Long before the United States put its first space vehicle into orbit, foreign cartoonists, from Argentina to the Transvaal, had assumed that the American satellite would be built along the familiar lines of a Coca-Cola bottle. In their eyes, as in the eyes of many people abroad, Coca-Cola is a fluid that, like gasoline, is indispensable to, and symbolic of, the American way of life. The two liquids, indeed, are often thought of as compatible, even though gasoline is one of the few solutions around that have not yet been mixed with Coke. (Gas in a Coke bottle, however, makes a first-rate Molotov cocktail.) An English cartoonist has depicted a United States Air Force plane being fuelled in flight by a pair of aerial tankers, one furnishing gas to the engines, the other Coca-Cola to the crew. A German variation on the theme shows a filling station with two pumps offering similar nourishment—the hose of one attached to an American car, that of the other to its driver’s mouth. (More transactions at service stations in the United States involve Coca-Cola than motor oil.) On its own, without gas, Coke is so widely regarded as a symbol of America that an Italian cartoonist once portrayed Uncle Sam himself as a top-hatted, star-spangled bottle of it. Among the other exponents of the theory that Coca-Cola is uniquely representative of the United States are the officials of the Coca-Cola Company, one of whom is known to have described the drink, which is ninety-nine per cent sugar and water, as "the most American thing in America."
The acceptability of Coca-Cola in any region is apt to depend on the region’s political orientation toward the United States. For the last ten years or so, our foreign critics have taken to identifying the policies of our State Department with those of the Coca-Cola Company, and have conjured up a new type of imperialism, which they call Coca-Colonization, or Coca-Colonialism. Hitler drank Coke, but while Germany was at war with the United States, the official Nazi line was that the beverage was a menace to European civilization. In due course, this became the official Communist line, while West Germany became practically a Coca-Cola Reich. Currently, it is lapping the stuff up at the rate of over a billion bottles a year, to the joy of the hundred and eleven West German bottling plants that turn it out. In the Lebanese revolt last spring, two of the first buildings in Beirut to be assaulted by the rebels were the library of the United States Information Agency and the Coca-Cola bottling plant. The latter, to be sure, is thought to have come under fire more or less accidentally, but the flow of what the late William Allen White once called "the sublimated essence of all that America stands for" was temporarily dammed—though not long enough to prevent our Marines from being refuelled with Coca-Cola when they landed a few weeks later. While the Coca-Cola Company naturally deplores violence, and especially violence that impairs anybody’s chance of buying a Coke, its executives do not object to the tendency to confuse their product with the nation that spawned it. "Apparently some of our friends overseas have difficulty distinguishing between the United States and Coca-Cola," a vice-president of the company recently observed in a memo to an associate, considerately listing fatherland ahead of firm. "Perhaps we should not complain too much about this."
Around the globe, Coca-Cola is consumed, as its advertisements have lately been trumpeting, about sixty million times a day. On the desks of some of the executives at the company’s offices in Atlanta, Georgia, where Coke originated, are three-minute glasses imprinted with the reminder that every time the sand runs through, another hundred and twenty thousand drinks of the beverage have been polished off—perhaps by, among others, an Okinawan geisha, a Siamese prince, and a pygmy girl in Africa. Coca-Cola has been gulped by Florence Chadwick while she was swimming the Strait of Gibraltar, and by Sir Edmund Hillary while he was mushing toward the South Pole. (An American naval airman named Edward G. Vrable claims to be the first man to drink a Coke at, or over, the North Pole—an achievement he scored during a weather flight, at 0716, Greenwich Mean Time, on March 29, 1947. The Nautilus was the first vehicle to carry Coke beneath the North Pole.) A parched wine connoisseur who recently made a pilgrimage to St. Catherine’s Monastery, at the foot of Mount Sinai, hoping for a taste of a rare cordial called moustique that the monks there have been making since the sixth century, was served Coke instead. Once Italian prisoners interned in South Carolina during the war had been introduced to the drink, they refused to do their chores until they were promised a daily ration of it. Some shipwrecked sailors who were rescued off Cuba a few years ago, after clinging to the rigging of a capsized vessel for three and a half days, attributed their survival to the happy circumstance that a case of Coke was wedged in the rigging, too. A dramatic high spot in the plot of a play in the Loretta Young television series last winter—not sponsored by Coke—occurred when a native houseboy employed by an American couple in Korea turned his back on a full bottle of Coca-Cola. This denoted severe emotional distress. In another scene, as the mistress of the household threw her arms about her husband, she was clutching a bottle of Coke. This denoted passion.
Even the Coca-Cola Company regards as out of the ordinary—though it is rather fond of the old girl—a wrinkled Indian woman in a remote Mexican province who told an inquiring explorer in 1954 that she had never heard of the United States but had heard of Coke. (There are fifty-one plants in Mexico that bottle it.) Two years after that, a Coca-Cola man pushed a hundred and fifty miles into the jungles outside Lima, Peru, in search of a really primitive Indian to whom, for publicity purposes, he could introduce Coca-Cola. Deep in the bush, he flushed a likely-looking woman, and, through an interpreter, explained his errand, whereupon the woman reached into a sack she was carrying, plucked forth a bottle of Coke, and offered him a swig.
There can be exceedingly few North Americans who are unacquainted with Coca-Cola, which a Swedish sociologist has said bears the same nourishing relationship to the body of Homo americanus that television does to his soul. One such ignoramus came to light ten years ago, when the Army quizzed six hundred and fifty recruits stationed at Fort Knox, Kentucky. Two hundred and twenty-nine of them had never heard of Louisville, twenty miles away; eighty-five had never been to the dentist; and twenty-one had never tasted cow’s milk. A single soldier had never drunk a Coke. All in all it was a set of findings far more encouraging to the Coca-Cola Company than to the Department of Defense.
In contrast to that innocent rookie, some of his fellow-citizens drink Coca-Cola at a staggering clip. "You can drink Coke every day all day long and you don’t get tired of it," a member of the company’s indefatigable market-research staff has said. "Fifteen minutes after you’ve finished a Coke, you’re a new customer again, and that’s where we’ve got you." One of the most faithful customers on record is an Alabama woman who on her ninety-seventh birthday attributed her durability to her habit of consuming a Coca-Cola at exactly ten o’clock every morning since the stuff first came on the market, in 1886. Possibly the outstanding Coke drinker of all time is a used-car salesman in Memphis who revealed in 1954, when he was sixty-five, that for fifty years he had been averaging twenty-five bottles daily, and that on some days he had hit fifty. He added, inevitably, that he had attended the funerals of half a dozen doctors who had called his pace killing. Morton Downey, who for the last sixteen years has been using his voice exclusively to sing the praises of Coca-Cola at conventions, luncheons, and the like, heard about the Memphis prodigy in the course of a trip to Tennessee, and looked him up. "He stood six three and weighed two twenty and was a fine specimen of a man," Downey subsequently reported.
Downey, whose own thirst for Coca-Cola has been acclaimed in a company house organ as unquenchable, is not only a caroller for Coke but one of nearly eleven hundred domestic bottlers of the drink. Coca-Cola in bottles is on sale at a million six hundred thousand retail outlets in the United States, and a hundred and thirty thousand soda fountains have it on tap. The Coca-Cola Company itself owns only forty-two of the bottling plants, and the income from them is no more than a tithe of its gross sales, which in 1957 came to nearly three hundred million dollars. The bulk of this take was derived from the sale of Coca-Cola syrup—or a more potent concoction known as concentrate—to other bottling plants and to soda-fountain jobbers. Peddling syrup is the company’s driving, dedicated raison d’être, regardless of who controls Lebanon, the Transvaal, or, for that matter, the United States. There is only one ounce of syrup in a six-and-a-half-ounce bottle of Coke. Nonetheless, in 1958 the company sold around two hundred million gallons of the stuff. That’s enough for twenty-five billion portions of Coca-Cola.
Two-thirds of this ocean of Coke is swallowed in the United States. (In a novel published last year, it was predicted that after the earth is levelled by nuclear warfare, archeologists may find no trace of civilization in the Western Hemisphere other than a fused blanket of metal made up of the discarded caps from Coke bottles.) Since the war, however, Coca-Cola has become increasingly conspicuous in the whole free world’s way of life. The drink is now bottled in a hundred and seven foreign regions, including the Isle of Man and Mozambique, and in many areas abroad it enjoys a social standing markedly higher than any it has ever attained at home, as if it were a Foreign Service career man who, after hanging around Washington obscurely for years, is suddenly appointed ambassador to a small nation and gets invited to all its best parties. Coca-Cola is served at wedding receptions in Saudi Arabia, at garden parties in India and Italy, and, cheek by jowl with champagne, at formal dinners in Venezuela. The four daughters of the Queen of the Netherlands have been seen at royal picnics with four bottles of Coke, and the wife of the French Ambasador to Great Britain had special pockets fitted into the stole she wore to Queen Elizabeth’s coronation, and tucked a bottle of Coke in each, to see her through the ceremony. In happier days, the late King Feisal of Iraq drank Coke à deux with his cousin King Hussein of Jordan. When Farouk reigned in Egypt, all the Cairo night clubs reserved a table for him every evening, just in case he should turn up. Alongside every regal oasis was a silver ice bucket cradling a supply of Coca-Cola.
The Coca-Cola people have tried to make a social splash at home. A year ago, for example, they ran an ad showing some members of the horsy set, in full hunt-meet panoply, daintily sipping Coca-Cola. The text was peppered with high-class words like "discriminating," "chic," and "superb," and the conventional slangy phrase "Have a Coke!" was supplanted by "Have a Coca-Cola!" But nobody in Newport or Bar Harbor has responded with enthusiasm comparable to that of, say, Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia, who until this year, when a bottling plant opened up in Addis Ababa, used to dispatch the imperial plane regularly to Cairo for the sole purpose of fetching Coke for his palace. In South Africa and in Mexico, a young man may drink anything that comes to hand during the week, but when he takes his best girl out on a Saturday night, he treats her to a Coca-Cola. There is plenty of evidence that to Coca-Cola men the course of true love runs smoothest when it runs delicious and refreshing. In the company’s advertisements, which try manfully to equate the beverage with "the heart-thumping happiness of boy getting acquainted with girl," it is made explicit that boy who first gets Coke to girl gets girl, too.
No more fervent tributes have ever been paid to Coca-Cola than those that came from Allied service men who either got the opportunity to drink it or missed it unbearably during the Second World War are Take what General Carlos Romulo said in his memoirs, "I Saw the Fall of the Philippines." Describing the events of April 4, 1942, four days before he escaped from Bataan on the last plane out, he wrote:
This day that was to mark the turning point in the Battle of the Philippines began for me with an incident that seemed of the greatest importance. In fact, so vital did it seem at the time that that night, upon my return to the tunnel on Corregidor after one of the most terrible days a man could ever experience, I wrote a detailed account of that day on my typewriter with a ribbon that could hardly make itself legible, and with trembling hands I added the important notation: "I had a Coca-Cola."
The Coke he had was one of eleven salt-incrusted bottles that some American soldiers had salvaged from a sunken supply ship. In "Winged Victory," Moss Hart had a gang of fliers about to take off for combat toast each other in Coca-Cola. One of them said, "Listen, brother, where we’re all going we’ll look back on a Coke as something out of Heaven." The Coca-Cola Company’s vaults in Atlanta bulge with letters from service men attesting to the accuracy of this prediction. A young lady who lived in the Bronx passed along an excerpt from a love letter that her one and only, an Army corporal, had written in Europe: "Well, I guess you want to know now what it is I want so much, outside of you. Well, darling, it is a bottle of Coca-Cola." A private first class in Burma wrote his aunt, "To my mind, I am in this damn mess as much to help keep the custom of drinking Cokes as I am to help preserve the million other benefits our country blesses its citizens with. . . . May we all toast victory soon with a Coke—if flavored with a little rum, I am sure no one will object." The Japanese radio tortured our Marines in the Southwest Pacific by dwelling interminably on the forsaken pleasure of drinking a Coke. ("Can’t you just hear the ice tinkling in the glasses?") It was fiendish.
The Coca-Cola Company itself boasted in wartime advertisements that "next to wives, sweethearts, and letters from home, among the things our fighting men overseas mention most [in their letters] is Coca-Cola." The fact that the company seemed eager to have wives and sweethearts furnish it with fighting men’s letters mentioning the drink may have made a few of the citations it received something less than spontaneous, but there can be little doubt that the bulk of them were heartfelt. Without prodding, a naval lieutenant in the Pacific called Coca-Cola "nectar of the Gods." A soldier in Egypt rated it better than nectar, and an airman in the Solomons, whose vocabulary was large but imprecise, likened it to ambrosia. An Australian soldier thought it ripping. A sailor in the Mediterranean asked his sweetheart to scent her next letter with a drop of Coke and, after she had complied, wrote that it smelled to him "like heady wine, more powerful than Chanel No. 5, more tempting than the odor from a thousand roses."
Even today, Coca-Cola receives an occasional missive about its role in the war. A recent one included an account of an air crash that the writer had witnessed in the South Pacific. The only identifiable objects found in the wreckage, he wrote, in graphic detail, were the pilot’s left hand and liver, and two blood-spattered but unbroken bottles of Coke. "Please write and tell me what you think of my story," he concluded. The Coca-Cola Company answers all its mail conscientiously, but in this instance it evaded a direct response, saying only, "We can readily see how this experience has made an indelible impression upon your mind." Another former G.I., who had been a German prisoner for more than a year, reported to the company a decade later that the mere image of Coke had given him the will to live. Half starved while on a six-week forced march, he’d been about to throw in his chips. Then, as he staggered through a German town, a peeling advertising poster caught his eye. "I looked at the sign a couple of minutes as we passed by, and memories started coming back to me, of home, of the drugstore where my girl friend (later my wife) and I used to sit and plan our lives together," he wrote. "Well, sir, I kept thinking of that Coke sign and what it stood for, of home, of the darling wife and child that were waiting for me, of all the good times and wonderful things that were ahead of me, if only I could get out of this mess alive. Right then and there I said to myself ‘I will get out alive!’ and a new feeling of hope and strength seemed to come over me. As I sit here with my darling wife and child, I often think back to that little Coke sign in Germany and say thanks, thanks a lot for helping to get me home." The Coca-Cola Company, touched, sent him a leather billfold.
When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, they shot up four Coca-Cola coolers at Hickam Field. Coca-Cola quickly struck back. The company was run then, as it is now—although he is officially retired—by Robert Winship Woodruff, an urbane, astute, enormously wealthy Georgian, who had resolved as early as the nineteen-twenties that there was no place on earth too remote, geographically or culturally, to enjoy the benefits of Coca-Cola. Scarcely had the United States declared war when Woodruff announced his determination to make Coke available, at a nickel a drink, to every member of our armed forces, no matter where he might be. Woodruff’s gesture was not only patriotic but practical. The Coca-Cola Company is the largest single user of pure granulated sugar on earth, and when sugar rationing went into effect, the company got nowhere near the amount it wanted for the ordinary production of syrup. (It tried hard, though. Early in 1942, it issued a propagandistic booklet, "Importance of the Rest-Pause in Maximum War Effort," which reproduced a batch of letters from civilian war workers hinting that they could hardly survive without Coke.) Even under rationing, however, the company was able to acquire virtually unlimited supplies of sugar for Coke for the armed forces.
The armed forces, for their part, were quick to enlist under the banner of Coca-Cola. Theatre commanders were authorized to order bottling plants, much as they ordered ammunition. The upshot of this agreeable collaboration—agreeable to everybody except the company’s anguished competitors—was that ninety-five per cent of the soft drinks dispensed through overseas post exchanges during the war were drinks of Coca-Cola. ("What do they think this war is—the cause that refreshes?" grumbled a testy columnist in PM, a paper that subsequently folded.) Between Pearl Harbor and V-J Day, G.I.s gulped ten billion drinks of Coca-Cola, three billion of them bottled overseas, in five plants already established and fifty-nine additional plants that the company had resourcefully assembled. General Eisenhower, whose affection for Coca-Cola matches that of any alien head of state, had barely landed in North Africa when he requested eight plants. A plant needed in China was dismantled in India, flown piece by piece across the Himalayas, and put together again. When the Australian government, which had a less feverish view of the importance of Coke-drinking, told a bottler out there that he couldn’t have all the cork he wanted for lining bottle caps, he notified the American Army tersely, "No cork, no Coke." He got his cork. At war’s end, six dismantled bottling plants were bobbing gently off the coast of Japan, waiting to follow our troops ashore.
To supervise this mass migration of nectar, a hundred and sixty-three Coca-Cola men donned uniforms and shuttled back and forth across the world as technical observers—or, as they were more commonly known to the service men they ministered to, Coca-Cola colonels. (One enisled technical observer risked getting busted to Coca-Cola corporal by writing, in a communiqué to the home office, "Boy, what I wouldn’t give for a good drink of Stateside Scotch!") Technical observers attached to General MacArthur’s staff rigged up a portable Coke dispenser for use in jungle areas, and observers attached to the Navy devised a slender vending machine that could be lowered through the hatches of submarines. (It was perfected too late to be installed before hostilities ceased, but it is now standard equipment.) Coca-Cola resembled certain other forms of matériel in that some theatres of operations got more of it than others, and got it more quickly. For instance, the reputation of the Society Islands as a paradise was splendidly maintained; after the war native divers at Borabora recovered thirty thousand empty Coke bottles that had been tossed into a single placid lagoon there. In less serene regions, the scarcity of Coca-Cola was sometimes so acute that upon receiving a trickling shipment a military unit would have the chaplain dole it out, in the hope of avoiding mayhem. Individuals in arid areas who were lucky enough to latch on to a bottle—occasionally one would be shipped from home in a cotton-wrapped gift package—guarded it ferociously. A Navy lieutenant off Sicily opened his ship’s safe, and, with pistol drawn, permitted an ensign to touch a bottle of Coke that nestled inside. Then the lieutenant locked the safe again. A soldier in Holland drank half a bottle his wife sent him and let a dozen of his buddies shoot craps for the other half. The first bottle to reach the Anzio beachhead was shared by nineteen admirably disciplined G.I.s.
In the Solomons, a single bottle of Coca-Cola was sold for five dollars; in Casablanca, for ten; in an Alaskan outpost, for forty. A field-artillery sergeant in Italy who got two bottles in 1944 drank one and raffled off the other among the men in his battalion, the proceeds going to swell a fund for children of members of the unit who died in action. Four thousand dollars was collected from soldiers vying for the bottle, and the man who won it was too overcome with emotion to drink it. Ernie Pyle, writing of this unusual fund-raising drive, said that the participants in the raffle hoped that the Coca-Cola Company would also contribute to the kitty. "I have no doubt they will," Pyle added. The company immediately sent two thousand dollars to the artillerymen, but in so discreet and roundabout a fashion—out of a natural desire not to be deluged with similar appeals from every battalion under arms—that many of its top officials do not know of the generous gesture to this day.
Soon after the war ended, the American Legion polled five thousand veterans on their preferences in the matter of soft drinks, and found that nearly two-thirds of them favored Coca-Cola. A complementary survey made by the Coca-Cola Company revealed that among veterans with overseas service the percentage was even higher. "What we did during the war cost us a lot of dough," one company vice-president has since said, "but it sure made these guys love us." And when the fighting stopped, not only did Coca-Cola have millions of young Americans much in its debt but it also had the sixty-four overseas bottling plants—fifty-nine of them ferried abroad, as the company’s competitors have ruefully pointed out, at government expense—ready to be converted to production for civilians.
In the postwar years, as Coca-Cola strove mightily to consolidate its territorial gains, its efforts were received with mixed feelings. When limited production for civilians got under way in the Philippines, armed guards had to be assigned to the trucks carting Coke from bottlers to dealers, to frustrate thirsty outlaws bent on hijacking it. In the Fiji Islands, on the other hand, Coca-Cola itself was outlawed, at the instigation of soft-drink purveyors whose business had been ruined by the Coke imported for the solace of G.I.s during the war. Most of the opposition to the beverage’s tidal sweep, however, was centered in Europe, being provoked by the beer and wine interests, or by anti-American political interests, or by a powerful blend of oenology and ideology. Today, brewers in England, Spain, and Sweden are themselves bottling Coke, on the if-you-can’t-lick-’em-join-’em principle. Several years ago, though, the odds against such cozy intimacy would have been roughly the same as those against the White Rock girl’s being crowned Miss Rheingold. In Western Europe, Coca-Cola has had to fight a whole series of battles, varying according to the terrain, not all of which have yet been won, though victory seems to be in sight. Before Coca-Cola got rolling in West Germany, for instance, it had to go to court to halt the nagging operations of something called the Coördination Office for German Beverages, which was churning out defamatory pamphlets with titles like "Coca-Cola, Karl Marx, and the Imbecility of the Masses" and the more succinct "Coca-Cola? No!" In Denmark, lobbyists for the brewers chivied the Parliament into taxing cola-containing beverages so heavily that it would have been economically absurd to try to market Coke there. (The Danish beer industry has singular leverage. The Tuborg company is noted for its philanthropies, and the Carlsberg company is a wholly nonprofit outfit, all its proceeds going into a foundation for the advancement of the arts and sciences.) At last word, the Danes were about to relent, though. But in Belgium the caps on bottles of Coke, including bottles sold at the Brussels Fair, have had to carry, in letters bigger than those used for "Coca-Cola," the forbidding legend "Contient de la caféine."
Some of the political larruping that Coca-Cola endured in Europe was aimed from the Right (a neo-Fascist paper in Italy told its readers that it had sampled the drink, as a service to them, and had found it "halfway between the sweetish taste of coconut and the taste of a damp rag for cleaning floors") and some from the Left (a Milan paper reported, "Only a few people succeed, when first drinking Coca-Cola, in getting rid of that unpleasant impression of sucking the leg of a recently massaged athlete"), but it was the Communists who far outdid everybody else in the frenzied wildness of their antagonism to a soft drink that Woodruff has called "the essence of capitalism." The Belgian Communists, for instance, intimated that Coca-Cola was a forerunner of Fascism. The drink was a laxative, they claimed, and they suggested that if it was allowed to flourish unhindered it would probably be superseded by an even more potent laxative—castor oil. And this, they concluded solemnly, was a notorious Fascist beverage. (The fact that the Fascists did not drink castor oil themselves but forced it upon their victims was not stressed.) The Austrian Communists, for their part, put forward the notion that a new Coca-Cola plant at Lambach could be transformed at a moment’s notice into an atomic-bomb plant. "Tremble!" thundered Der Abend, then the principal Communist paper in Vienna. "Coca-Cola is on the march!" The main Communist paper in Italy, L’Unità, warned parents that Coke could turn their children’s hair white overnight. Moreover, said L’Unità, a thirty-year-old male had drunk one bottle and dropped dead. (The non-Communist press said he had had a heart attack.) The Soviet writer Alexander Fadeev, addressing an Italian audience, asked, rhetorically, "Is the Soviet Union flooding this country, renowned for its refreshing drinks, with Coca-Cola?" He spoke in Russian, and the only word most of his auditors grasped was "Coca-Cola." On hearing it, they burst into applause. Not long afterward, the Italian Communists disclosed that the Russians had invented Coca-Cola.
Coca-Cola had been in Italy in a modest way since 1927, but it was only in 1949, when the drink’s impact on the country seemed likely to change from dew to downpour, that the Communists and their cohorts, the latter including many vintners, counterattacked on a broad front. One Left Wing journal invited its readers to guess which of three dosages could kill a mother-in-law more quickly—a few drops of belladonna, a bit of Strophanthus, or half a bottle of Coke. Warnings against a new disease, "Coca-Colitis," were briskly circulated, and a whole glossary of compound neologisms evolved, among them "Coca-Colazione" (defined as "the last meal of the condemned") and "Coca-Colonia" ("a cologne useful for disinfecting quarters where there have been cases of Coca-Cholera"). In Rome, a Left Wing paper printed the results of what purported to be a survey of Coca-Cola imbibers in that city. A typical example was an unnamed businessman who said he regarded drinking Coke as his patriotic duty. "You see, Americans are sending us dollars," he said, "and besides, I have relatives in the United States who write me, ‘Drink Coca-Cola! Otherwise it will be too bad!’ "
In view of the steadfast anti-Catholicism of the Italian Communists, it was only natural that they should have detected a wicked rapport between Coca-Cola and the Vatican. The evidence was skimpy. True enough, a truckload of Coke had been spotted in St. Peter’s Square in the summer of 1950, but, as defenders of the faith quickly pointed out, it was Holy Year, and the city abounded with American pilgrims. It was also true that Coca-Cola plants the world over have been blessed by clerical eminences when they open for business—in Aguascalientes, Mexico, by the Bishop of Teziutlán; in Tacna, Peru, by the Archbishop of Lima; in Naples by Cardinal Ascalesi. But there was an answer to that one, too—the Roman Catholics enjoy no theological monopoly on such ceremonies. At the opening of a Bangkok plant in 1949, for instance, the inauguration rites were conducted by nine Buddhist priests, who went through the premises dabbing gold paint on the bottle-washing machines and on the bottlers’ foreheads. What riled the Coca-Cola Company most of all was some antipapist sniping at James A. Farley, the chairman of the board of the Coca-Cola Export Corporation, a wholly owned subsidiary. Farley has worked for Coca-Cola since the 1940 Democratic National Convention, when he split with President Roosevelt over the third-term issue and resigned as Postmaster General. Farley, of course, is an influential lay Catholic, and this circumstance has been no end of help to the company in its attempts to iron out delicate situations in Catholic countries. The Communists, however, have charged Farley with making Roman Catholicism subservient to Coca-Colaism. A typical fabrication had it that in 1946, when Cardinal Spellman received his red hat from Pope Pius XII, he flew to Rome in a Coca-Cola Company plane. This was probably inspired by the fact that Farley did accompany Spellman to Rome for the ceremony; they travelled, though, by commercial aircraft. While it is true, moreover, that Farley once took four Coca-Cola men along with him for a private audience with Pope Pius, he never, despite a good deal of wishful Left Wing thinking and asserting to the contrary, urged His Holiness either to substitute Coke for sacramental wine or to substitute "Drink Coca-Cola" for "Dominus vobiscum." And the Italian Communists, unflaggingly inventive in their invective, did not stop there; they forecast the eventual substitution of "Coke" for "Amen." All this has availed them very little. The largest Coca-Cola bottling plant in Europe today, with a capacity of three hundred bottles a minute, is one that was unveiled by Farley last year in Milan.