The Fanta story

Fanta 002Fantastic. This may be more than you ever wanted to know about the super sweet soft drink Fanta, but it is a “fun” drink and it does have a fascinating history.

Most everybody knows this stuff is not good for us, but I had a craving for a Fanta Orange Soda the other day so I bought a 6 pack when I saw them on sale at the Big C (the local Chiang Mai supermarket). There actually are a lot of mysterious rumors associated with this soft drink, and I did a little research to find the truth about it.

Fascination of Fanta.  Fanta is more popular outside of the US than inside.

In America, Fanta is the 8th most popular soft drink, but worldwide it is number two.  And the number one soft drink company owns Fanta (guess who).  Brazil is the top consumer of Fanta, but it is very popular all over Latin America, all over Africa, all over Asia, including in our little kingdom of Thailand.  In the US, the Coca-Cola Company does not market Fanta around the country and promotes it in only regions where there are a lot of immigrants.

In 1955, the Coca Cola Company started re-marketing Fanta in Europe.  Most of Europe was familiar with the brand from the World War and sales were good back then.  Coke did very well with Fanta when they re-promoted in the 50′s there.  Coke soon expanded to other parts of the world, but not in the US.

In the sixties, Coke did take the Lemon-Lime flavored Fanta formula and re-bottled it as “Sprite” in the US, where it competed well with the market leader in that niche, 7-Up, which was owned by competitor Pepsi.  Now Sprite is doing quite well worldwide.

In Thailand, Fanta is really very popular.  Inside 7-11 stores which are EVERYWHERE in this country, Fanta is prominent.  It tastes like candy and it puts people on a sugar high for a few hours.  It is really good on a hot afternoon around 3 pm when you would rather be taking a nap but you have to get some work done.

Will drinking Fanta kill you?  Well, probably yes, but it is better for you than Coke and other junk we get a craving for once in a Blue Moon.  Fanta Orange soda has 110 calories. It does not contain any fat, cholesterol, protein or fiber, and only has 35 mg of sodium. The total amount of carbohydrates in this beverage is 30 g, which come exclusively from sugar. The soda does not contain any vitamins or minerals. It does not contain caffeine.  There are probably some bad chemicals in there as well.  I have been told it has a dash of Benzene which in large quantities can promote cancer,  but the FDA in the US says there is not enough in a can of Fanta to do anything (not that I believe much of what FDA says anyway).  For sure, water is better for you, but water won’t give you that kick when you need it.

Big Bucks for a Fanta?  If you pop down to the local 7-11 in Thailand, Brazil or any other Fanta market, it is pretty cheap.  Where it is not sold, however, a can of Fanta can be very pricey.  Some collectors want to have product from around the world, and they are sold on ebay and other websites. Check out this ebay auction:

For anyone wanting a can of Fanta from Thailand (Thai writing, etc.), the American Expat is happy to send it to you anywhere in the world.  Any flavor available; for a full can, $3 USD each plus actual postal cost, or an empty can $2 USD plus actual postal cost.  and payment can be made via paypal (accepts most credit cards).  Can mail via slow mail (cheap, takes about 30 days) or by air mail (costs more but arrives in less than a week).  Just shoot me an email with your request:

FANTA – The Nazi Drink with the Reich Stuff?

There are rumors out there that Fanta was invented by Adolph Hitler in defiance of his adversaries in the War.  Turns out there is a tiny grain of truth in that but it is mostly pure fiction.

Britain and France declared War on Germany in 1939 (you should know it was not Hitler that declared war on the Allies. His hostilities against Poland to re-unite the German areas of Poland that were taken away from Germany with the Treaty of Versailles motivated other nations to declare war on Germany).  With that came an automatic embargo by Britain and France against Germany, and America shortly thereafter in support of Britain.

International companies, like Coca-Cola found themselves in a pickle.  Germany was a big Coke drinking market, and before the War they had 43 bottling plants in Germany and more than 600 local distributors.  The Coca-Cola German headquarters were in the city of  Essen.   In 1938, the man in charge of Coca-Cola’s operations in Germany, American-born Ray Powers (the guy that built the German market for Coca-Cola), died of injuries received in an automobile accident and the company was then handed over to his right-hand man, Max Keith.  This German guy in charge proved to be a very noble fellow to the company and the employees.

The secret ingredients and syrup of Coca-Cola came from Atlanta, Georgia in the US, which the German operations could no longer get because of the embargo.  Keith had a big plant full of a lot of employees that wanted to continue working and a marketplace that was eager to continue drinking soft drinks, so he did the natural thing and that was to come up with a new soft drink for the new Germany.

The name Fanta was picked by one of the German Coca-Cola salesmen, Joe Knipp in a name contest.  The name Fanta comes from ‘‘fantasie’”which is German for “imagination”.  The name had to be approved by the Coke offices in the US and it was, and the brand name became the first non-coke brand name of the company.  Despite the upcoming hostilities and the commencement of war, Coca-Cola always considered Fanta to be their product, even though Fanta was not available to the US market and communications to Germany were cut off.

Of course, Hitler was jubilant that Germany could come up with its own product and praised the adaptability of this bottling company in Germany.  That’s how the rumor started that it was Hitler’s idea, but he really was not very involved in it.

Ein Volk, Ein Reich, Ein Getrank (One People, One Nation, One Drink) Olympic Games in Berlin 1936

Ein Volk, Ein Reich, Ein Getrank (One People, One Nation, One Drink) Olympic Games in Berlin 1936

There is a contrarian view of Coca-Cola’s relationship with Hitler and the Nazis that is worth mentioning.  There are those that say the leadership of the corporation supported the Nazis in every way possible.  For instance, in the notorious 1936 Olympics in Munich that Hitler used as a platform to introduce the New Nazi Germany to the World, Coca-Cola was one of the main sponsors.

Coca-Cola also sponsored through advertising many of the infamous Nazi rallies in sport stadiums with billboards, supported Nazi magazines with advertising and had radio spots for Coke  placed on Reichsrundfunk, the Nazi news broadcast on radio.

Max Keith – the Ultimate “Company Man”

After the War, the conglomerate reclaimed ownership of the German bottling plant and took back the name Fanta.  During the time of separation from the soft drink super power, Max Keith could have easily shut down the bottling plant and re-opened under his ownership, but instead Keith remained loyal to Coke.  During the war, according to the company, there was a lot of pressure on Max Keith (a business celebrity in Germany) to become a Nazi party member, but he never did.  Unfortunately, Keith sported a little mustache very much like der Fuhrer’s and attended many Nazi celebrations, including being part of Hitler’s 50th birthday celebration  at Nazi conventions.  This brought a bit of suspicion on him by the American victors, but he was cleared after an investigation.

Because of Keith’s devotion to corporate headquarters, Coca-Cola was able to start up production of Coke in Germany almost immediately after the war.  Keith turned over the Fanta profits earned during the war years to the Coca-Cola headquarters.

As far as “company men” go, Max Keith is a shining example and hero of the corporate elite.

How Fanta became an “Orange Drink”

There are not too many oranges that can grow in Germany, so it was just a fluke that Fanta became an “Orange Drink”.  Max Keith had to use whatever ingredients were available to him to produce a soft drink for his big market.  He would have preferred to come up with something that tasted very similar to Coca-Cola and looked like it with a deep Carmel coloring, but most of those ingredients were simply not available to embargoed Germany in 1940.  The actual ingredients for Fanta were devised by a Dr. Schetelig in the Fanta/Coke offices under the employ of Max Keith.

Fanta was created using apple fiber remaining from cider pressing and whey, a byproduct from cheese manufacture.  It had a more yellow color than orange, but the combination was a taste similar to today’s orange soft drink.  Some say it looked like ginger ale because it was very light in color. The ingredients and taste varied over the time period of the war as supplies changed.  Despite that, Fanta became very popular with Germans and other nations that supported Germany during this time.  Who would have thought that you could take dried up pieces of apple and mix it with the waste from making cheese and come up with a good soft drink?

Because of Fanta’s sweetness, many resourceful German housewives used it in the preparation of soups and stews during the war.  And who would have thought you could do that?

It’s all pretty amazing.

Today, there are a huge number of Fanta flavors, and they vary with regions in order to accommodate different tastes.  Understand that a fruit flavored Fanta probably has very little or none of the actual fruit in it (ah, the power of chemicals). You can get the full list HERE.

The Pope Drinks Four Fanta every Day!  Pope Is Secret Fanta Fan – Daily Record (UK) – 02 February 2008

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