MONEY Warren Buffett

The One Thing Warren Buffett is Wrong About

Warren Buffett, CEO of Berkshire Hathaway
CNBC—NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images Warren Buffett, CEO of Berkshire Hathaway

Buffett's personal bias seems to be interfering with his judgment in food stocks.

Warren Buffett cannonballed through the food industry once again this past week, orchestrating a merger of Heinz and Kraft Foods KRAFT FOODS GROUP INC. KRFT 1.28% to create the world’s third-largest food company.

Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway conglomerate and partner 3G Capital, a Brazilian investment firm, will pay a special dividend to Kraft shareholders worth $10 billion, and Kraft shareholders will own 49% of the new company while Heinz, which was acquired by Buffett and 3G Capital in 2013, will hold 51%.

This is far from Buffett’s first foray into the food business, but the deal seems questionable at a time when more Americans are shunning the packaged processed foods that Kraft is known for such as Velveeta and Lunchables, and its sales have been flat in recent years. Still, Kraft is a typical Buffett target with its portfolio of well-known brands and easy-to-understand business model. Berkshire is also a major holder of Coca-Cola COCA-COLA COMPANY KO 0.15% , and owns Dairy Queen, after acquiring it in 1997.

Buffett is a big personal fan of these brands, and readily admits that he eats “like a six-year old.” He has said he’s a regular consumer of Heinz ketchup, and Dairy Queen. He drinks at least five Cokes a day, regularly munches on Potato Stix, and told Fortune he had a bowl of chocolate chip ice cream for breakfast the day of the interview. Perhaps the octogenarian’s tastes may be clouding his judgement when it comes to his investments in the food world.

Coca-Cola COCA-COLA COMPANY KO 0.15% , for example, was one of the best performing stocks of the 20th century, but as soda consumption has fallen in the last decade, the stock has languished in recent years. Over the last five years, it’s returned 44%, against the S&P 500’s 74%, while in the last two years Coke is down 1%, compared to a 32% gain for the broad-market index. As long as people are turning away from soda, Coke’s prospects look poor.

In 1997, Buffett bought Dairy Queen for $585 million. At the time, it had 6,200 restaurants under its banner. Nearly 20 years later in 2014, it has only grown to about 6,500. As a minor subsidiary, Berkshire doesn’t break down Dairy Queen’s financial performance, but its average sales per store was just $659,000 in 2013, below most major fast-food competitors. Growth in individual stores has also significantly trailed the industry. In that time, McDonald’s, for example, has grown from about 23,000 restaurants worldwide to over 35,000. Fast casual chains have boomed as Chipotle Mexican Grill went from a handful of stores in 1997 to a valuation north of $20 billion today. Buffett may have gotten a good price for Dairy Queen, but the business is past its prime.

Heinz has only been under Buffett’s auspices for less than two years, but sales have been falling recently.

Like the recent Duracell deal, Kraft is yet another low-growth company with a strong brand. 3G has shown a knack with such businesses before, applying its playbook of cost-cutting and international expansion to ramp up profits. It worked with Anheuser Busch-InBev, and Heinz managed to grow profits last year. The group is now trying to pull the same trick with Restaurant Brands International, the result of the merger of Burger King and Tim Horton’s.

That may be the saving grace in the deal for Kraft, but the $10 billion dividend still seems like a generous gift for a company with flat sales that was valued at $35 billion before the deal was announced. If 3G can wring more profits out of Kraft, then perhaps the deal will pay off, but the business itself — with its products losing shelf space to organic competitors — looks weak. For a master of the deal like Buffett, the merger may pay off, but a Heinz-Kraft stock looks unappetizing for the average investor.

MONEY Warren Buffett

3 Warren Buffett Habits We Should All Adopt

Warren Buffett, chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway
Lacy O'Toole—CNBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty I Warren Buffett, chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway

Warren Buffett has grown from a boy who at 7 years old roamed the streets of Omaha selling bottles of Coca-Cola for a nickel to a man who now sits atop the Berkshire Hathaway empire he created, with over $525 billion in assets.

Are you curious to know what habits enabled him to get there? Well, there are three we all can, and should, adopt.

Never stop learning

In the 50th annual letter to Berkshire Hathaway shareholders, Charlie Munger, the longtime second-in-command at Berkshire, spoke about one of Buffett’s most enduring and important traits that led to his success:

Buffett’s decision to limit his activities to a few kinds and to maximize his attention to them, and to keep doing so for 50 years, was a lollapalooza. Buffett succeeded for the same reason Roger Federer became good at tennis.

Buffett was, in effect, using the winning method of the famous basketball coach, John Wooden, who won most regularly after he had learned to assign virtually all playing time to his seven best players. … And Buffett much out-Woodened Wooden, because in his case the exercise of skill was concentrated in one person, not seven, and his skill improved and improved as he got older and older during 50 years.

In other words, Buffett figured out what he was good at and stuck with it through thick and thin, always honing his skill.

In the book Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell suggests that for anyone to truly become an expert at something, there is some element of inherent skill involved, but there is also a key component of practice. And the key is dedicating at least 10,000 hours of time to become a true expert. Gladwell asserts: “[P]ractice isn’t the thing you do once you’re good. It’s the thing you do that makes you good.”

He cites examples such as Bill Gates, who sneaked out of his parents’ house at night while he was in high school to learn computer coding, or the Beatles, who played eight hours a day in various bars across Hamburg, Germany, before they really mastered their craft.

And the same is true of Buffett, as he himself once remarked:

I insist on a lot of time being spent, almost every day, to just sit and think. That is very uncommon in American business. I read and think. So I do more reading and thinking, and make less impulse decisions, than most people in business. I do it because I like this kind of life.

In the same way, in his hit song “I Know I Can,” rapper Nas said:

Boys and girls, listen up / You can be anything in the world, in God we trust / An architect, doctor, maybe an actress / But nothing comes easy, it takes much practice

So no matter where life takes you or what you do, always remember — whether you learn from Buffett, the Beatles, Bill Gates, or Nas — while we’ll never be perfect, persistent practice will always help take us one step closer.

Patience is key

The world around us is moving at a speed that is truly hard to grasp. As The Wall Street Journal reported, “[I]t took 75 years for telephones to achieve 50 million users, while Angry Birds reached that goal in a mere 35 days.”

Another of Buffett’s distinct and admirable characteristics is his patience.

In 2003, he noted:

We bought some Wells Fargo shares last year. Otherwise, among our six largest holdings, we last changed our position in Coca-Cola in 1994, American Express in 1998, Gillette in 1989, Washington Post in 1973, and Moody’s in 2000. Brokers don’t love us.

But consider for a moment his remarks in the 2010 letter to shareholders, in which he said that for Berkshire to succeed:

We will need both good performance from our current businesses and more major acquisitions. We’re prepared. Our elephant gun has been reloaded, and my trigger finger is itchy.

It’s widely thought that means Buffett intends to purchase a single business worth tens of billions of dollars. While his trigger finger was itchy in 2010, and Berkshire’s cash pile now stands at over $60 billion, Buffett has distinctly been willing to sit on the sidelines until the right opportunity presented itself.

There is obvious value in moving quickly into something if it’s a no-brainer decision and time is of the essence, but otherwise, we would all do well to take a step back and exhibit a little more patience.

And that could be patience in buying batteries at the grocery store, or, like Buffett, the company that makes those batteries.

Give credit where it’s due

One of the final things to note about Buffett is his eagerness to commend the team of managers who surround him.

Consider his 2009 remark about Ajit Jain, who heads Berkshire Hathaway Reinsurance and is widely speculated to be a candidate to replace Buffett atop Berkshire:

If Charlie, I, and Ajit are ever in a sinking boat — and you can only save one of us — swim to Ajit.

Or his remarks about Todd Combs and Ted Weschler — who each manage a sizable stock portfolio at Berkshire Hathaway — in the 2013 letter:

In a year in which most equity managers found it impossible to outperform the S&P 500, both Todd Combs and Ted Weschler handily did so. Each now runs a portfolio exceeding $7 billion. They’ve earned it. I must again confess that their investments outperformed mine. (Charlie says I should add “by a lot.”) If such humiliating comparisons continue, I’ll have no choice but to cease talking about them. Todd and Ted have also created significant value for you in several matters unrelated to their portfolio activities. Their contributions are just beginning: Both men have Berkshire blood in their veins.

Or consider his praise for Tony Nicely in 2005:

Credit Geico — and its brilliant CEO, Tony Nicely — for our stellar insurance results in a disaster-ridden year. … Last year, Geico gained market share, earned commendable profits, and strengthened its brand. If you have a new son or grandson in 2006, name him Tony.

And the list could go on and on.

Here’s a man worth more than $70 billion, who understands that the works of others were just as important to his success as his own. So no matter where we are, we should always take the time to thank the people who helped us get there.

While we’ll always only be ourselves, adopting these three habits will help us no matter where our path takes us.

TIME Food & Drink

Coke’s PR Strategy Is to Market Soda as a Healthy Snack

An American Icon at 100 exhibition at the High Museum of Art on February 26, 2015 in Atlanta, Georgia.
Paras Griffin—2015 Getty Images An American Icon at 100 exhibition at the High Museum of Art on February 26, 2015 in Atlanta, Georgia.

Coke works with nutrition experts who suggest its cola as a healthy treat

(NEW YORK) — If a column in honor of heart health suggests a can of Coke as a snack, you might want to read the fine print.

The world’s biggest beverage maker is working with fitness and nutrition experts who suggest its cola as a healthy treat. In February, for instance, several wrote online pieces for American Heart Month, with each including a mini-can of Coke or small soda as a snack idea.

The mentions — which appeared on nutrition blogs and other sites including those of major newspapers — show the many ways food companies work behind the scenes to cast their products in a positive light, often with the help of third parties who are seen as trusted authorities.

Ben Sheidler, a Coca-Cola spokesman, compared the February posts to product placement deals a company might have with TV shows.

“We have a network of dietitians we work with,” said Sheidler, who declined to say how much the company pays experts. “Every big brand works with bloggers or has paid talent.”

Other companies including Kellogg and General Mills have used strategies like providing continuing education classes for dietitians, funding studies that burnish the nutritional images of their products and offering newsletters for health experts. PepsiCo Inc. has also worked with dietitians who suggest its Frito-Lay and Tostito chips in local TV segments on healthy eating. Others use nutrition experts in sponsored content; the American Pistachio Growers has quoted a dietitian for the New England Patriots in a piece on healthy snacks and recipes and Nestle has quoted its own executive in a post about infant nutrition.

For Coca-Cola Co., the public relations strategy with health experts in February focused on the theme of “Heart Health & Black History Month.” The effort yielded a radio segment and multiple online pieces.

One post refers to a “refreshing beverage option such as a mini can of Coca-Cola.” Another suggests “portion-controlled versions of your favorites, like Coca-Cola mini cans, packs of almonds or pre-portioned desserts for a meal.”

The focus on the smaller cans isn’t surprising. Sugary drinks have come under fire for fueling obesity rates and related ills, and the last time Coke’s annual U.S. soda volume rose was in 2002, according to the industry tracker Beverage Digest. More recently, the company is pushing its mini-cans as a guilt-free way to enjoy cola. The cans also fetch higher prices on a per ounce basis, so even if people are drinking less soda, Coke says it can grow sales.

In a statement, Coca-Cola said it wants to “help people make decisions that are right for them” and that like others in the industry, it works with health experts “to help bring context to the latest facts and science around our products and ingredients.” It said any communications by the experts it works with contain the appropriate disclosures.

Most of the pieces suggesting mini-Cokes say in the bios that the author is a “consultant” for food companies, including Coca-Cola. Some add that the ideas expressed are their own. One column is marked at the bottom as a “sponsored article,” which is an ad designed to look like a regular story. It ran on more than 1,000 sites, including those of major news outlets around the country. The other posts were not marked as sponsored content, but follow a similar format.

Kelly McBride, who teaches media ethics at The Poynter Institute, said the phrasing of the disclosure that the author is a “consultant” for food companies, including Coca-Cola, doesn’t make it clear the author was specifically paid by Coke for the column.

“This is an example of opaque sponsored content,” McBride said.

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, a professional group for dietitians, says in its code of ethics that practitioners promote and endorse products “only in a manner that is not false and misleading.” A spokesman for the academy did not respond when asked if the posts on mini-Cokes meet those guidelines.

Meanwhile, a group called Dietitians for Professional Integrity has called for sharper lines to be drawn between dietitians and companies. Andy Bellatti, one of its founders, said companies court dietitians because they help validate corporate messages.

The message that Coke can be a healthy snack is debatable. Alice Lichtenstein, a professor of nutrition science and policy at Tufts University and a member of the nutrition committee at the American Heart Association, said a smaller can of soda might be a “move in the right direction” for someone who regularly drinks soda. Still, she wouldn’t recommend soda as a snack.

The health experts who wrote the pieces mentioning Coke stand by their recommendations.

Robyn Flipse, the dietitian who wrote the sponsored article for Coke, said she would suggest mini-cans of Coke even if she wasn’t being paid. Although she doesn’t drink soda herself, she said the smaller cans are a way for people who like soda to enjoy it sensibly.

“I absolutely think that I provided valuable information,” she said.

Flipse said the idea to mention mini-cans of Coke in the post was hers and came about after a public relations agency for Coke suggested a piece on heart health and asked what she might “work in.”

Flipse has worked with Coca-Cola and the American Beverage Association for years; her roles have included sending out messages on social media refuting the idea that sugary drinks are to blame for obesity and making herself available as an expert for news outlets. If a story says something negative about artificial sweeteners, Flipse said she might contact the PR agency and ask, “Do you want me to do something about that?”

Sylvia Melendez-Klinger, a dietitian who wrote another piece mentioning mini- cans of soda, said it’s important that health professionals share their expertise with companies and that her work reflects her own views.

She said she could not recall if she was paid for her article mentioning mini-sodas.

Read next: San Francisco Lawmakers Take on Big Soda Again

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

TIME Companies

The Fascinating History of the Coca-Cola Bottle

Manufacture Of Coke Light Soft Drinks At The Coca-Cola Hellenic Plant In Cyprus
Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images Empty glass bottles of Coca-Cola Light, also known as diet Coke, travel along a conveyor belt ahead of filling at the Lanitis Bros Ltd. bottling plant, part of the Coca-Cola Hellenic Group, in Nicosia, Cyprus, on Tuesday, June 10, 2014.

The anniversary comes at a difficult time for the soda maker

Coca-Cola is making a lot of the 100th anniversary of its iconic bottle. Given what’s happening with soda sales generally, and Coke sales in particular, the festivities come at a delicate time.

The celebration of the bottle includes an ad campaign in more than 100 countries featuring Elvis Presley, Marilyn Monroe, and Ray Charles, and an exhibit at the High Museum of Art in Atlanta called “The Coca-Cola Bottle: An American Icon at 100.” The exhibit will include “more than 100 objects, including more than 15 works of art by Andy Warhol and more than 40 photographs inspired by or featuring the bottle,” the company said in a statement.

Warhol, of course, was pilloried for his seeming embrace of consumerism though works like the Campbell Soup Cans and Coke Bottles, though of course it wasn’t that simple. The result was that the counterculture had infiltrated consumer culture, and vice versa. Warhol, who saw consumer products as having a leveling effect, said this about Coke:

What’s great about this country is that America started the tradition where the richest consumers buy essentially the same things as the poorest. You can be watching TV and see Coca-Cola, and you know that the President drinks Coke, Liz Taylor drinks Coke, and just think, you can drink Coke, too. A Coke is a Coke and no amount of money can get you a better Coke than the one the bum on the corner is drinking. All the Cokes are the same and all the Cokes are good. Liz Taylor knows it, the President knows it, the bum knows it, and you know it.

The original bottle was designed by the Root Glass Company in Indiana, nearly 30 years after the product was launched in 1886. Root won a contest where participants were challenged to “develop a container recognizable even if broken on the ground or touched in the dark.” Root’s design allowed consumers to recognize the product “even if they felt it in the dark,” according to Coke.

The celebration comes during a rough period for Coke. It has implemented a massive cost-cutting campaign. Its quarterly profits were down by 55%, it reported earlier this month. Meanwhile, sales of sugary soft drinks in general are plunging, having dropped by more than 20% between 2004 and 2014. In an effort to capitalize on consumers’ move away from sugar and toward protein, Coke has introduced Fairlife milk products. The bottles are pretty cool, but one can wonder if anybody will be celebrating them 100 years from now.

MONEY Warren Buffett

Warren Buffett’s Secret to Staying Young: 5 Cokes a Day

150226_INV_WarrenBuffettCoke
Daniel Acker—Bloomberg via Getty Images Warren Buffett, chief executive officer of Berkshire Hathaway, drinks a Cherry Coca-Cola.

The world’s most successful investor stays youthful by eating "like a 6-year-old." Turns out, the Berkshire Hathaway CEO’s bizarre diet is highly strategic.

How does the world’s top investor, at 84 years old, wake up every day and face the world with boundless energy?

“I’m one quarter Coca-Cola,” Warren Buffett says.

When he told me this in a phone call yesterday (we were talking about the death of his friend, former Coca-Cola president Don Keough), I assumed he was talking about his stock portfolio.

No, Buffett explained, “If I eat 2700 calories a day, a quarter of that is Coca-Cola. I drink at least five 12-ounce servings. I do it everyday.”

Perhaps only a man who owns $16 billion in Coca-Cola KO 0.71% stock—9% of Coke, through his company, Berkshire Hathaway BRK.A -0.23% —would maintain such an odd daily diet. One 12-ounce can of Coke contains 140 calories. Typically, Buffett says, “I have three Cokes during the day and two at night.”

When he’s at his desk at Berkshire Hathaway headquarters in Omaha, he drinks regular Coke; at home, he treats himself to Cherry Coke.

“I’ll have one at breakfast,” he explains, noting that he loves to drink Coke with potato sticks. What brand of potato sticks? “I have a can right here,” he says. “U-T-Z” Utz is a Hanover, Pennsylvania-based snack maker. Buffett says that he’s talked to Utz management about potentially buying the company.

Investors in Berkshire Hathaway may feel relieved that the CEO isn’t addicted to Utz Potato Stix at every breakfast. “This morning, I had a bowl of chocolate chip ice cream,” Buffett says.

Asked to explain the high-sugar, high-salt diet that has somehow enabled him to remain seemingly healthy, Buffett replies: “I checked the actuarial tables, and the lowest death rate is among six-year-olds. So I decided to eat like a six-year-old.” The octogenarian adds, “It’s the safest course I can take.”

This article originally appeared on Fortune.com.

MONEY Tech

The Real Threat to Twitter’s Bottom Line

Twitter headquarters in San Francisco, California.
David Paul Morris—Bloomberg via Getty Images

Twitter will lose users and advertisers if it doesn't start addressing abuse, harassment and trolls.

If you have a Twitter TWITTER INC. TWTR 1.64% account, you probably know the inherent value of the microblogging service. As far as social media sites go, there’s quite possibly no better distribution outlet for news — essentially Twitter sets the national conversation and zeitgeist.Facebook has tried to copy Twitter’s value proposition with its trending feature, but still trails in this regard.

That said, Twitter has a rather big problem it needs to address: abuse and harassment. Even CEO Dick Costolo acknowledges the issue; in a leaked memo to staff, Costolo wrote that “[W]e suck at dealing with abuse and trolls on the platform and we’ve sucked at it for years.” For a small snippet of Twitter’s not-so-great hits, consider the following:

  • After the suicide of her father, comedian Robin Williams, Zelda Williams briefly deleted her Twitter account from her devices after suffering sustained harassment and abusive comments.
  • After posting videos critical of gaming culture’s treatment of women, Anita Sarkeesian received death threats. That is not unheard-of with Twitter, but the threats were so specific they included her home address.
  • After poor reporting by Rolling Stone and a shifting victim’s story regarding an alleged rape at the University of Virginia, user Charles Johnson proudly leaked to Twitter a picture and previously undisclosed full name of the alleged victim.

Just peruse the retweets and quoted tweets of news organizations and you’ll probably feel a sense of displeasure over the angry discourse that’s gripped Twitter — even worse if the tweet mentions President Barack Obama, House Speaker John Boehner, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, or Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. And while a certain level of anger is to be expected on the Internet, hate-filled, sexist, and racist comments are normal in Twitter feeds.

For many users, Twitter’s value proposition is overshadowed by the coarse and angry dialogue that is commonplace on the site. That’s a serious problem for marketers and, eventually, Twitter investors.

Coke’s “Make it Happy” campaign should scare Twitter investors

Twitter investors might think this isn’t a big issue. As an ad-based model all you care about is growing users, timeline views, and monetization metrics. And on a revenue (up 97% year over year) and adjusted earnings (up 500%) basis, Twitter just reported a fantastic quarter. That said, the failure of Coca-Cola’s “Make it Happy” campaign should give investors a reason to pause.

For those not following the story, Coca-Cola rolled out an ambitious campaign that used television and social media to connect to consumers. Ironically, the campaign centered on making the Internet a happier place. Coke put lots of advertising dollars to work by buying a Super Bowl ad. The Twitter component consisted of users tweeting negative comments to #MakeItHappy, and Coke would turn the words into cute ASCII images via automated response.

Unfortunately, Godwin’s Law was achieved for brand marketing. Coke was duped into tweeting passages from Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf initially and soon gossip site Gawker got in on the action by providing more passages for conversion. While #MeinCoke trended just briefly, you can expect Coca-Cola is now looking at Twitter’s value proposition differently. Coke should have known better, as there is a long history of Twitter marketing campaigns and accounts going horribly awry — Google Chipotle hacked + Nazi for an even worse example.

Even scarier for advertisers, nobody seems intent on fixing the problem

The worst part for advertisers and brands is that, outside of Twitter’s lip service and modest reforms, nobody seems to care about fixing the problem. Even news organizations, the supposed pinnacle of restraint and balance, seem to err on the side of salaciousness in their Twitter feeds. Twitter is quickly becoming known as a rage curator, career/brand destroyer, and gaffe producer rather than as a viable marketing platform. In the end, there’s only so long companies will pay to advertise to an unruly mob.

Costolo commented in his memo that “We lose core user after core user by not addressing simple trolling issues that they face every day.” At some point the CEO might have to say the same about advertisers, his true customers.

TIME Brands

Coca-Cola Is About to Start Selling a New Protein-Packed Milk

In this Friday, Jan. 23, 2015 photo, Fairlife milk products are on display in an Indianapolis grocery store.
Michael Conroy—AP In this Friday, Jan. 23, 2015 photo, Fairlife milk products are on display in an Indianapolis grocery store.

It's lactose-free and packed with 50% more protein than regular milk

Coca-Cola announced plans Tuesday to distribute a premium protein-packed milk under Minute Maid’s Fairlife brand across the U.S. next month.

The lactose-free milk will contain half the sugar of regular milk, 50% additional protein and 30% greater calcium, reports USA Today. Customers will be able to choose among whole milk, fat-free, chocolate and reduced-fat options with prices ranging from $3.98 to $4.20.

“I hope it’s Coke’s next billion-dollar brand,” said Fairlife CEO Steve Jones.

Coca-Cola’s decision to increase the milk’s protein content corresponds with an increased demand for protein among consumers. Data shows 71% of shoppers seek more protein in their diet, according to findings from market-research firm NPD Group.

Coca-Cola is hoping its premium milk will help boost sales, as fresh or pasteurized milk retail volume sales declined by 3% last year. Sales of carbonated beverages are also falling.

[USA Today]

TIME photography

See Photos of Vintage Coca-Cola Signs from New York City to Bangkok

On January 31, 1893, Coca-Cola became a registered trademark, launching what would come to be one of the most recognized brands in the world

In 1891, Asa Candler bought a company for $2,300. That price tag in today’s dollars is closer to $60,000, but still, not a bad deal for a business that would gross a profit of more than $30 billion in 2014. During the early years, Candler focused his efforts on building his brand, offering coupons for free samples and distributing tchotchkes with the company’s logo on them. The aggressive marketing paid off. By 1895, a glass of Coca-Cola could be found in every state in America.

By the time Henry Luce purchased LIFE Magazine in 1936, Coca-Cola was just years away from producing its billionth gallon of its trademark soda syrup. The pages of LIFE bubble with Coke ads, the first one appearing in 1937, and many issues included multiple invitations to “add zest to the hour” and take “the pause that refreshes.”

But LIFE was not only a purchaser of Coca-Cola advertising. LIFE’s photographers were also capturing the growing ubiquity of that Spencerian Script—the looping, cursive font of Coke’s logo—in places as far-reaching as Bangkok and the Autobahn. During the 1930s, the company had begun to set up bottling plants in other countries. But when General Eisenhower sent an urgent cable from North Africa in 1943, requesting that Coca-Cola establish more overseas bottling plants in order to boost soldiers’ morale, the wheels were set in motion for rapid international expansion. Wartime saw the addition of 64 foreign plants to the existing 44, and post-war growth continued steadily.

The photos here depict not just the way Coke began to blend into international surroundings—by the late 1960s, half of the company’s profits would come from foreign outposts—but also the wide array of American locales and subcultures the brand was penetrating. Led by company president Robert Woodruff, whose term began in 1923, Coca-Cola’s vigorous marketing efforts found footholds for the brand from segregated country stores to New York City’s Columbus Circle to roadside stands in Puerto Rico.

Of the dozens of slogans Coca-Cola has had over the years, the one it debuted in 1945 was certainly aligned with the global domination the company had set its sights on. “Passport to refreshment” was not just a clever pun, but a sign of things to come.

Liz Ronk, who edited this gallery, is the Photo Editor for LIFE.com. Follow her on Twitter at @LizabethRonk.

MONEY Food & Drink

How Coke Convinced Us to Pay More … for Less Soda

A 7.5-ounce can of Coca-cola, right, is posed next to a 12-ounce can for comparison.
Matt Rourke—AP A 7.5-ounce can of Coca-Cola, right, is posed next to its big brother, the traditional 12-ouncer.

Talk about a brilliant sales concept!

Soda sales may be in a slump, but one sliver of the soft drink market—the segment that comes in smaller than usual sizes, including those adorably tiny 7.5-ounce cans—is booming. What’s especially curious about the trend is that sales have been taking off even though the smaller packages offer far worse value to consumers.

This week, the Associated Press explored this odd scenario, in which consumers are clamoring to buy Coke, Pepsi, and other sodas in unconventionally smaller sized packaging, notably the 7.5-ounce mini can that’s generally sold in eight-packs in stores.

Previously, the Wall Street Journal reported that sales of smaller Coca-Cola packages—including the mini cans, as well as 8-ounce glass bottles and 1.25-liter plastic bottles—were up 9% through the first 10 months of 2014. During the same time period, sales of regular old 12-ounce cans and 2-liter bottles were as flat as a bottle of week-old Coke.

Beyond their nontraditional size, what all of the smaller soda items have in common is that they’re “premium-priced packages.” Yes, the value proposition in the trendy category is that you not only get less product, but you get to pay more for the privilege. Coca-Cola estimates that consumers typically pay 31¢ for each traditional 12-ounce Coke purchased in a 12- or 24-pack at the supermarket. By contrast, the average price per 7.5-ounce mini can breaks down to 40¢ a pop.

And remember, you’re getting a lot less soda in the smaller cans. Tally up all of the soda in one of these eight-packs and it comes to 60 ounces, which is slightly less than the contents of one Double Gulp before 7-Eleven downsized it from 64 ounces to a mere 50. On a per-ounce basis, consumers are effectively paying double for the smaller packages: 5.3¢ per ounce for Coke in mini cans, versus 2.6¢ per ounce for the same beverage in 12-ounce cans.

What explains consumers’ willingness to pay more for less soda? One explanation is that the mini cans are simply “freaking adorable,” as one source put it when speaking to the AP. She’s not the only one to think so. Last year, a marketing campaign deposited adorable mini kiosks—complete with adorable waist-high Coke vending machines selling adorable mini Cokes—in five German cities. Here’s a look:

The result of this experiment, in addition to enough adorableness to make your head explode, was sales that were anything but small. Ogilvy & Mather Berlin, the firm behind the campaign, said that the kiosks averaged 380 cans sold daily, 278% higher than your typical Coke machine.

Mini sodas aren’t selling like crazy just because they’re cute, however. As we’ve pointed out before, consumers are attracted to small sodas—and beer—because they come with fewer calories than the regular sizes. The great (or sad) irony is that research shows that consumers tend to buy (and drink) far more sugary drinks when they’re purchased in smaller packages. Therefore, whatever health benefits may have been gained via the small size is likely outweighed by the fact that you’re consuming as many or more ounces of soda overall.

In other words, as nonsensical as it seems, it may be healthier for you to buy soda in larger sizes. It’s certainly better for your wallet.

Read next: The Soda Industry’s Promises Mean Nothing

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

TIME movies

Geena Davis Launches Film Festival to Boost Female Filmmakers, With Help From Natalie Portman and Shailene Woodley

National Women's History Museum's 3rd Annual Women Making History Event
Gregg DeGuire—WireImage Actress Geena Davis arrives at the National Women's History Museum's 3rd Annual Women Making History event at Skirball Cultural Center on Aug. 23, 2014 in Los Angeles.

Award winners will get guaranteed theatrical release

Geena Davis is starting the Bentonville Film Festival, a festival designed to promote women and minority filmmakers that will be the only competition in the world to guarantee theatrical distribution for the winners.

The BFF is being co-hosted by WalMart, AMC, Coca-Cola, and ARC Entertainment, and the advisory board contains big names like Natalie Portman, Julianne Moore, Angela Bassett, Samuel L. Jackson, and Shailene Woodley. The festival will screen about 75 films in competition, and the films that win the Audience, Jury Selection and Best Family Film Awards will get a distribution agreement with a guaranteed theatrical release in at least 25 AMC theaters.

“I have been an advocate for women for most of my adult life,” Geena Davis said in a statement. “The Bentonville Film Festival is a critical component of how we can directly impact the quantity and quality of females and minorities on screen and behind-the scenes.”

Submissions will be accepted starting Jan 15, and the selected films will be announced in March.

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