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  • Gianna Porco

The Ultimate Debate: Coke vs. Pepsi

As we all know, our country is unfortunately divided. What’s the cause of this division, you ask? Part of it may stem from the debate over the vital matter of whether Coke or Pepsi is better. For the sake of political correctness, I will not be sharing my opinion. However, I think we can all agree that the chart from the Google Form sent out, shown later in this article, represents the “right” side of this conflict

Even though Coke and Pepsi seem similar, as carbonated, caffeinated, sugary beverages (best drunk cold, obviously), they do in fact have quite a few differences (and by few, I mean three). Pepsi is much sweeter than Coke and is also more caffeinated, which, at least in part, may be credited to the fact that Pepsi was invented after Coke, thereby receiving the latest, enhanced “cola drink characteristics.” The other difference is the flavor. Many have described coke to taste more ‘vanilla-y’ while Pepsi has been described as more citrus-tasting.

As mentioned, Coca-Cola came before Pepsi. Coca-Cola was invented by pharmacist, Dr. John S. Pemberton in 1886. Carbonated drinks had already been around since the 18th century after Dr. Joseph Priestly discovered carbonated water, and a Swedish chemist, Torben Bergman invented a device to carbonate water.

About a decade later, soft drinks (sugared and carbonated) were invented, which sparked an output of more soft drinks in the mid-to-late 1800s. Some infamous soft drinks include Dr. Pepper (1885), ginger ale (Schweppes in 1783), and of course, Coke and Pepsi. One soft drink company, The Jolt company (named after Jolt Cola), came up with the first “cola drink” (caffeinated and “soft”) in 1885, inspiring Dr. Pemberton to invent his cola drink, named Coca-Cola (which sounds plagiarized, if you ask me). “Cola” also comes from the word kola—kola is a nut often associated with caffeine. The “coca” part of Coca-Cola comes from the coca leaf.

Coca leaf extract was an ingredient in the original Coca-Cola, but no longer is, because the coca leaf contains cocaine, hence the nickname, “coke.” Coca-cola didn’t become known as “Coke” until the 1940s.

Because Coca-Cola came first, many feel that it is rightfully the better drink because Pepsi acted like a copycat. Pepsi was invented by another pharmacist in 1893 and is very similar to Coca-Cola. Not surprisingly, a competition soon ensued between the two beverages.

When asked, a majority of Edgemont students (by majority, I mean 36 out of a whopping 45 students) felt that Coke was the superior drink, even though only half of the responders said they liked carbonated drinks. People liked Coke better for being less sweet and syrupy, and surprisingly, many Edgemont students said they did not like carbonated soft drinks at all, because they are bad for your teeth and health. I find this shocking, because Edgemont students don’t worry about their health when they drink 1-2 Snapples a day, each of which has 34 grams of sugar per bottle.

Students also said that Coke tastes better and less “basic” than Pepsi. Coke also has more flavor options, and Diet Coke has recently become very popular, possibly influencing the opinions of Edgemont students. One student said that “Coke is more refreshing” and another said, “Coke feels more classy.” Because of Coca-Cola’s much longer (by less than ten years) history, it is obviously classier and has had more time to perfect its recipe and flavor, which may explain why respondents feel it is the superior beverage.

Although the Edgemont student body’s (all 45 of them) opinion does matter, I would not be doing the school justice if the Coke/Pepsi expert himself, Mr. Weitzman, was not featured in this article. When asked, Mr. Weitzman felt that, even though he likes both soft drinks, he prefers Pepsi over Coke, although it must be Diet Pepsi. He reasoned that Pepsi has more flavor, flatly contradicting the survey results.

However, Mr. Weitzman did state that both are excellent conversation starters and undoubtedly supply energy. Mr. Weitzman does agree with the health-conscious students at Edgemont, in that Coke and Pepsi “are not necessarily good for your health,” but that “with diabetes, it’s a treat!” Mr. Weitzman unfortunately “can’t have a brownie, but can have a Diet Coke” (or in his case, Diet Pepsi). He actually said that for his diabetic diet, he needs diet Pepsi to “function.”

When it comes down to it, neither Coke nor Pepsi is objectively better. It purely depends on your preference, so there is no reason to be divided over it. If only the rest of this country’s problems could be solved so easily, with a survey almost no one filled out and an article written by a sophomore high school student. But, unfortunately, that is not how the world works. All we can do now is drink Coke and/or Pepsi—but not too much because it is bad for your health—and enjoy it!


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