Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The Great American Mistake

Coca-Cola is America. Or so they are always telling us.

Can anybody really argue? It was invented in America, patented in America, peddled in America, and mutated into a thriving international megacorporation by generations of enterprising American businessmen over the last 125 years (happy anniversary, btw).

Coca-Cola is a potent symbol of American ingenuity, a shining emblem of American capitalism, and the perfect example of everything that is wrong about where we have come as a nation.

Fact: The syrup used by Coca-Cola bottlers (who are largely independently-owned and operated, although Coca-Cola, Inc. is a minority owner in most of them) is manufactured in the United States, the process involves spent coca leaves imported from South America, and the story is fascinating.

Fact: Foreign bottlers have the option of sweetening their country's Coca-Cola to local taste--the syrup is just the patented secret flavor and contains no sweeteners.

Fact: I buy my Coca-Cola from Mexico because they use real sugar instead of corn syrup.

Fact: Any American who tastes Mexican Coca-Cola will never go back to American Coca-Cola.

Fact: This should be phenomenally embarrassing for Coca-Cola, Inc. and yet they don't seem to care at all or have any plans to revert to using real sugar. Why would they? They are making a shit-ton of money ["Shit-ton" = 1 with 100 million zeroes after it. -Ed.] and sugar costs $0.02 more per shit-ton than corn syrup, so it makes NO sense from a corporate-bottom-line standpoint to make their beverage taste the way it used to and always should.

Fact: This is proof that American businessmen have their heads so far up their asses they only think in the short-term and don't care what customers want, only what they are willing to consume because they don't think they have a better option.

How ridiculous is it that Mexicans have a higher standard of Coca-Cola drinking than Americans, who invented it and have a higher standard of living? Very.

Why is this irony a reality? Well, apparently Mexicans give way more of a shit about what they are drinking than Americans. I imagine at some point Mexican bottlers tossed around the idea of switching from sugar to corn syrup and I imagine some brilliant businessman at the top of the food chain told those young schmucks to sit down and stop speaking at board meetings. Or maybe the lynch mob gathering outside their window made them reconsider?

The point is that the Mexican bottlers are proving their long-term business strategy is leagues ahead of their American counterparts, who think their laurels will stand the test of time because they want them to.

Mexican Coke used to be sold only in Mexico. Now--during an ongoing energy crisis and Great Depression Redux--it is being delivered to and sold in Southern California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Chicago, New York...where will it go next?

Eventually, it will be everywhere. Eventually, there will be heated competition between American and Mexican Coke. Eventually, American bottlers--backed by Coca-Cola, Inc. suits--will ban the importation of Coca-Cola from Mexico after spending $100 million lobbying Congress and breaking Mexican kneecaps.

Why not spend that $100 million on sugar and make the Coke everybody wants to drink? That is not the American way; it would make too much sense.

The reason Coca Cola will never do this is that it is no longer a beverage company--like every other large American corporation it has become a money machine that operates on a quarterly timetable and short-term financial figures are all that matter, shareholder/executive compensation is all that matters.

Budweiser has proven year after year that stupid people will drink anything as long as you spend a lot of money on lifestyle-oriented advertising and this depressing fact will not go softly into the night when there is money to made by the shit-ton from people who don't know any better.

Here's to you, America--at least you are still rich and beautiful on paper as the frigid waters of the second and third worlds slowly envelop your arrogant, festering corpse. May the many-tongued derisions of your more-astute rivals echo in your ears for eternity at the bottom of the desolate ocean you polluted to extinction as you are forced to watch an unending loop of Hollywood's greatest flops created by businessmen because they know better than artists.



James said...

This is enthrallingly written as usual, but I'm not sure I agree with the premise that "Any American who tastes Mexican Coca-Cola will never go back to American Coca-Cola." While I wholeheartedly agree that Mexican coke is vastly superior in all ways to American coke, I am in the unfortunate position of knowing MANY individuals who would argue the opposite with just as much conviction. Presumably, in most cases at least, these sad excuses for human beings have tasted Mexican coke at some point, and enthusiastically went back to their patriotic, synthetic alternative. If there was meaningful demand for Mexican coke throughout America today, Mexican coke would be available everywhere by now, even in places devoid of us hip, semi-healthful, educated city-dwellers who like the retro glass bottles and to whom it occurs that Coke is a global corporation that mass distributes a mind-altering beverage on a mind-bending scale and not just another ambient product that tastes good and is available everywhere so it must be ok, right. My point is I don't think most of America is "ready" for Mexican coke, in its existing incarnation. I do agree (and pray, to nothing in particular) that you are right about an imminent showdown between Mexican coke and American coke, although I think it will be a long time coming still. When it does happen, I want courtside seats, and a watery beer.

Goodtime Charlie said...

Well, I agree people go back to American Coke, but I would argue they do so largely because it is available everywhere. Once Mexican Coke spreads (and infiltrating a foreign market takes time, James) and is available almost as readily, we shall see which taste the people really prefer. Will there be folks who prefer corn syrup? Probably. Will there be enough of them to stop Coca-Cola, Inc. from switching back to sugar or getting squeezed out by Mexican bottlers? Time will tell...