Six libations that have helped shape our world

Coca-Cola

In 1886 pharmacist John Stith Pemberton sold about nine Coca-Colas a day.

Today his soft drink is one of world's most valuable brandsósold in more countries than the United Nations has members.

It may be the second most widely understood phrase in the world after 'OK.

The drink has become a symbol of the United Statesólove it or hate it. East Germans quickly reached for Cokes when the Berlin Wall fell, while Thai Muslims poured it out into the streets to show disdain for the U.S. in the days leading up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

Coca-Cola encapsulates what happened in the 20th century: the rise of consumer capitalism and the emergence of America as a superpower. It's globalization in a bottle.

While Coke may not always produce a smile, a survey by the Economist magazine suggests that the soft drink's presence is a great indicator of happy citizens. When countries were polled for happiness, as defined by a United Nations index, high scores correlated with sales of Coca-Cola.

It's not because [Coke] makes people happy, but because [its] sales happen in the dynamic free-market economies that tend to produce happy people. 
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