Coca-Cola in Glass Bottles

We’re having quite a bit of heat here in Pretoria, at least from my perspective. It’s currently around 27ºC (around 80ºF) and this is supposedly still springtime.

Days like this I could really go for a nice, icy Coca-Cola. And that makes me think about the funny things we occasionally debate in the states: the variety of names for a soft drink (“pop” vs “soda” vs “cola); or whether a beverages tastes best in glass or aluminum (or for the sensory-challenged, plastic).

expat life Pretoria South Africa travel pop vs soda
Glass bottles of 1.25 liter Coke products line the shelves of this convenience store/gas station on Rt 40 in the Mpumalanga Province.

For the record, I’m from western Pennsylvania, and I call it “pop.” And as for taste, glass is the only container that I’ve found doesn’t transfer a taste to the beverage when exposed to heat. Cans get a metallic taste, and the taste of any soft drink that has been in a heated plastic bottle can be downright nasty, not to mention all the BPA floating around (because, y’know, Coke is so healthful otherwise).

In the area near Pretoria, South Africa where we’re living, many restaurants offer Coke in glass bottles. I treat myself to this about once a month, because I figure my gut can handle that much. In the stores here, the norm is packaging in cans and plastic.

So you might imagine how excited I was to see these convenience store coolers brimming with 1.25 liter glass bottles of Coke! In the states, the only glass bottles you find regularly are the “pony” bottles of Coke that they roll out for special occasions and charge three times as much as the cans or plastic.

expat life Pretoria South Africa travel pop vs soda
Fanta (also shown here in glass bottles) is quite popular in South Africa, and the variety is interesting!

But does it really matter whether Coca-Cola tastes better in glass vs. can vs. plastic or whether we call our beverages “pop” vs “soda” vs “cola”? No, of course not. But it also doesn’t hurt, as long as we keep reality in perspective, and consider that in Africa alone, there are 345 million people without access to clean drinking water.

And about that Coke? The reason I only treat myself to a Coke now very infrequently, is because of a hospice nurse I met while taking care of my mom. When mom was staying with me after surgery, she had to be fed through a tube. I would stock up on cans of liquid Enfamil, and then feed her by pouring them into a drip bag which went directly into her gut, bypassing the area where surgery removed a blockage due to her aggressive cancer.

The line was clear but the Enfamil seemed to stop going through mom’s gut, finally backing into the line. I showed the visiting nurse, who, in response, pulled out a can of Coca-Cola from her kit. She poured it through the tube, and within a few minutes the tube cleared and within a short time, mom’s intestine was ready for more enfamil. The nurse told me that Coke is one of the worst things for the human GI tract. It acts like drano, which is good for temporarily clearing blocked tubes and intestines, but awful to drink on a regular basis, because it will wear down the lining of your stomach, your throat, and your intestines.

expat life Pretoria South Africa travel pop vs soda
Welcome back to 1980 and TAB cola! It’s everywhere, and quite popular!

Now I have seen sites saying that the myth of Coca-Cola on the intestinal tract has been debunked. I’ve also seen sites that have citizen science projects with a can of coke and a piece of meat, showing the beverage eating away the flesh of the meat.  The regular use of many soft drinks has been linked to stomach problems, esophageal problems, and most notoriously, leaky gut syndrome.

All I can say to that is that in 2008 I watched a hospice nurse, who carried it for just that occasion, open a blockage in my mom’s tubing and part of her G.I tract using nothing but one can of Coke.

Will I still drink it? Yes. Because I personally believe that in small doses, such as a once-per-month treat, the human body is capable of handling and processing a large number of substances that wouldn’t be good long-term.

But that incident did change my desire to drink it on a regular basis. Now, I drink water every day, green tea and coffee, and my most frequent treat is a nice, cold, glass bottle of Pellegrino mineral water.

Now, if I could only change my mindset with coffee…


Happy Friday, everyone. What’s YOUR favorite drink on hot summer days?

Love, Marla

11 thoughts on “Coca-Cola in Glass Bottles

  1. I don’t drink soda, none of it. I am a water drinker and now and then I will flavor it. This isn’t anything more than I can’t tolerate sugar and I despise ‘sugar free’ soda. Bah! Glass is the only thing to serve soda in though, this preference shows my age and where I am from (Texas).

    This was an excellent post, touching all the bases.

  2. I’m new to TravelingMarla and I am so pleased to see Marla’s commentary covering health and social issues. It will be a pleasure to check out my inbox each day.

    1. Hi Barbara, I’m so glad you’re liking it. I never know what’s going to come out when I start writing. I feel as though I should have more of a plan, but when I start, it just kind of shapes as I go. Sometimes it’ll be social or health, other times, a strange mental journey about bacteria (oh gosh I love talking about bacteria) and well, I suppose that’s health again.
      Hmmm. Maybe I do work in health or social issues more than I thought I did.
      I hope you return and comment as often as you like.

  3. Wow, you’ve put things into perspective for sure. I am already missing our summer here in Canada. I am big on the peligrino or Perrier. Something about the fizz factor.

    1. I agree. It’s definitely the fizz factor that makes it. My husband doesn’t care for the taste of it. He and my brother say it tastes like dirty dishwater. 😉

  4. I’m more of a Pepsi girl myself – I’m down to about one a month but it must be very cold – poured out of the can over a full glass of ice – preferably crushed. And NEVER in a plastic cup. Coke in glass bottles is my husbands favorite – although whenever I get him one of those overpriced limited edition bottles he says it still doesn’t taste like it used to. I have many memories of pop in glass bottles – the way they sounded when you pulled them from the machine in Dale Millers store in MC, looking for empties so you could turn them in and supplement your 25 cent weekly allowance, and lugging numerous 8 packs in cardboard carriers back to the grocery store so you wouldn’t have to pay the deposits. Faced with all the varieties I loved as a child I’m pretty sure I’d be drinking at least one a day if I ever got to South Africa 🙂

    1. Oh I used to love going to Millers store. I’m sure my experience wasn’t quite the same as yours but I remember that pop machine. I loved going and pulling out the bottles. Our neighbor was the only person I knew, growing up, who kept glass bottles of Pepsi in her house. It was always a treat to go over there and have one.

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