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Coca-Cola and religion

When people attack America they usually mention Coca-Cola and McDonald’s restaurants. Why so? It’s because Coke and McDonald’s restaurants impose themselves on people. This is particularly true for Coke—nobody needs Coke and it’s like an anti-drink. When you drink it you feel more thirsty after you’ve finished it, but due to the way it’s marketed it’s often not consumed as an “occasional treat”—it’s often consumed by the litre.

It also advertises—a lot. That’s why you resent it, even if you drink it—Coke is always tugging at your sleeve to buy it and it never lets up, from banners at sporting events to little tabard adverts in toilets. Coke, Coke, Coke, drink Coke, buy Coke, Coke. Nobody says “Dr. Pepper—evil American imperialism” because Dr. Pepper doesn’t advertise (or, rather, I seem to recall I saw an advert about twenty years ago where it claimed to be “misunderstood”—Dr. Pepper is the awkward wallflower of soft drinks).

It’s unfortunate for Americans because their country is largely known abroad for Coke and McDonald’s—which represent the worst of America and not the best. In truth, root beer is the most sophisticated American soft drink—the only drink that tastes like a pharmacy (and haven’t you always wanted to drink the smell in the chemist’s shop?—I know I have); but root beer is too particularly American to find a mass market abroad (which means it’s higher quality than Coke, even for a mass-market product—it’s more “American, American” than Coke, it reflects the American palate with more acuity).

Christianity and Islam are like Coke—they just won’t give it a rest. From street preachers—both Muslim and Christian—to advertising hoardings and state legislation to make you follow them, these faiths like to tug at your sleeve all the time. Their “advertisement budget” is as lavish as for Coke—indeed, doesn’t Coke evangelise the world…for Coke? In consequence, everyone is annoyed with Jesus and Mohammad.

You notice that few people are annoyed with the Buddhists, Hindus, Jews, pagans, Shintos, and so on—why? Well, when I think about Jesus or Mohammad I feel irritated. I want to roll my eyes and say “here it comes” (the lecture, the advertisement, the rhetoric—why you must buy Jesus; sorry, “buy Coke”). I have no negative emotions towards Buddhists, Hindus, Jews, Sikhs, and so on because they’ve never tugged me on the sleeve and tried to “sell me on” their product.

Similarly, I feel annoyed with Scientologists in the same way as I feel annoyed with the Christers and the Mohammedans—because Scientologists want to sell you on “Dr. Hubbard’s cure-all tonic”. It’s unbearable (the smiles—fake). “But it will change your life!”. Yes—in the same way Coke will “quench your thirst” (for about ten seconds—after which you feel thirstier than ever). So the negative emotions come about due to the insistence.

It also means that Christianity and Islam are low-quality religions—because they’re for everyone, everyone can enjoy a swig from the magic potion. A religion is a harmony and, just like Coke, Christianity offers this sickly-sweet tune to brighten up your day (for a bit)...kumbaya, my Lord, kumbaya...and the Muslims offer a similarly sickly tonic that just goes…obey, obey, obey, obey, obey

I suppose it’s Pepsi versus Coke when it comes to these two religions, two sickly “universal brotherhood” religions for the rubes and the masses at the football stadiums…and, yes, there is a difference in flavour—and I do prefer Coke to Pepsi—but it’s not that different (it’s not root beer, anyway).

Because religion is about harmony it’s also about taste—and you’d like to think that people would modify their taste from S Club 7 and Coke at 15 to something more sophisticated as they age (or, at least, not play S Club 7 all the time). It’s about the same in religion…some people make do swigging “Coke” (kumbaya—sweet and sickly) for their whole lives. Well, de gustibus non est disputandum—but are higher quality products available and is the sweet stuff really good for you (always check the teeth on Christians—lots of fillings)?

I understand that Coca-Cola once had cocaine in it—perhaps that’s apocryphal, but, if so, it just demonstrates that what made it a quality product (a genuine tonic from the pharmacy to “pick you up”) had to be removed to make it a mass product. To make a product (or religion) comestible for the masses you have to take out its operative ingredient—then you have to advertise it all the time because nobody would buy it otherwise. The same can be said for Islam and Christianity.


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