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Citizen Coke

The Making of Coca-Cola Capitalism

Bartow J. Elmore (Author, University of Alabama)


An absorbing history of how Coke’s insatiable thirst for natural resources shaped the company and reshaped the globe.

Coca-Cola’s success in building a global empire drew on more than a secret formula and brilliant advertising. The secret to Coke’s success was its strategy to offload production costs and risks on to suppliers and franchisees. Outsourcing and a trim corporate profile enabled Coke to scale up production of a low-price beverage and realise huge profits.

But the costs shed by Coke have fallen on the public at large. Coke now uses an annual 79 billion gallons of water and its reliance on corn syrup has helped fuel our obesity crisis. Bartow J. Elmore explores Coke through its ingredients, showing how the company secured massive quantities of coca leaf, caffeine, sugar and other inputs. Coke became a giant in a world of abundance. In a world of scarcity it is a strain on resources and all who depend on them.

Book Details

  • Hardcover
  • November 2014
  • ISBN 978-0-393-24112-9
  • 6.5 × 9.6 in / 432 pages
  • Sales Territory: Worldwide

Endorsements & Reviews

“A well-researched and accessible history of one of the world’s most iconic brands.” — Publishers Weekly

“Coca-Cola is one of the most powerful economic institutions of our time, but its social and ecological impacts remain understudied. Now, in the hands of a talented young historian, corporate capitalism gets the attention it deserves in a careful dissection of the material underpinnings of the world’s most valuable brand. Citizen Coke will cause you to drink less and think more.” — Ted Steinberg, author of Gotham Unbound: The Ecological History of Greater New York

“"...this is a carefully researched and thoughtful history of a fascinating corporation..."” — Times Higher Education

Citizen Coke is a brilliant analysis of Coke’s empire in ecological, economic, and social terms. It allows us to see the contours of an economy based on partnerships between governments and corporations like Coca-Cola. It makes us conscious of the giant ecological footprint of the Real Thing, which impacts the real lives of real people. If you want a deeper understanding of our world today, read Citizen Coke.” — Vandana Shiva, author of Stolen Harvest: The Hijacking of the Global Food Supply

“"forceful, deeply researched book…"” — Financial Times

“A fascinating, thought-provoking approach to Coca-Cola history through the drink’s primary ingredients—water, sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, coca leaf, caffeine—and the glass, plastic, and aluminum that contain them.” — Mark Pendergrast, author of For God, Country & Coca-Cola

“[Offers] unaccustomed perspectives on a company whose leading product is a household name around the globe… thought-provoking.” — Marc Levinson, Wall Street Journal

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