Orange Soft Drink - Coca Cola Brand

1940 - present

Germany; Naples; United States


Despite being part of the Coca Cola American empire, Fanta was born in Europe at the beginning of World War II, thanks to the entreprenurship and creativity of Coca Cola's head representative in the country, Max Keith.

The origin of the soft drink goes in fact back to the beginning of 1940 when Keith, due to the economic embargo caused by the war, ran out of the necessary ingredients to make Coke and was therefore forced to come out with an alternative drink to be produced and distributed under the Coca Cola trademark, as soon as the supply of Coke would run out.

It was, thus, in the context of the war that “Fanta” was created. This latter was named after the German word fantasie, meaning imagination or fantasy, and because of wartime shortages overtly made out of “leftovers from leftovers.”

Keith registered the Fanta trademark at the Berne International Patent Office in 1940 and immediately began production, selling 186.000 cases of the new drink, which would become 1.268.000 in 1941, and 2.807.000 in 1943.

In 1942, Keith had also been appointed to the Office of Enemy Property and put in charge of supervising Coca Cola’s activity and properties in all German occupied and allied territories. As such, he took over the company’s business in Belgium, Holland, Norway, Italy and France. It was therefore under his supervision that the Italian production of Fanta began, soon followed by the official registration of the Fanta trademark in the peninsula. By February 1942, in fact, the Italian Società Anonima Coca Cola, had almost run out of Coke and was consequently ready to shift to the sole production of “fruit juices,” probably referring to Fanta. The Italian company was also able to receive loans from the Coca Cola G.m.b.H and Keith himself went to Genoa to help introduce Fanta.

The introduction of Fanta did not seem however to bring much improvement for Coca Cola's Italian market. In March 1942 it was communicated to Coca Cola's president Woodruff that, in spite of all good wishes, the Italian market had “made a small amount of money." Notwithstanding, in 1944, Fanta sales in German controlled areas reached quota 2.8 million cases.

At the end of the conflict, the ownership of the Fanta trademark was briefly transferred to Alberto de Mazzeri, director of the “Industria Coca Cola di Milano” (the Milan bottler), which that same year became the “Fabbrica Milanese per l’imbottigliamento delle bevande gassate di Carlo e Alberto Alberti de Mazzeri. The production of the orange soft drink was however soon interrupted.

It was only in 1955 that the production of Fanta was revived by Coca Cola'a bottler in Naples, where it was first proposed in its present form, as “an orange soda made of oranges.” The new trademark was registered in February 1955 and, at first, limited to the Italian market.

In such form, Fanta represents an effective examples of creolization, as the creation of the soft drink combined American methods of production, marketing and distribution with Italian fresh fruit and taste for genuineness.

The fact that Fanta was first launched in Naples also points toward the development, by the mid-1950s, of a well-established market in Southern Italy, where Coca Cola had been practically nonexistent up until the early 1950s. The novelty paid off: Fanta immediately gained a good volume of business, and its Naples bottler, Ermelino Matarazzo, became president of Coca Cola’s Italian Bottlers Association. From Naples, then, Fanta reached Rome, where it started to be regularly produced and distributed by Coca Cola’s new Roman Bottler, the “Azienda Romana Imbottigliamento Bevande – ARIB.”

Moreover,  the beverage was soon launched, from Italy, also in Australia, Western Europe.

Only in 1960 Fanta would definitively arrive on the US market.

Related Vectors

Coca Cola

Soft Drink - Coca Cola Company

Media gallery


Crisanti, Giulia. "Europeans Are Lovin'it? Coca Cola, McDonald's and the Responses to American Global Businesses in Italy and France, 1886-2016." PhD Diss. Fordham University, May 2021.

Pendergrast, Mark. For God, Country & Coca Cola. The Definitive History of the Great American Soft Drink and the Company That Makes It. New York: Basic Books, 2013.

Hays, Constance L. The Real Thing: Truth and Power at The Coca Cola Company. New York: Random House, 2004.

Author Giulia Crisanti