The Cola Wars have been raging for over a century now, turning soda into a multi billion dollar a year industry. But just who are the titans of this industry, how did they get to where they are, and which of them reigns supreme? We thought it would be fun to take a closer look at the two soft drink kings and see how they stack up next to one another in this episode of the Infographics Show, Coke vs Pepsi.
Everyone and their mother knows about Coca-Cola because it’s literally everywhere. Well, except for Cuba and North Korea. But everywhere else, it’s a well known beverage, there is candy flavored like it, there are huge advertisements at the movies, and our favorite YouTubers gets sponsored to use their products. Hell, in the US it’s not considered Christmas time until the Coke commercial comes on TV.
That said, we’ve all experienced going to a restaurant and being asked, “We don’t have Coke, is Pepsi ok?” Most of the time, we say yes without even thinking about it. But today we’re going to think about it: What actually is the difference? Is Pepsi that much less popular? Let’s take a closer look…
Coca-Cola was created in a drugstore in Columbus, Georgia in 1885. Injured soldier John Pemberton invented Coca-Cola to help him get over his morphine addiction. He did this by creating a French Coca Wine, which was made from Wine, Caffeine, and Cocaine, thus giving it its name. The idea was to lift his spirits and numb the pain with something other than morphine. It was also sold as a treatment for indigestion, nerve disorders, headaches, and impotence. Wine was removed from the product in 1886 to create the first true batch of Coca-Cola. It should be noted that, yes, the product did contain cocaine well into the early 1900s, until people started fearing that black men were using cocaine to rape white women. You gotta love history, folks. Sadly, Pemberton’s attempts to kick his morphine addiction were fruitless, and although he died an addict, he did leave behind a very tasty beverage.
Pepsi was also created for medical purposes, but almost a full decade later in 1893 in a small drug store in New Bern, North Carolina. Pepsi was originally called “Brad’s Drink” for the first 5 years, after its creator, American Pharmacist Caleb Bradham. The name was changed to Pepsi in 1898 as a play on the ingredients used in the original recipe, the digestive enzyme pepsin and kola nuts. The creator of Pepsi also made bold claims about the medicinal properties of his new soft drink, insisting that it could aid digestion and boost energy.
A 12 oz can of Coca-Cola contains 39g of sugar, which is almost 8 teaspoons, whereas Pepsi contains 41g of sugar, closer to about 8.2 teaspoons. Pepsi also uses sweeteners, making it the much sweeter beverage. As far as caffeine goes, a can of Pepsi contains 38mg of it, whereas Coke has 34mg. Annually, Coke sells 2.3 billion gallons of Coca-Cola Classic in the U.S. alone, which is about 6.4 million gallons every single day, while Pepsi sells just over half that with 1.2 billion gallons of Pepsi Cola in the U.S, or about 3.4 million gallons a day
But enough about drink recipes and cans of soda sold…how do Coke and Pepsi, as companies, compare to one another. Every company has a Market Cap, which is basically a fancy way of saying how much the company is worth, and Coca-Cola’s Market cap is a whopping $180 billion. Pepsi’s Market Cap is $150 billion, which may not seem like a big difference, but $30 billion is a lot of cheddar. The annual revenues of each company tells a very different story, though. In 2015, Coke brought in $43.7 billion in revenue, while Pepsi brought in $63.1 billion.
So how do these numbers add up? Is it that more people buy Coke but Pepsi is more expensive? Not quite. We mustn’t forget that Coca-Cola and Pepsi don’t just sell soda; they are huge umbrella companies with quite a collection under their respective belts. According to recent data, Coca-Cola owns 51% of the soft drink market, whereas Pepsi only owns 22% of it. Coke claims to own a total of 35 different brands, including Fanta, Sprite, Powerade, Vitaminwater, and many others. Pepsi owns 22 different brands, including 7up, Gatorade, Mountain Dew, and Doritos. They even have a deal with Starbucks. At the end of the day, Coke has a total of 3,500 products under its belt, while Pepsi has an estimated 1,200.
Some of you might be wondering…with all those companies and all that money, which company employs more people? Coke employs a total of 130,600 people, and Pepsi employs a grand total of 274,000 people! That’s more than double! This makes sense because Pepsi has greater product variety and higher net revenue, which means they can afford to hire more people.
So there we have it. Coke and Pepsi are far more different than originally thought, but as we suspected, Coca-Cola is a much more popular and successful brand. Only time, however, will tell which of these two corporate giants will come out on top in the end.
So, which do you think is the better soft drink company? Let us know in the comments!