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How The ‘Blood Feud’ Between Coke And Pepsi Escalated During The 1980s Cola Wars

The great Cola Wars of the 1980s were a battle between Coca-Cola and PepsiCo for dominance. The disastrous introduction of “New Coke” in 1985 appeared to set Coca-Cola back. Yet by the end of the year, it was clear the “mistake” had actually helped Coca-Cola’s sales, allowing Coke to retain its spot as the largest-selling soda over Pepsi.

The two companies were both well-established by the time the Cola Wars broke out. Coca-Cola dated back to 1886, when a pharmacist in Atlanta invented the drink and began selling it to soda fountains. Six years later, the Coca-Cola Company was founded by another Atlanta pharmacist who’d secured the recipe (which contained small amounts of cocaine until 1929). Up in North Carolina, another pharmacist invented his own sugar-drink in 1893. After seeing the success of Coca-Cola, he changed his soda’s name from “Brad’s Drink” to “Pepsi-Cola” in 1898 and founded the Pepsi-Cola Company in 1902.

Over the next several decades, Coke emerged as the more popular soda. Starting in 1931, its famous Santa Claus ads marketed it as a refreshing drink you could enjoy year round. Meanwhile, the Pepsi-Cola Company struggled financially and went through several reorganizations (in 1965, it merged with Frito-Lay, Inc. to become PepsiCo, Inc.). But in 1975, Pepsi started a marketing campaign that gave Coke a run for its money: the “Pepsi Challenge,” a blind taste test showing more people preferred Pepsi over Coke.

read more on history.com