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How the 'Blood Feud' Between Coke and Pepsi Escalated During the 1980s Cola Wars

June 11, 2019 in History

By Becky Little

The great Cola Wars of the 1980s were a battle between Coca-Cola and PepsiCo for dominance. The disastrous introduction of “New Coke” in 1985 appeared to set Coca-Cola back. Yet by the end of the year, it was clear the “mistake” had actually helped Coca-Cola’s sales, allowing Coke to retain its spot as the largest-selling soda over Pepsi.

The two companies were both well-established by the time the Cola Wars broke out. Coca-Cola dated back to 1886, when a pharmacist in Atlanta invented the drink and began selling it to soda fountains. Six years later, the Coca-Cola Company was founded by another Atlanta pharmacist who’d secured the recipe (which contained small amounts of cocaine until 1929). Up in North Carolina, another pharmacist invented his own sugar-drink in 1893. After seeing the success of Coca-Cola, he changed his soda’s name from “Brad’s Drink” to “Pepsi-Cola” in 1898 and founded the Pepsi-Cola Company in 1902.

Over the next several decades, Coke emerged as the more popular soda. Starting in 1931, its famous Santa Claus ads marketed it as a refreshing drink you could enjoy year round. Meanwhile, the Pepsi-Cola Company struggled financially and went through several reorganizations (in 1965, it merged with Frito-Lay, Inc. to become PepsiCo, Inc.). But in 1975, Pepsi started a marketing campaign that gave Coke a run for its money: the “Pepsi Challenge,” a blind taste test showing more people preferred Pepsi over Coke.

“The Pepsi Challenge was not just a marketing gimmick—it was true,” says David Greising, author of I’d Like the World to Buy a Coke: The Life and Leadership of Roberto Goizueta, Coca-Cola’s CEO. Internal studies at Coca-Cola “confirmed what the Pepsi Challenge was showing, which is that if you just look at the taste of the beverage, consumers preferred Pepsi,” which had a “sweeter, more syrupy flavor.”

Coke was still outselling Pepsi, but its market share was declining as Pepsi’s was rising. “Part of the problem with the success of the Pepsi Challenge was that Coke had fallen into a malaise as a brand,” he says. “People were in love with the notion of Coca-Cola but they weren’t necessarily drinking Coca-Cola.”

Cans of New Coke and Coca-Cola Classic on display during a news conference in Atlanta, 1985.

READ MORE: The New Coke Flop

In response, Coca-Cola started doing a few things differently. …read more


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Women of the WWII Workforce: Photos Show the Real-Life Rosie the Riveters

June 11, 2019 in History

By Madison Horne

Embodying patriotism and strength, these women stepped into roles once closed off to them to support the war efforts on the home front and abroad.

When the United States entered

These Black Female Heroes Made Sure U.S. WWII Forces Got Their Mail

Wartime Propaganda Helped Recruit the ‘Hidden Army’ of Women to Defeat Hitler

How the Great Depression Affected Working Women

Why Many Married Women Were Banned From Working During the Great Depression

…read more


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12 of the Most Iconic Cars in TV History

June 11, 2019 in History

By Robert Kahn

From the Batmobile to Mr. Bean’s Minis…from KITT to General Lee…here are some of the coolest, most memorable small-screen car stars.

The TV and auto industries have flourished side by side for 70 years, so it’s only natural that the vehicles driven by characters of the small screen are as etched in our memories as the costumes they wore and the places they called home. Here are a dozen celebrated TV rides that still get our motors racing.

’Munster Koach‘ Model-T Hot Rod/Hearse Hybrid

’The Munsters’ (1964-66)

Cannibalize parts from three Model Ts and one hearse, combine them in a creepy, kooky way and add details like casket handles, “blood-red” velvet upholstery and spider-web headlights, and you’ve got the Munster Koach, the ideal car for a spooky sitcom family whose patriarch worked in a funeral home and looked like Frankenstein. A creation of renowned Hollywood car customizer George Barris—who was given three weeks by the studio to make it—the 18-foot-long Koach nonetheless included many hand-formed elements, like the brass radiator and fenders. Powered by a 289 cu.-in. Ford Cobra V8 engine, the long, low-slung ride was a tight fit for star Fred Gwynne, who stood 7 feet tall in his Herman Munster costume. The seat cushion had to be removed for him to get behind the wheel.

’Batmobile’ Lincoln Futura Concept Car (1955)

’Batman’ (1966-68)

Holy return on investment! Designed for the campy caped-crusader series, the “Batmobile” began life as a concept car built in Italy, based on a Lincoln Mark II. In 1965, Tinseltown customizer George Barris bought it for $1. That year, 20th Century Fox asked him to design Batman’s ride for its upcoming series—again giving him just a few weeks of turnaround time, according to Eric Seltzer, who operates Barris made hundreds of modifications to the Futura, like those aluminum bat symbols bolted to the hubs and a steering wheel designed to resemble an airplane yoke. (West complained that the “U”-shape made the car too difficult to drive, so Barris replaced it with a stock wheel from a 1958 Edsel.) Sadly for the Spandex-clad stars Adam West and Burt Ward, the car never had any Bat Air Conditioning. In 1966, Barris’s shop, Barris Kustom City, took molds of the “#1 Batmobile” and created at least three replicas. In 2013, Barris sold the original for $4.6 million to an Arizona businessman. It changed hands again in 2016 …read more