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Publisher's Summary

Coke's insatiable thirst for resources shapes the company and reshapes the globe in this absorbing history.

Coca-Cola's success in building a global empire out of sugary water drew on more than a secret formula and brilliant advertising. The real secret to Coke's success was its strategy, from the beginning, to offload production costs and risks onto suppliers and franchisees. Outsourcing and a trim corporate profile enabled Coke to scale up production of a low-price beverage and realize huge profits.

But the costs shed by Coke have fallen on the public at large. Coke now uses an annual 79 billion gallons of water, an increasingly precious global resource, and its reliance on corn syrup has helped fuel our obesity crisis. Bartow J. Elmore explores Coke through its ingredients, showing how the company secured massive quantities of coca leaf, caffeine, sugar, and other inputs. Citizen Coke became a giant in a world of abundance; in a world of scarcity, it is a strain on resources and all who depend on them.

©2014, 2015 Bartow J. Elmore (P)2014 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

What listeners say about Citizen Coke

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Highly Recommend

This book is fascinating. If you want to understand large corporations and how they interact with government, the public, and world economies, you would find this an interesting read. I never imagined how far reaching the tentacles of such a corporation could be. Various factors that came together to make Coca-Cola the success it is today are explained. The author did much research to put this together. This book includes great background of world economies and government reactions through the past century. The narrator did a great job with the text. The chapters of the first half of the book are sorted by Coke's key ingredients and covers the company's history from 1886 through 1950. The chapters of the second half of the book are cataloged by the impacts of the corporation and covers the company's history from 1950 through today. I found the first half of the book more engaging than the second half, but it was all engrossing and I recommend this book.

5 people found this helpful

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Lopsided view.

This book contains a lot of interesting facts, is well read. However to blame Coke for an obesity crisis is stretching the line a bit thin. Anyone who has spent time outside the US will notice that everything we eat here from bread, pasta sauces donuts is way sweeter than in say Europe or Great Britain. There are few examples of Coke's bottlers not being ecologically helpful to a community, but given the size of the company not a significant problem. There are blasé statements such as cheap fast food is to blame for inner city obesity; fast food isn't cheap, people buy fast food because it's convenient or they are too lazy to cook. 2 big mac meals and 2 happy meals is over $20, that's not a cheap meal, $20 at a grocery store would go a long way. Lastly there is no real solution offered, Coke is a business it has to grow or fail.

2 people found this helpful

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Enjoyed this fascinating story on Coca Cola!

I especially like how this book divided its chapters based on the ingredients making up coca cola products. Overall very insightful!

2 people found this helpful

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This book is fascinating and important

If you enjoy educational texts and critics of capitalism, this book is for you! It's information dense but in a great way

1 person found this helpful

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Best "worst" book since 1984

Like reading a horror science fiction book about dystopian future but it's actually the reality. Plus, the narration was perfect!

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insightful

showing the underbelly of how money distorts what should be for the sake of profits .

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interesting history - negatively biased author

written by a climate Warrior who hates capitalism. if you can overcome this fact, the coke history is interesting.

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Whining of doubter in capitalism, well written

This is a well written and well researched complaining, long whine of somebody surprised how businesses can be successful. No solution offered, some socialist ideas voiced, all easily applicable to any corporation around the world.

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Good but flawed.

An intriguing history of one of the most recognized brands in the world. It clearly ties the availability of cheap sweeteners to the growing obesity problem and negative health outcomes associated with excess sugar intake. However, after explaining how government has assisted in the creation of this epidemic with farm subsidies that began under FDR, exclusive pricing deals between Coke and the US government during World War 2, among other government meddling, the author takes aim at proponents of limited government.

The conclusion does not follow the majority of the content that precedes it. Far from a critique of free markets, the book neatly illustrates the perils of overreaching government involvement in industry and its inevitable effect on the lives of average people.

Despite the bait-and-switch ending, this detailed chronical of Coke and it's competitors drive toward market dominance is a fascinating listen.

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An addicted Civil War veteran has hooked the world

The repercussions of the American Civil War is still haunt us. It all started with a man trying to control his morphine addiction, and now, we are all addicted to sugar and caffeine! Desperate to remain in business, Coca-Cola formed an alliance with the United States Government. Our troops carried Coca-Cola all over the world...

And, I know understand the idiom "Coca-Cola Cowboy"!

I love and adore Coca-Cola. It cleans rust from a battery, and it will strip wax, and, it will remove the worst industrial black grease from clothes and skin alike.

It is only recently I have been broken of my addiction, and I discovered what I no longer knew- the chemical brew tastes awful!

This book not only begins with one man's attempt to make a living, but it shows how Coca-Cola has influenced our current eating habits. Even our recycling has been affected. All carbonated beverages here in Michigan have a 10 cent deposit, and other states have cash refund policies, because Coca-Cola wanted to save money.

Read this. It's a wonderful, fascinating tale of history! The narrator is good, too.

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  • carrosvoss
  • 12-03-14

I'll never drink a Diet Coke again!

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

This book is definitely worth listening to/reading. It starts with a history of the invention (who would thought that the origins of Coke go back to France and Italy's?) and charters in general terms it's rise to power and domination on the market. Main part of the book follows the ingredients list on a Coke bottle and talks in turns about water, sugar, coke etc. It is an amazing and thrilling history of America seen through the the Cola's bottle (lame joke, I know). It touches many issues like the power of lobbying, agriculture, international affairs, competition, advertising, law and many more.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Citizen Coke?

I learned about:
the correlation between artificial sweeteners and midriff fat (I'm never having a Diet Coke again!!!);
Why we buy bottled water and we pay for it arm and leg;
Why there is no coke in the Coca Cola and why it doesn't matter;
That CC employs only seven thousand people around the world, everything else is outsourced and if it goes bust CC doesn't care and does not loose money;
CC actually makes only syrup. The rest is made by others.

What does William Hughes bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

Unless you need to reference it for academic purposes, listening to it is simply more enjoyable and, let's be honest, more energy efficient.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Yes. And I did with only breakes for food, work and sleep.

Any additional comments?

I will listen to it again. Wealth of knowledge if you want to argue the pros and cons of modern corporate culture and lobbying.

6 people found this helpful

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  • C. D. Turner
  • 12-24-21

A well reasoned and balanced arguments

A great history of Coca-Cola, and its business model along with the challenges that model brings, for the environment and public health.

Doesn't really offer a solution, but does clearly outline the challenges that need to be faced sooner rather than later, and demonstrates that government interventions can fuel those problems, so any government intervention should be carefully thought through.

1 person found this helpful

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  • TopRock
  • 09-29-21

Loved it - well worth a read

What a fantastic history of such an iconic product. Really well written and very informative. a great book and well worth a read.

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  • elvijs
  • 09-24-21

Great book.

True costs of fake capitalism.
Big money lobbying for "greater good".
It is just crazy upsetting how human beings can do this to them selfes.

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  • Rhys White
  • 09-09-21

Leaving Me In Need of A Coke

Citizen Coke crosses the line between an academic paper and a narrative, it's interesting but at times a little flat.

It is distinct to other books on Coke, it is more than an unauthorised history, it is more than a collection of interviews - it looks past the drink, past the well known suppliers to the economics that underpin the drink. There is a lot of references to government in here and not a lot or any obvious attempt to provide any balance to the views of the book and no 'insider views'

According to a 2015 NY Times Review Citizen Coke began life as an Academic Paper and it shows, the narrative is peppered with quotes and references to government investigations which slow the narrative down. I would agree with the article that 'Almost every time there’s an opportunity for narrative sizzle, the book falls victim to a rigid structure and repetitiveness that more careful editing would have eliminated'. All of which is a shame.

The narration doesn't help, it could be far worse, but did leave me wondering could I continue with this book.

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  • ListeningWorm
  • 08-27-21

Interesting story about coke

This book was a really interesting insight on how coke came to be and how it took over the world of beverage. Interesting how they managed to leverage the government to make their business grow.