The Story of ‘White Coke’, the Top Secret Cola Commissioned by a Soviet Marshal After WWII

The Story of ‘White Coke’, the Top Secret Cola Commissioned by a Soviet Marshal After WWII

Over the weekend I learned about White Coke. Not the powder, the drink: a clear version of Coca-Cola that retains the flavour. One that was commissioned by a Soviet marshal.

This is one of those fun fact topics that comes up every now and again (having recently gone viral on YouTube Shorts), and I reckon something this strange from Coca-Cola deserves a story.


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The story of White Coke

Back in the late 1940s, relations were deteriorating between the west and the Soviet Union. Walls went up, businesses were cut off from the Iron Curtain, and Coca-Cola was banned.

The problem: Soviet marshal Georgy Konstantinovich Zhukov loved the drink, as it made its way into the hands of soldiers fighting on the front lines. Zhukov also thought it could be a bad look to be seen drinking a western drink.

Zhukov thought that perhaps if the drink lacked the distinctive caramel colouring, it could be passed off as vodka. According to Russia Beyond, Zhukov asked President Truman (the U.S. President between 1945 and 1953) if it were possible for Coca-Cola to create such a thing.

According to A History of the World in Six Glasses author Tom Standage, Truman passed the order on to Coca-Cola, and eventually, bottles of the undercover Coke made their way to Zhukov.

Bottles were manufactured to look like vodka, again according to Russia Beyond, and a red star was placed on the lid of the bottle.

Unlike this special White Coke, it’s unclear when shipments stopped, though Business Insider writes that 50 crates of White Coke were delivered to the Soviets in Vienna without any interference at the border.

Not your usual coke-smuggling story, but it’s certainly an anomaly among Cold War tensions between the Eastern and Western Blocs.

Today, the drink isn’t available in Russia. Not because Russia has banned it, mind you, but because Coca-Cola has suspended trade in the country due to the war with Ukraine.

Perhaps White Coke will make a return. One day. Personally, I’m not sure if I’d enjoy Coke as much without the colour.

This article has been updated since it was originally published.

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