The classic argument runs deeper than taste
// Liam Loxton

There has been a war fizzing for almost 40 years that continues to this day. I'm talking the war between PepsiCo products and the Coca-Cola family. This war has moved beyond North American borders and is being fought all over the world.
Coca-Cola has the top two dominant drinks, Diet and Classic Coke. Some say it's because Coke is less sweet and therefore easier to drink over a longer period of time; others claim it has a “cherry” tang to it. Either way, Coke's lead locally and internationally has brought attention to how it operates as a corporation. However, if one takes a closer look at the operations of both PepsiCo and Coca-Cola, some dirty secrets are revealed, and perhaps finally expose a winner for which soft drink company deserves our support.
A 2010 Michael Blanding investigative book entitled The Coke Machine: The dirty truth behind the world's favorite soft drink talks about the operations of Coca-Cola and some of its casualties. The book offers a glimpse inside the monopolization of school vending machines which has been linked to childhood obesity, union busting in Mexico creating unjustifiable conditions for its workers, murder of Colombian union members, and polluting water in India causing sickness among local villages; all crimes that have gone largely unreported in North America, thanks to Coca-Cola’s clever media control.
This is just the beginning of such atrocities that are being revealed. A campaign dubbed Killer Coke found at keeps visitors updated with all the corporation’s recent crimes against its workers, as well as listing all known injustices to date. All these are listed by country and range from denial of rights to murder.
One such story being highlighted is the accusation that Coke is propping up notorious Swaziland dictator King Mswati III, a man that has been accused of human rights abuses and of looting national wealth. The Swaziland Democracy Campaign is calling for Coca-Cola to pull out of the country immediately, but a representative of Coca-Cola has stated that they have no involvement with the political agenda of any country and has no plan to leave.
So if we want to be good global citizens, we should drink Pepsi, right? Pepsi does have more published praises versus Coca-Cola regarding its support of human rights, donating to disaster relief efforts, and environmental stewardship, including phasing out the use of genetically modified ingredients in its Frito Lay’s products.
There is less visible negative press circulating about PepsiCo because of a problem of transparency and media attention. This is because wherever there are protests against Coca Cola regarding water supply usage and treatment of employees, PepsiCo is just up the creek (sometimes literally). Some signs concerning their lack of social responsibility are visible, however, such as can be seen in a local lawsuit about a discovered mouse in a customer’s can. The prosecution is claiming a customer found a mouse in his Mountain Dew but PepsiCo says this is impossible. Why? Well, not because they have the utmost care in bottling their product and following health regulations, but because any mouse that could find its way into a Mountain Dew would be completely liquefied into an unrecognizable state.
When it really comes down to it, maybe we as consumers shouldn’t care about Pepsi vs. Coke anymore. Maybe it’s time to hit up that third option that both companies try to make us forget, tap water.

//By Liam Loxton, writer
//Graphics by JJ Brewis

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