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World War Two - August 26, 2016

Men of the 133rd Field Artillery Battalion enjoy Cokes on the front, March 17, 1944. (Records of the Office of the Chief Signal Officer, National Archives)

Q: As we all know, Dwight Eisenhower was the greatest president Kansas ever produced. Before serving in the White House, he was an army general in World War II. In an effort to boost morale, Eisenhower convinced an American company to ship an entire factory overseas to his troops fighting in the deserts of North Africa. What product did this company provide?

A: Coca-Cola
During World War II, America shipped an entire Coca-Cola bottling factory overseas so that our fighting soldiers could enjoy the Real Thing. We did this more than once, in both the European and Pacific theaters of war. It all began in 1943. That's when General Dwight Eisenhower (who grew up in Abilene!) decided he wanted to make the iconic American soda available to his soldiers as close to the battle front as possible. 
While commanding troops in North Africa, Ike sent a message to his boss, Army Chief of Staff George C. Marshall, requesting 3 million bottles of Coke. He also requested the equipment and supplies needed to wash, refill, bottle and cap six million more bottles worth of Coke each month. Ike's boss approved the request and the Coca-Cola Company was happy to help out. The company essentially put together an entire bottling facility and shipped it to Eisenhower's troops.  
This idea was soon repeated in other war zones. The soda was treated by the military as a wartime necessity. Once bottling plants were up and running overseas, the next issue became maintaining them. Coca-Cola helped with that too. The company sent its employees abroad to oversee the installation and management of the bottling plants. American G.I.s affectionately called these workers “Coca-Cola Colonels.” This wartime effort helped make Coca-Cola a global brand and international symbol of America.
Check out this blog post about Coca-Cola during World War II. 

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