Fanta: How One Man In Nazi Germany Created a Global Soda

Fanta: How One Man In Nazi Germany Created a Global Soda
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    Fanta: a drink enjoyed by millions every day that actually has a very interesting origin.
    In this video we're going back to the Second World War to see how it ended up creating
    one of the most iconic beverages in the world.
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    in the description.
    The year is 1933, and while Hitler had just come to power, another force was also rising
    in Germany.
    Coca Cola, one of the quintessential American companies, had entered the German market in
    1929 on the back of this guy, Max Keith.
    He had single handedly built the company's entire infrastructure in Germany, starting
    with a bottling plant in Frankfurt and warehouses in Cologne.
    He and an army of salesmen would scour the streets of every major city, distributing
    pamphlets and putting up posters until every German knew about Coca Cola.
    Through his aggressive marketing Keith did something truly remarkable: he got a country
    with centuries of alcoholic traditions to actually start drinking soda instead.
    Of course, Keith's timing was impeccable.
    He built factories and hired people when everything was cheap because of the Great Depression.
    Then, when Germany started recovering in the early 1930s, Keith's Coca Cola was the first
    product many people bought when they finally had some disposable income.
    Technology too was helping Keith: refrigerators had swept across America in the 1930s and
    were making their way to Germany too, allowing an unprecedented amount of people to enjoy
    a cold Coca Cola.
    Of course, Keith was very careful in his advertising: he went to great lengths to hide the fact
    that Coca Cola was actually an American business.
    He listed the German subsidiary in every single advert and even tried to obscure the ownership
    structure by claiming that the American company wasn't a shareholder, but only a lender,
    providing the secret formula and the money.
    In a way, Keith was right: his phenomenal success convinced his American supervisors
    to give him incredible independence, so much so that by 1935 he was producing 7 out of
    the 9 secret ingredients to Coca Cola in his own factories.
    By that point Germany had already become Coca Cola's biggest market outside of America,
    but Keith was only just getting started.
    The 1936 Olympics held in Berlin became a moment of triumph as much for Hitler as for
    Keith himself.
    As Germany won 33 gold medals, more than any other country, Keith's Coca Cola banners
    flew throughout the event and he ended up selling over a million cases of Coca Cola
    that year.
    And yet despite this accomplishment, a new threat loomed above Keith's cola empire.
    Under Hitler's orders, the German economy was to embark upon a four year plan towards
    rearmament and self-sufficiency, and that meant much fewer shipments from America.
    Keith had no choice but to expand production even further: in 1938 he had nine factories
    under construction, with 43 operational.
    When the Nazis annexed Austria in March of that year, Keith was quick to establish a
    subsidiary there six months later.
    And yet this wave of expansion would be cut very short, for in September 1939 Hitler's
    troops marched into Poland and began the Second World War.
    Coca Cola shipments from America were very limited and were stopped altogether when the
    US itself entered the war in 1941.
    As the director of an American-owned company, Keith was afraid that he might be imprisoned
    and his business nationalized, which is exactly what happened to the German subsidiaries of
    General Motors and IBM.
    The Nazi bureaucracy was eager to continue with the nationalizations it had performed
    throughout the 1930s and Keith was an easy target.
    His only solution was to join the bureaucracy himself, and luckily enough he happened to
    be friends with the Nazi Minister of Justice, who appointed Keith to the Office of Enemy
    From this position Keith was not only safe from the Nazis, but he could also save the
    other European Coca Cola companies too.
    As the German war machine swept across Europe, Keith would take over the Coca Cola factories
    of France, the Netherlands, Belgium and Norway.
    But of course, all the factories in the world would be useless if they didn't have anything
    to produce, and Keith had no more shipments coming from America.
    He rationed the two missing Coca Cola ingredients as best he could, reserving his limited supply
    for use in Nazi hospitals, but even this rationing lasted only a few years.
    Keith had to either find a new product or go bankrupt, but with the German economy approaching
    total mobilization, the ingredients available to him were extremely scarce.
    Keith got his chemists to create a recipe from what he called "the leftovers of the
    leftovers", which included the apple fiber left from cider presses and whey, the watery
    substance that remains after milk has been curdled to make cheese.
    Depending on what produce was coming in from Italy, the recipe would also sometimes include
    grapes, lemons and oranges, but even then the resulting cloudy, brownish liquid was
    far from tasty.
    In fact, it wasn't even used as a drink most of the time, but instead people were
    watering down their soups with it.
    Nevertheless, Keith finally had a product he could readily produce, and starting in
    1940, the Coca Cola factories of Europe were once again running at full capacity.
    To come up with a brand name for his new product, Keith instructed his salesmen to use their
    imagination, or Fantasie in German.
    That word became the codename of the product and eventually it was shortened to just Fanta
    and Keith ran with it.
    By the time Keith's supply of Coca Cola ran out entirely in 1943, he was selling 3
    million cases of Fanta per year, but with the Eastern Front turning against Germany,
    the war was starting to take its toll.
    When the army began requisitioning Keith's trucks, he had to start bottling carbonated
    water in order to get his company on the list of businesses "essential" to the war effort.
    And yet, from 1943 onward the German Air Force was steadily obliterated, to the point where
    the Allies were bombing German cities daily with impunity.
    Every single one of Keith's factories was bombed at least once during the war, while
    his headquarters in the industrial city of Essen were completely leveled.
    By January 1945, the Nazi government was collapsing in on itself and it was looking for traitors
    which it could blame.
    The Ministry of Justice was no longer safe for Keith: first it ordered him to change
    his company's name to anything other than Coca Cola, and then it summoned him to Berlin
    for "questioning" and to begin the process of nationalizing his company.
    By that point Keith's friend was dead and he had been replaced, but in a streak of incredible
    luck the very next week the Allies bombed the Ministry of Justice, killing the new minister
    and practically saving Keith from certain death.
    For the next three months he would continue bottling Fanta until the Americans found him
    in a partially destroyed factory in May 1945.
    His first telegraph to the American headquarters was to confirm that the German subsidiary
    was still alive and to ask for help, but the Americans were way ahead of him.
    As the Allies liberated Europe, Coca Cola engineers sent for the US were marching right
    behind them, rebuilding their factories and bottling Coca Cola in Germany as early as
    In America, Keith was hailed as hero: not only had he kept the company alive, he never
    officially became a member of the Nazi party, keeping Coca Cola away from the taint of fascism.
    For his efforts Keith was made president of Coca Cola Europe and after a few years of
    careful planning he released a proper version of Fanta worldwide in 1955.
    Since then Fanta has become one of Coca Cola's best selling beverages, but it all happened
    thanks to one man's audacity to make soda in the face of Nazi Germany.
    Speaking of Nazi Germany, you can watch two awesome documentaries on the bombing campaign
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    Anyway, thank you for watching.
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    We're gonna be seeing each other again in two weeks and until then: stay smart.
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