The Coca-Cola Christmas Cult (CCC)


Let me treat you to a preview of the sort of conversation that will be permeating workplaces, schools and social networks in the upcoming weeks:

Person 1: “Oh my god, did you see the Coca-Cola advert last night?”

Person 2: “Yes! It’s now Christmas!”

Person 1: “Yes, I know!! Because of the Coca-Cola advert last night”.

Whenever I interject in such a conversation to ask why Coca-Cola holds such significant yuletide meaning for these cult members, I’m invariably received by a frozen glare that betrays a software malfunction. You see, long ago I committed myself to the solipsistic notion that I’m the only person in Great Britain (possibly the world) who hasn’t been body swapped with a marketing robot from Coke HQ. Or maybe it’s some sort of cultish indoctrination.

As an aside (coleslaw probably), I also have similar suspicions regarding the universal reverence for ‘food’ outlet ‘Nando’s’.

A conversation I’ve had:

Nando’s Zealot: “I can’t wait for a cheeky Nando’s tonight”

Me: “What’s Nando’s?”

NZ: “You DON’T KNOW what NANDO’s is?”

M: “No, is it good?”

NZ: “Yeah, it’s AMAZING. I love a cheeky Nando’s”

M: “What is it?”

NZ: “It’s a restaurant”

M: “What food do they do?”

NZ: “Chicken”

M:“…..Just chicken?”

NZ: “Yeah, fried, or in a wrap, or in sauce…”

M: “Oh, I’ve had fried and spicy chicken before”

NZ: “But Nando’s is amazing mate!”

M: “Why? Is the service good?”

NZ: “Well…you have to head up to the counter to order your food yourself…”

M: “Oh right.’s cheap then?”

NZ: “Not really…”

M: “Sorry….why is it great again?”

NZ: “Well, it’s Nando’s innit?”

Back in the days when I still ate animals, I surrendered to the Nando’s hype on a single occasion and dined in one of their chaotic cattle markets. The experience left me with the view that Nando’s was essentially a more expensive, but marginally less terrible KFC. And I didn’t even have the comfort of knowing there was a Colonel running the place. They even have an ultra-secretive and exclusive ‘Black Cards’ club that only the most rich and famous amongst their congregation can consider themselves members of.

Of course, Coca Cola does have a notable connection to festive lore. It’s commonly claimed that they invented the iconic jolly red depiction of Santa we have all come to know and love. That’s more or less true, with it being more accurate to say they popularised it.

Needless to say, each year excitement over a Christmas commercial for a can of sugar reaches fever pitch. Jesus would be turning in his tomb if he hadn’t vacated  it. And if someone hadn’t made up the whole story about Jesus being in a tomb and vacating it.

The Coca Cola van depicted in those commercials has become such an artefact of worship now, that it actually goes on tour. Tours! People flock to see a truck! Upon learning that the city of Coventry was dropped from this years tour destinations, a leading Coventry councillor campaigned to have Coca-Cola reconsider their decision. Consider the below plea form Labour Councillor Count Rune. His language is that of a fearful subject, tentatively addressing a capricious deity:

“I’m writing to you on behalf of many Coventry residents who’d love to see you return to our city with your Christmas truck.

“The Coca-Cola Christmas truck has been a great part of our festive celebrations here in the city over the past couple of years and we were so disappointed to hear that you weren’t planning to come here this Christmas.

“I know that at this late stage you’ve got all your plans firmly in place for the towns and cities you’ll be visiting, but I thought it was still worth dropping you a line to say we’d give you a very warm welcome if you change your mind and can fit us in at any time over the next few weeks.

“I know you’re in Leicester on December 17; it’s really not far from us! We’d be delighted to have you here and I know you’d get a brilliant reaction from Coventry people.”

He added: “We’re happy to work with you to make sure you get the best possible location for your visit – just get in touch with me directly any time and I’ll make sure we give you all the support you need, oh sugary overlords.”

Yeah ok, so I added the one reference to ‘sugary overlords’ for effect, but you see my point. You can’t help but feel he was one breath away from offering up a human sacrifice to appease his calorific gods.

Feeling the festive cold, I nipped in to my local Primark to pick up some gloves the other day. I actually left with a Chewbacca onesie, (that’s a story for another day), but I also chanced upon this monstrosity on the racks:



Of course, it’s not for me to tell people how to celebrate Christmas. Christmas truly is what you make it. I’ve just never understood the willingness to make it about a soft drink.

There are many things I don’t understand about Christmas of course. Sprouts, Zombie Jews and Cliff Richard to name but a few – but The Cult of Coca-Cola is truly the most perplexing phenomenon of them all. Just as Pagan meaning for this time of year was eclipsed by Christian tradition many years ago, maybe this era will be remembered for the generation that ushered in this Scotch murdering, tooth-rot as the new reason for the season. Holidays are coming. I urge you to Join the resistance.

Stephen Knight is host of The #GSPodcast. You can listen to The Godless Spellchecker Podcast here, and support it by becoming a patron here.

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