Start Cola Earlier, says the Soda Pop Board of America

At first glance, this appears to be a vintage ad by the "Soda Pop Board of America" extolling the virtues of drinking cola at an early age. It's been circulating around the internet for quite a while, during which time many sites have angrily responded to the claims made in the ad.

For instance, the Queen Anne Chiropractic Center declared that the ad demonstrates "just how wicked the Mad Men of yesteryear were." The parenting blog wrote: "We all know that, on occasion, advertisements can offer some fairly crappy advice. Back in the day, though, ads had no shame." And offered the ad as evidence that, "Soda companies, much like drug companies, have relentlessly tried to convince parents that forcing their products onto their children is a smart thing to do."

I could go on, but I'll cut to the chase: the ad isn't real. It's just a very successful vintage-ad parody created in 2002 by RJ White, who explains its full provenance on his blog Ice Cream Motor:

About seven or eight years ago, I made this fake ad, exhorting parents to give soda to their babies. It was done on a bored afternoon when J.D. Ryznar asked for someone to make that very specific thing on his livejournal. I whipped it together, posted it to the web, joke over.

THEN. A couple of years later- it started showing up online, in those weird lists that pop up every so often with a "Oh man, ads sure were strange back then, weren't they?" theme. Thing is, those ads are largely real and mine is not and very obviously so.

White links to the original livejournal post that inspired him to create the ad. His ad seems to be currently enjoying a fresh wave of popularity thanks to tumblr and pinterest which are presenting it to new audiences, many of whom (once again) seem to be accepting it at face value as a genuine vintage ad.

Advertising Food

Posted on Thu Apr 26, 2012


Pay attention to the way words are used. "Teen" and "pre-teen" weren't terms at the time this illustration would have been drawn. "Adolescent" would have been used. "Teen-ager" would have been used occasionally, spelled with a hyphen, but the term hadn't become a household word yet.
Posted by Meringue  on  Sun May 06, 2012  at  10:50 PM
Yup. Which is why it sounds like I wrote it in the 21st Century.

Which I did.
Posted by RJ White  on  Tue May 08, 2012  at  07:38 PM
And that's how I knew when I first saw this. It was on a blog in a group of old ads. I can't remember which one, though.
Posted by Meringue  on  Wed May 09, 2012  at  09:54 PM
The first thing I noticed was the backwards Coca-Cola logo. Any sort of "Soda-Pop Board" would primarily be a mouthpiece for Coke, so they wouldn't mess that up.

Posted by Andy L  on  Sun Jul 08, 2012  at  05:06 PM
What made me suspicious were two things: Caring about whether your child fits in is a relatively recent concept, and "soda pop" is too regional as a name for a national organization. Otherwise, very well done and it's fooled a lot of smart people.
Posted by Corinne C.  on  Mon Aug 06, 2012  at  09:07 AM
I see by the comments this ad is a hoax. However, I was born in the late l940's and my mom put a snap on nipple on coca cola bottles and fed them to me... don't know what age I was. I believe she also fed my sister, 7 years older than I, coca cola from a bottle.
Posted by margosparkle  on  Tue Aug 14, 2012  at  03:39 AM
Perhaps there should have been a notation on the margin of the poster with a creation date. That might have been a clue to the casual observer who could easily take this as the real deal.
Posted by bodynsoil  on  Fri Sep 14, 2012  at  03:06 AM
Very clever but also ''typical '' of the general mindset for advertisers prior to any restrictions being placed on them. As a 62 year old Non- Smoker I can recall how ''9 out of 10 Doctors '' etc, was used to Sell Cigarettes. There is a ''7 UP '' magazine Advertisement using a black & white photo of a baby being given their product from a coloured bottle. Is this another FAKE ? It's difficult to read the advertising spin in the smaller type but it also seems to have creases in the paper to further appear genuine. If that's Real Your's is not at all off the target.
Posted by Brian Ringrose  on  Sat Sep 15, 2012  at  03:24 PM
The reason I and many others believed this without giving it much scrutiny is because it is NOT far fetched. Once you have seen vintage ads for cigarettes quoting doctors extolling smoking's beneficial effects on the lungs at a time when the tobacco companies already knew the truth from their own research, nothing surprises. "just how wicked the Mad Men of yesteryear were" is just a statement of the truth.
Posted by Gary Welch  on  Thu May 02, 2013  at  04:16 AM
I like how our current crop of snake oil salesmen bought it so credulously and blamed it on drug companies.
Posted by Kevin  on  Sun May 05, 2013  at  10:18 PM

Funny thing but coke syrup (no water and carbonation) was used medicinally... used for calming an upset stomach... worked pretty damn well too.
Posted by Todd Flink  on  Mon Sep 16, 2013  at  10:32 AM
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