be tasted at the company's museum in Atlanta as well as at its store in Orlando, Florida.

KO Revenue (Annual) Chart

Image source: YCharts.

Coke is big, but not the biggest

While Coca-Cola has achieved much of its name recognition from its cola, the company sells around 3,500 distinct brands. It also produces over $40 billion a year in annual revenue. Oddly enough, as you can see above, that actually makes it a smaller company by revenue than PepsiCo.

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