Post by Audrey Carlsen, The Salt at NPR Food (1/26/13)
Coca-Cola is taking a lot of flak for its new television ad campaign addressing America's obesity epidemic – an epidemic in which sugary sodas are widely fingered as a key culprit.
Launched last week, the ads discuss the beverage giant's efforts to combat obesity, while also insisting that Coke products can be part of a healthy lifestyle. Those claims have been met with widespread skepticism and ridicule from public health advocates and the advertising world alike, with words like "shameless" and "chutzpah" bandied about. As one satirical parody video of one of the new ads put it bluntly: "Don't drink Coke – it's killing you, and your family."
All this debate over the truthiness of Coca-Cola's new anti-obesity message reminded us that, more than a century ago, the company actually branded itself a maker of "medicinal tonic." Let's go back in time for a moment, shall we?
This 1907 magazine ad states that Coke "relieves fatigue without undue stimulation [and] aids digestion. Its use after exercise is especially healthful."