Coca-Cola's Pity Party Means No Party At All

"Furieux" over a new soda tax in France, the company symbolically cancels a party

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What's a guy to do when enraged by something in France? Protest, of course. Coca-Cola is, unsurprisingly, not too happy about a new French tax on soda, The Wall Street Journal reports. The government there passed the soda tax as an austerity measure, hoping to funnel as much as €120 million to their health-insurance system. To send a message to the government, the company is scrapping plans to add a production line to one of its plants in the south. But to make it really sting, they are also cancelling the plant's 40th anniversary celebrations. That's right, no birthday fête for the French! Go America!

Actually, the move, "really, just seems a bit petty," says Chris Mercer at, a beverage industry trade publication. Still, he points out a "long history of antagonism" between the French and Coca-Cola, as when they briefly tried to ban it after World War II. Coke's feet-stomping behavior, though, could serve as a warning as the United States debates how to tackle its own over-consumption of sugary drinks. Earlier this month, the Center for Disease Control released a study revealing the extent of America's addiction to sugary soda. Half of Americans, in fact, drink soda or another sugary beverage daily, the study found, and the habit has been linked with obesity (with which America also has a problem, if you hadn't heard.) The usual suspects renewed their call for soda taxes, but in the weeks since the study, no groundswell of support for such a tax (or any tax really...) has surfaced. Maybe Americans just know better. Coca-Cola warned the French this week that "we are strongly opposed to any form of stigmatization of our products." And if Americans know anything, it's that we don't want to cancel any parties, especially ones where there'll be a lot of free Coca-Cola.

UPDATE: A Coca-Cola spokesman informs The Atlantic Wire that there was "confusion" and the company will continue with plans to invest €17 million into the French facility. Alas, the sober company is still "postponing the anniversary celebration to a later date that has yet to be determined."

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