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Coca-Cola and the Cold War: The French Face Americanization, 1948-1953

Richard F. Kuisel
French Historical Studies
Vol. 17, No. 1 (Spring, 1991), pp. 96-116
Published by: Duke University Press
DOI: 10.2307/286280
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/286280
Page Count: 21
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Coca-Cola and the Cold War: The French Face Americanization, 1948-1953
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Abstract

After the war the Coca-Cola Company launched an American-style marketing plan to sell its product in France and inadvertently entered Cold War politics. In 1950 the National Assembly adopted legislation aimed at banning the softdrink as a danger to public health; the government harassed the company; and the press evoked the dangers of cocacolonisation. A column in Le Monde likened the conflict over Coca-Cola to the Danzig of European culture. Resistance to the American softdrink came, as might have been expected, from the Communists and local beverage interests. But the controversy had wider resonance because it raised the charge that the Fourth Republic was subservient to the Americans and that French identity was in imminent danger from Americanization. Coca-Cola aggressively announced the arrival of consumer society, and resistance to it represented a small gesture of self-assertion at a time when France seemed helpless before the American "invasion."

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