Most Googled: Did Hitler drink Fanta?
Every year, millions, perhaps even billions, of people turn to Google in the hopes of finding a quick answer to their most burning questions about Germany. Here at IamExpat, we have collected a few of your most Googled questions and over the coming weeks and months will attempt to answer them, covering the banal, the bizarre, and everything in between.
If you're anything like us, your reaction this week's question was one of utter bewilderment. Why on earth would so many people want to know if Hitler drank Fanta, rather than, say, tea, orange juice or Jägermeister? Well, it turns out the reason for this connection actually stems from the origins of Fanta. And it's quite an interesting story.
Before the war
It all starts with Coca-Cola, which first started being bottled for German consumption in 1929 by Ray Rivington Powers. Powers was an expat from America and, using questionable business tactics, grew the brand in Germany to a veritable powerhouse. By 1933, Coca-Cola sales had risen from 6.000 to 100.000 cases every year. Due to the success of the business, Coca-Cola GmbH, as it was known in Germany, was given a trademark and a licence to manufacture and sell Coca-Cola in Germany.
In 1933, Max Keith joined the firm and steadied the company’s business structure, practices and accounts. From then until the beginning of the war, Keith helped transform Coca-Cola from a growing business into a booming international corporation. By the beginning of the war, sales were up from 100.000 cases a year in 1933, to 4 million cases a year in 1939.
In the lead up to the war, a propaganda campaign in Germany was set up to try to stop Germany’s labour force from drinking beer, instead of promoting the value of fizzy drinks and their suitability for the working man. From then on, Coca-Cola’s popularity in Germany skyrocketed.
Magazines regularly featured Coca-Cola advertising. At the Reichsausstellung Schaffendes Volk in Düsseldorf, an exhibition that celebrated the achievements of the German worker under the Nazi regime, a miniature Coca-Cola train and bottling plant was featured. The drink was even one of the official sponsors of the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin.
Due to its importance to the German economy and close ties with Nazi ideology and propaganda, an image which had been meticulously crafted by Max Keith, Coca-Cola enjoyed huge popularity in Germany, with the company even boasting that it was Volksgetränk: the drink of the German people. Hermann Göring was snapped enjoying the fizzy beverage and it was reported that even Hitler himself enjoyed a glass in his private cinema.
The origin of Fanta
What has all this got to do with Fanta, you ask? Well, Fanta was originally developed in Nazi Germany, during the Second World War. After it joined the war against the Axis powers, the US placed a trade embargo on Nazi Germany, so Coca-Cola Deutschland was cut off from the supply of the syrup that was one of the fizzy drink's primary ingredients.
Germany’s remaining syrup supplies were primarily reserved for wounded soldiers in hospitals, so, in order to keep the German Coke plant in operation, Max Keith, the head of Coca-Cola GmbH, developed a new drink in 1942 from apple pomace, beet sugar and whey, which he later described as the “leftovers of leftovers.”
The origin of the name “Fanta” has been shrouded by the mists of history and is still widely disputed today. One story is that Keith, while in a business meeting with his salesmen, asked his team to use their imagination or Fantasie in German. The name was apparently conceived when a salesman, Joe Knipp, responded: “Fanta!” Alternatively, the name is also reported to have originated from the success of developing a drink that was simply fantastich or fantastic.
So, did Hitler drink Fanta?
Due to the popularity of fizzy drinks, particularly Coca-Cola, in Germany before the war, Keith was under huge pressure to create an alternative to Coca-Cola. When Fanta was created and sold to the public it quickly exploded into a household name. In the year 1943, over 3 million cases of Fanta were sold. While some were undoubtedly drunk, they were also bought to add sweetness and flavour to soups and stews, as a replacement for sugar which was rationed during the war.
In Nazi propaganda, Fanta was hailed as a product of Hitler's regime, a patriotic alternative to the American Coca-Cola brand.
So, back to the question of whether Hitler drank Fanta. After some extensive research, we were unable to find concrete evidence either way as to whether Hitler himself every enjoyed a glass of the fizzy orange beverage. Although, one can make an educated guess; Hitler was known to enjoy Coca-Cola so there is every chance he would have reached for a Fanta every time he fancied a cool, sparkling drink, especially one that was the German-created alternative.
As a proponent of ideological propaganda, it would make sense for Hitler to support the nationalist sentiment behind Fanta. Fanta was also used to sweeten dishes as an alternative to sugar so it is probable that Hitler would have tasted the drink in his Sauerbraten at some point.
Your burning questions: answered
So, what do you think? Do you think Hitler himself drank Fanta? Or merely used it as a propaganda tool to promote German business and innovation during the Second World War? Let us know in the comments below!
Stay tuned for next time, when we tackle another one of the internet's “most Googled” questions about Germany.