Soviet Pepsi machine

When the Soviets Swapped Warships for Pepsi

At the end of the 1950’s there was a lot of dick swinging between the USA and the Soviet Union about whether communism or capitalism was better. Now, whilst history has taught us it was communism, back then it caused fierce debate.

During the debates, America was allowed to showcase capitalism in Russia, with the Ruskis being able to reciprocate in the US of A.

During one meeting between the top brass of both countries, famous shoe smacker Nikita Khrushchev ended up in fierce debate with Dick “incorruptible” Nixon. Whilst both held a heated debate about who would win the cold war, a Pepsi executive allegedly leant over and offered a cup of the black stuff to Khrushchev. Nikita was allegedly blown away by the stuff and thus the Soviet love of Pepsi began. Soviet Pepsi would be almost inevitable.

Bringing Soviet Pepsi Back in the USSR

Stolichnaya Russian vodka

Despite hating all things western and decadent, the USSR needed something to cheer Russians up during the Brezhnev stagnation. Sadly Pepsi were not happy to be paid in useless Roubles, so a compromise had to be found. The USSR obviously had a lot of vodka, so in exchange for exclusive rights to the sale of Stolichnya, the American company agreed to provide the Soviet Pepsi. Yeah, the Russians decided to pay for stuff with vodka.

There’s one funny anecdote to accompany this story. When Pepsi was entering the Soviet market, the Pepsi CEO asked the Russian minister in charge of things what the most popular drink in the USSR was. The minister in classic humorless fashion replied “vodka”. The cheeky chap from Pepsi then replied they would see what the most popular drink was the next year. A year later the bold Pepsi chap duly asked what the most popular drink was now, to which the wry Minister replied with classic Russian lack of humor “Vodka and Pepsi”.

Company No Longer Accept Vodka as Payment for Soviet Pepsi

As the 1980’s drew to a close, the USSR was going through a lot of shit. War in Angola, War in Afghanistan, the Eastern Bloc leaving en-masse and even the Berlin Wall falling. And if this was not enough, Pepsi were now insisting cash payments rather than bottles of vodka.

The chief problem with this plan was that Perestroika had been a rampant failure and the Soviets were skint. It was then that they decided to give Pepsi an offer they couldn’t refuse. Would it be possible to pay for Soviet Pepsi with warships?

Pepsi Becomes the Sixth Biggest Navy in the World

Soviet navy Kirov class cruiser

In a deal worth a whopping $3 billion Pepsi received 17 submarines, a cruiser, a frigate and a destroyer.

The net result of this was two fold, firstly the world realized just much the USSR loved Soviet Pepsi and number 2, Pepsi were now a military superpower.

This created something akin to a dystopian horror story. We’ve all seen movies whereby evil corporations become military superpowers and it never goes well. With this in mind what would be the next one from Pepsi? Would they use their new found military strength to put one last blow into coke and finally end the cola wars?

Sadly Pepsi were an absolute bunch of pussies and instead of finally vanquishing Coca-Cola, sold their ships for scrap.

The Fall of the Soviet Union!!!

First Soviet McDonalds opening

In 1991 things were really going tits up for the USSR, so much so that the very epitome of US Imperialism McDonalds had now set up shop in Moscow. Conservative communists had one last bash at a coup to restore order, but the game was up, the USSR was no more.

Russian entered a phase of wild-west communism with its markets now open to western goods. One of these goods was Coca-Cola. At this point Pepsi were pretty confident that their popularity would vanquish the threat from Classic Coke, but things were not to work out like that.

Russians looked back at Soviet Pepsi with a fair amount of nostalgia as the first western brand to enter the country, but nostalgia isn’t always a good thing. Essentially Pepsi reminded people of the bad old days of the Brezhnev stagnation and the fall of the Soviet Union under Gorbachev. (Who himself ended up hawking capitalist Pizza Hut) Not to mention visions of drunk uncle Yuri hugging his “Pepsi” bottle.

Nowadays Pepsi is the third most popular soft-drink in Russia after Coca-Cola and Beer (beer is considered a soft-drink in Russia).

Following their defeat to Coca-Cola one can only assume that the executives at Pepsi reminisced about when they were the 6th biggest naval force on the planet, probably regretting that they didn’t use this military might to fuck up Coke.

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