Jewish World Review July 31, 2002 / 22 Menachem-Av, 5762
Yearning for a nostalgic American product that was neither
I don't know if you remember Fanta- I thought it was right up there with
Spuds McKenzie, Nehi, Fudruckers and the Edsel, but according to Slate
Magazine, it's not only still around, there's a new push to promote it.
Fanta, of course, is a carbonated soft drink-orange being the best-known
flavor-that is huge globally, but not so popular here.
I didn't know this, but Fanta was created by GmbH, a Coca Cola affiliate in
Germany during World War II. Foreign-owned (not to mention American-owned)
companies found it hard to get materials and ingredients during the war, so
the affiliate made its own brand, from whatever materials were lying around.
The name Fanta was suggested by a salesman, for Fantasie. Fanta was bottled
all through the war, and afterwards was resurrected in Italy in 1955, after
things cooled down a bit, Nazi-wise.
New ads promoting Fanta feature Spice Girly girls who "offer a Fanta to
various young men in sweaty situations." I haven't seen the spots, but Slate
says they're fun in a kicky retro kind of way.
Remember when it was believed that Volkswagens had been invented by Hitler's
minions as a kind of Nazi dream car for small efficient families? Whether
that rumor is true or not, the perception did not stop hippies from snapping
the bugs up back in the sixties, because they were kind of cute-- not
something you associate with Nazis as a rule.
Fanta has less baggage than that, of course, the Coke has kind of downplayed
the "soft drink of choice for the Third Reich" angle in its promotion, saying
only on its web site that Fanta was "acquired by Coke in the forties."
Now the forties and the sixties are both long gone, long enough time has
passed for PR folks to fashion a past that nobody ever really had, to sell us
pretty much anything their fuzzy focus sets its heart on.
Given a choice, singing and dancing 60s or 70s-ish babes in matching
outfits are probably going to move a lot more soda than images of
shell-shocked Berliners sipping orange drinks as they wander aimlessly in
rubble, or goose-stepping storm troopers sipping soda in unison as they march
to their doom on the Russian front, or the Manson family chugging cold ones at
Spahn Ranch. But then that's the idiot genius of capitalism, isn't it?
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JWR contributor Ian Shoales is the author of, among others, Not Wet Yet: An Anthology of Commentary. Comment by clicking here.
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© 2001, Ian Shoales