Glass of Cola.jpg
A glass of cola served with ice cubes
TypeSoft drink
Country of origin United States
IntroducedMay 8, 1886; 136 years ago (1886-05-08),[1][2] as Coca-Cola
ColorCaramel (with certain exceptions such as Zevia Cola and Kola Román)
FlavorCola (Kola nut, citrus, cinnamon and vanilla)

Cola is a carbonated soft drink flavored with vanilla, cinnamon, citrus oils and other flavorings. Cola became popular worldwide after the American pharmacist John Stith Pemberton invented Coca-Cola, a trademarked brand, in 1886, which was imitated by other manufacturers. Most colas contain caffeine originally from the kola nut, leading to the drink's name, though other sources have since been used. The Pemberton cola drink also contained a coca plant extract.[1][3] His non-alcoholic recipe was inspired by the coca wine of pharmacist Angelo Mariani, created in 1863.[3][4]

Most modern colas have a dark caramel color, and are sweetened with sugar and/or high-fructose corn syrup. They come in numerous different brands, with Coca-Cola and Pepsi being among the most popular.[5] These two companies have been competing since the 1890s, a rivalry that has intensified since the 1980s.[6][7]


The primary modern flavorings in a cola drink are citrus oils (from orange, lime, and lemon peels), cinnamon, vanilla, and an acidic flavorant.[8][9] Manufacturers of cola drinks add trace flavorings to create distinctive tastes for each brand. Trace flavorings may include a wide variety of ingredients, such as spices like nutmeg or coriander. Acidity is often provided by phosphoric acid, sometimes accompanied by citric or other isolated acids. Coca-Cola's recipe is maintained as a corporate trade secret.

A variety of different sweeteners may be used in cola, often influenced by local agricultural policy. High-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is predominantly used in the United States and Canada due to the lower cost of government-subsidized corn. In Europe, however, HFCS is subject to production quotas designed to encourage the production of sugar; sugar is thus preferentially used to sweeten sodas.[10] In addition, stevia or an artificial sweetener may be used; "sugar-free" or "diet" colas typically contain artificial sweeteners only.

In Japan, there is a burgeoning craft cola industry, with small-scale local production methods and highly unique cola recipes using locally-sourced fruits, herbs and spices.[11]

Clear cola

In the 1940s, Coca-Cola produced White Coke at the request of Marshal of the Soviet Union Georgy Zhukov.[12][13]

Clear colas were again produced during the Clear Craze of the early 1990s. Brands included Crystal Pepsi, Tab Clear, and 7 Up Ice Cola. Crystal Pepsi has been repeatedly reintroduced in the 2010s.

In Denmark, a popular clear cola was made by the Cooperative FDB in 1976. It was especially known for being the "Hippie Cola" because of the focus of the harmful effects the color additive could have on children and the boycott of multinational brands. It was inspired by a campaign on harmful additives in Denmark by the Environmental-Organisation NOAH, an independent Danish division of Friends of the Earth. This was followed up with a variety of sodas without artificial coloring.[14] Today many organic colas are available in Denmark, but, for nostalgic reasons, clear cola has still maintained its popularity to a certain degree.[15]

In June 2018, Coca-Cola introduced Coca-Cola Clear in Japan.[16][17][18]

Health effects

Further information: Criticism of Coca-Cola § Health effects

A 2007 study found that consumption of colas, both those with natural sweetening and those with artificial sweetening, was associated with increased risk of chronic kidney disease. The phosphoric acid used in colas was thought to be a possible cause.[19]

One 2005 study indicated soda and sweetened drinks are the main source of calories in the American diet and that of those who drink more sweetened drinks, obesity rates were higher.[20] Most nutritionists advise that Coca-Cola and other soft drinks can be harmful if consumed excessively, particularly to young children whose soft drink consumption competes with, rather than complements, a balanced diet. Studies have shown that regular soft drink users have a lower intake of calcium, magnesium, vitamin C, riboflavin, and vitamin A.[21]

The drink has also aroused criticism for its use of caffeine, which can cause physical dependence (caffeine dependence),[22] and can reduce sleep quality.[23] A link has been shown between long-term regular cola intake and osteoporosis in older women (but not men).[24] This was thought to be due to the presence of phosphoric acid, and the risk for women was found to be greater for sugared and caffeinated colas than diet and decaffeinated variants, with a higher intake of cola correlating with lower bone density.

Many soft drinks in North America are sweetened mostly or entirely with high-fructose corn syrup, rather than sugar. Some nutritionists caution against consumption of corn syrup because it may aggravate obesity and type-2 diabetes more than cane sugar.[25]

Regional brands

See also: Category:Cola brands



Bottles of Berry Cola, a soft drink produced in Indre, France
Bottles of Berry Cola, a soft drink produced in Indre, France

North America

A small glass bottle of Coca-Cola, the first cola
A small glass bottle of Coca-Cola, the first cola

South America


Defunct brands

See also


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  2. ^ "History of Coca-Cola · InterExchange". Archived from the original on March 27, 2019. Retrieved March 16, 2019.
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  4. ^ 최재원 (April 2015). "코카콜라의 스토리텔링을 통한 감성마케팅 응용". 마케팅 (in Korean). 49 (4): 19–28. Retrieved 2021-04-04.
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  22. ^ Center for Science in the Public Interest (1997). "Label Caffeine Content of Foods, Scientists Tell FDA." Retrieved June 10, 2005. Archived July 24, 2014, at the Wayback Machine
  23. ^ O’Callaghan, Frances; Muurlink, Olav; Reid, Natasha (2018-12-07). "Effects of caffeine on sleep quality and daytime functioning". Risk Management and Healthcare Policy. 11: 263–271. doi:10.2147/RMHP.S156404. ISSN 1179-1594. PMC 6292246. PMID 30573997.
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