Coke Legacies

According to journalist Stephen Blease, Santa Claus was not traditionally portrayed wearing any particular color of clothing. But….

It was Coca-Cola that popularized the idea that he dresses in red and white, by running a 30-year ad campaign in which Santa is shown sporting the colors of their brand. Now it’s so firmly embedded in our minds that it’s impossible to imagine him in anything else.

Having succeeded in influencing the Christmas-celebrating world to that extent, Coke is now accused of trying to accomplish another public relations coup: to convince England that the “countdown to Christmas” officially begins on the day the corporation’s big truck starts on its tour of the country, giving away free samples of its products. It has been nine years since this initiative began, but it’s not doing so well.

The year 2015 was a year of pushback against Coke and its arrogant corporate ways, including the “Holidays Are Coming” truck that the company wishes to make a cherished tradition, and many parents want to make disappear. Liverpool has put up strong resistance, and so have Carlisle, Cumbria, and other cities.

The 2017 Christmas truck tour included 38 locations, but in the following year the itinerary had sunk to 24 stops. The 2018 tour was severely curtailed, at the request of more than 80 organizations throughout Britain. This year, it was reduced to 19 stops, which Blease says involved driving 3,000 miles and using up an amount of diesel fuel that could have provided “shelter and food for 60 homeless people.”

Supposedly, allegedly, only a small percentage of the fizzy drinks given out by the truck are actually laced with sugar. That is not the point. People are starting to rebel against the corporate overlords, and some are mad because Coke is the world’s largest producer of the single-use plastic containers that clog waterway and oceans.

But wait, there is more. By the time British children are through with primary school, one-third of them are overweight or obese. Child obesity is not the only concern.

Dentists, who depend on sick teeth to make their living, are paradoxically in the forefront of the movement to prevent children from consuming sugar-sweetened beverages. In England, about a quarter of the 5-year-old children have painful cavities in their teeth, and dental professionals are extracting thousands of baby teeth every year — including from children two or three years old, who aren’t even accustomed yet to the idea of having teeth.

Meanwhile, the Coca-Cola corporation is the picture of blameless innocence, issuing such statements as,

We lead all our sampling with Coca-Cola zero sugar and expect more than 90 per cent of the samples we give away during the tour to be sugar-free. In line with our responsible marketing policy, we have a policy of not providing drinks to children under the age of 12, unless their parent or guardian is present and requests one.

And blah-blah-blah. In children’s diets, sugar-sweetened beverages are said to contribute more sugar than ice cream and all other desserts combined. Journalist Sarah Young quoted a National Health Services consultant in pediatric dentistry, Claire Stevens, who says,

All of the drinks are harmful, including the zero sugar version, as they cause erosion, which baby teeth are particularly susceptible to.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “Stephen Blease column: Christmas doesn’t need a Coca-Cola tradition,”, 11/30/19
Source: “Dentists Condemn Coca-Cola Christmas Truck Tour,”, 11/18/19
Image by Khedara/Flickr

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About Dr. Robert A. Pretlow

Dr. Robert A. Pretlow is a pediatrician and childhood obesity specialist. He has been researching and spreading awareness on the childhood obesity epidemic in the US for more than a decade.
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Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the American Society of Animal Science 2020 Conference
What’s Causing Obesity in Companion Animals and What Can We Do About It

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the World Obesity Federation 2019 Conference:
Food/Eating Addiction and the Displacement Mechanism

Dr. Pretlow’s Multi-Center Clinical Trial Kick-off Speech 2018:
Obesity: Tackling the Root Cause

Dr. Pretlow’s 2017 Workshop on
Treatment of Obesity Using the Addiction Model

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation for
TEC and UNC 2016

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the 2015 Obesity Summit in London, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s invited keynote at the 2014 European Childhood Obesity Group Congress in Salzburg, Austria.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2013 European Congress on Obesity in Liverpool, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2011 International Conference on Childhood Obesity in Lisbon, Portugal.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2010 Uniting Against Childhood Obesity Conference in Houston, TX.

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