The Cola Wars of Peru

The brand Coca-Cola was EVERYWHERE around Cusco.  On billboards, on buildings, and on the trail!  See below for proof.

coke on the trail coke stand coke 1 coke and mcd's

But even though Coca-Cola is the world’s most favorite dark brown syrupy concoction (ingredients discussed in next week’s post), those Peruvians are in love with their yellow colas.  As I mentioned in an earlier post, I never did try Inca Kola, because it was said to have a bubble gum taste.  But, according to all of my research, it is a delicacy that is supposed to accentuate the flavors of Peruvian food, which is mainly based on a fusion of Asian and indigenous food (which I did eat alpaca and cuy – do not get me started on my cuy story).

And even though Coca-cola has the rights to Inca Kola around the world, they could only get a share of the Peruvian liquid gold by buying 50% of the company.

Inca Kola was created in the early 1930’s by a Peruvian who was trying to make a drink to celebrate the Peruvian culture and the 400th anniversary of the founding of Lima.  It stuck and became the largest cola share in the nation.  It even picked up more share once a couple of fast food chains (including McDonald’s) started serving it.  But they made a poor business decision in 1997 of restructuring and expanding and took on so much debt they had to literally sell half of themselves to Coca-Cola for $200 million to recuperate.

Other yellow cola brands have gotten into the wars when manufacturers successfully reverse engineered that special flavor of Inca Kola.  Now there’s Viva, Triple Kola, Isaac Cola, and Oro.  But I honestly had to look those up in my research for this post because I didn’t see any of those brands in stores or on ads.  But there were ads for Inca Kola EVERYWHERE.

For more info on Inca Kola and the Cola Wars of Peru, check out:

Universia Knowledge at Warton

The New York Times World

The New York Times Business Day

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