1980S nostalgia has taken the United States by storm in the past 10 years, reboots of the thing Robocop and Ghostbusters hit the movie theaters, Karate Kid, Star Wars and Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure all got sequels.
And Netflix's throwback fantasy series, Stranger Things dominated the cultural conversation as part of a cross promotional campaign in 2019.
Coca-Cola released Stranger Things branded bottles of New Coke. For those who may not remember, New Coke is a variation on the classic Coke recipe and an iconic emblem of 80s culture. It's as recognizable as legwarmers shoulder pads or Madonna.
During the promotion, customers could buy a collector's pack with two glass bottles and two cans of the beverage for nineteen dollars and eighty five cents.
That works out to about 40 ounces, a bit more than a liter of soda for 20 bucks. Just to put that in perspective, a liter of coke today is about a dollar fifty.
But it's not surprising that Coca-Cola would cash in on New Coke's infamy. The product is the stuff of corporate legends. Today, marketing students study the flavors disastrous debut as a lesson in what not to do with a product launch still as embarrassing as the New Coke disaster was. They seem to be celebrating it with the stranger. Things tie in.
And maybe that's because the humiliating mistake wasn't a mistake at all, as unlikely as it sounds.
Perhaps the beverages flop was all part of a plan for Coca-Cola to crush their largest corporate rivals, Pepsi, sit back and crack open a soda or about to take a deep dive into the cola wars.
Welcome to Conspiracy Theories, a Spotify original from podcast, every Monday and Wednesday, we dig into the complicated stories behind the world's most controversial events and search for the truth. I'm Carter Roy.
And I'm Molly Brandenberg.
And neither of us are conspiracy theorists, but we are open minded, skeptical and curious. Don't get us wrong. Sometimes the official version is the truth, but sometimes it's not.
You can find episodes of conspiracy theories and all other Spotify originals from Parkhurst for free on Spotify or wherever you listen to podcasts.
This is our first of two episodes on the Cola Wars. In the 1970s and 80s, Americans were pressured to decide whether they were Team Coke or Team Pepsi. It seemed like a harmless corporate competition, but the battle for soda dominance may have had a real human cost.
Today, we're going to cover the history of both Coca-Cola and Pepsi. We'll talk about the controversial moves each company made on the path to become number one. And we'll explore the infamous New Coke debacle.
Next time, we'll ask whether New Coke was actually a cover for a more nefarious scheme. Perhaps the updated flavor was always intended to be a flop. The soda may have been released, so Coca-Cola could quietly tweak the classic recipe and remove the cocaine they secretly included in the original formula. We have all that and more coming up. Stay with us. If you are tuning in, chances are you've got quite the imagination or the dark, dangerous and deceitful, cool for podcasts, but not so cool for your safety, for peace of mind.
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In the late eighteen eighties, a pharmacist named John Doc Pemberton decided to get rich selling homemade cures and elixirs.
We should note, in spite of his nickname, Doc wasn't a traditional doctor. He hadn't trained in mainstream medical practice, instead advocating for alternative treatments and remedies.
And he wasn't alone in his passions. Late 19th century doctors and patients were wild about miracle drugs, and even pharmacists could get rich quick, selling, inert or sometimes dangerous products as cure all remedies.
Before Pemberton's time, even something as benign as ketchup was marketed as a treatment for diarrhea, jaundice and rheumatism. Bayer Pharmaceuticals peddled heroin as a cough suppressant and a safer alternative to morphine and literal snake oil salesmen claimed that rattlesnakes bodily fluids could cure their gullible customers.
It's no wonder that Pemberton figured he could brew his own dubious remedy and make a fortune.
His first hit product was called French Wine Koka, it contains several ingredients that would raise eyebrows today, but they were considered healthy at the time, things like wine and coca leaves, which contain cocaine.
Pemberton claimed that French wine coca was an energy drink and a remedy for morphine addiction, and the people loved it. Unsurprisingly, the beverage sold well, but it wasn't long before Pemberton ran into an obstacle.
Just months after French wine coca hit the shelves at the end of 1885, Fulton County, Georgia, outlawed alcohol.
Atlanta based Doc Pemberton had a new problem, realizing he'd probably never strike it big with his fermented tonic, Pemberton went back to the drawing board. He wanted to replicate French wine Coco's success, but with a non-alcoholic beverage.
Luckily, he had a new product in mind. It, too, featured coca leaves. But he added The Kola Nut, a West African fruit pit that's high in caffeine. The mixture of coca and cola gave customers a mild buzz and inspired the drinks name Coca-Cola.
The beverage sold modestly in its first year. Unfortunately, Pemberton wasn't particularly skilled with marketing and distribution. So shortly before his death, he sold the business to a fellow druggist with more business sense.
Asa Candler, from their Candler, built a beverage empire through soda fountains. In the 19th century, cola manufacturers generally sold syrup to local businesses. This was more efficient because soda bottling technology was fairly new and not widespread. Yet there, carbonated water was added to the syrup, so the coke was fresh and fizzy when it was served.
Candlemas forward thinking mindset didn't stop there. He knew he could reach more customers if he didn't limit his avenues of distribution. So in 1889, he sold bottling rights to a plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Now, customers didn't need to visit the nearest soda fountain for a glass of Coca-Cola. They could buy it at the corner shop and drink it at home.
Then Candler made another, even bigger shakeup. He altered the Coca-Cola recipe.
We don't know all the changes Candler made to the recipe, but we know one of his goals. He didn't want to sell cocaine to his customers. And he had two reasons why. First, Candler was very religious. Second, and more importantly, he was racist.
Most soda fountains were segregated, so only white people could drink Coca-Cola on tap, but once he started selling bottled Coke, Southern newspapers began printing rumors of, quote, Negro cocaine fiends and, quote, White supremacists suggested that the soda drove people of color to commit violent crimes, including sexual assault. Hypocritically, nobody expressed any concern that cocaine might drive white people to commit crimes.
And to be realistic, there probably wasn't enough cocaine in the beverage to spur consumers to violence, although it's hard to say because it doesn't seem like anyone was tracking how much they were using in the recipe. Regardless, Candler was committed to eliminating the Coke from Coke.
The problem was coca leaves have a distinct flavor. They couldn't be left out of the recipe without ruining the way the beverage tasted. So he invented a process to do cocaine, ice, the leaves, meaning he removed the components that give the plants their potency. With this process, people could drink Coca Cola with real coca but not get high.
It took him a while to perfect the decolonizing process, but by 1992 he'd figured out how to remove most but not all of the drug. The soda only had one four hundredth of a grain of cocaine, or about 65 milligrams per ounce of syrup. For context, at that concentration, you'd have to chug nine liters of syrup to get the equivalent of a single line of powder.
Since the syrup gets diluted in carbonated water before it's bottled or served at a soda fountain, you'd need to drink even five times more Coca-Cola, nearly 12 gallons to get the same buzz.
The company didn't figure out how to completely neutralize the coca leaves until nineteen twenty nine. But then finally, Coke was totally cocaine free.
Even without its signature stimulant, the COLA still became America's favorite soda, taking hold of the global market, too, by the time World War Two broke out in Europe and Asia. Coca-Cola had bottling companies across the globe, even in Nazi Germany.
That's because in 1929, Coke open their German plant. Four years later, when Hitler won the chancellorship and Europe started preparing for war, Coca-Cola executives weighed their options.
Ultimately, they decided to chase profits for as long as they could, which meant they didn't endorse the Nazi party, but they were more than happy to collaborate with them as nationalistic fervor swept across the country.
They marketed Coca-Cola as a symbol of German pride. Adolph Hitler and Hermann Goering are said to have loved the beverage.
In 1939, the Nazis invaded Poland, spurring on World War Two. But even that didn't discourage the American corporation. The company reportedly kept the lines of communication open with German officials in order to protect their bottom line to help smooth the relationship.
Coca-Cola, as head of German operations, a businessman named Max Caite displayed swastikas and Hitler's photos at a company convention. He also led his employees in a Sieg Heil to show their loyalty. And the American office didn't seem to have a problem with any of this.
Their collaboration with Kate in the Nazis didn't end until the United States officially joined the war effort in 1941.
But even after CocaCola officially cut ties with their German plants, the facility was still there as where its employees, Kate, couldn't import American ingredients anymore. So he used the factories. He had to invent a new soda Fanta.
When the war ended, Coca Cola's American executives couldn't help but notice Kate's ingenuity. They reportedly investigated him. And despite the solutes and the swastikas at the plant, Coke ruled that because Kate never joined the Nazi party, his behavior didn't merit termination.
In 1955, Coke began formally producing Fanta in Italy. Unlike the Nazi version, this iteration used fresh ingredients and was orange flavored. Customers went wild for it.
But while Coca-Cola executives conquered the European soda market, they failed to notice a dangerous challenger in their home country. An upstart soda company was poised to become their largest competitor, and its name was Pepsi.
Coming up, the cola wars begin, you discover their practices, seek their advice, and let yourself become more vulnerable than ever before, they have the ability to heal what the doctors can't or so they say. Hi, listeners, it's Vanessa from the podcast series Cults.
Be sure to check out our four part special on Myracle Healer's airing right now. Meet figures from around the world who claimed powers and pushed remedies. But Harbord, more sinister intentions. You don't want to miss it. And if you're looking for more episodes on the most radical and deadly groups in history, tune into cults every Tuesday from Jim Jones and the People's Temple to Charles Manson and the Manson family. To Keith Ranieri and Nexium, you'll uncover the unscrupulous methods used to turn bright eyed recruits into diehard believers.
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No gimmicks, no compromises, just results. Instead, a better way to Lohn instead go to choose instead dotcom to find your plan and get 10 percent off with promo code Spotify. Now back to the story. In the late 19th century, two soda companies hit the scene, Coca-Cola was an instant hit. Meanwhile, Pepsi was David to their Goliath. They didn't have the market share or the brand recognition, but they were ready to take on the giant.
The inventor of Pepsi was a pharmacist named Caleb Bradham. And like Doc Pemberton, Bradham wanted to develop a medicinal drink in 1893. Given that Coca-Cola had been on the market for seven years at that point, it's possible he even took inspiration from Pemberton's success.
Originally, Pepsi was marketed as a digestive aid. Its name, Pepsi Cola, was meant to evoke pepsin, which can settle upset stomachs.
Interestingly, Pepsi didn't contain pepsin, and that wasn't the only problem.
Customers didn't flock to Pepsi the way they'd done with Coke, and Bradham didn't have the business acumen to turn a profit on the soda. When World War One began, he stockpiled sugar under the impression its price would only rise over time.
Instead, the market tanked out. Bradham went bankrupt and in 1923 he had no choice but to sell the company. Then the Great Depression hit and the new owners of Pepsi also filed for bankruptcy in 1931.
At one point, they even tried to sell Pepsi to the country's largest soda manufacturer, Coca-Cola. But Coke wasn't interested. From their perspective, Pepsi was a minor, failed upstart. It wasn't even worth owning.
But it was a mistake to underestimate Pepsi. The company was about to make a comeback by way of a savvy marketing team that knew exactly how to entice customers.
This new team was smart. After the Great Depression, they began selling 12 ounce Pepsi bottles for five cents apiece. At the time, Coke pedaled six ounce bottles for the same price. So Pepsi argued that they were a better value, a message that resonated with cash strapped Americans during and after World War Two.
Pepsi adapted their campaigns with the changing times, but they weren't close to being as popular as Coca-Cola, and they knew they'd never win over Coke's most devoted customers.
Instead, Pepsi targeted potential customers who'd largely been ignored people of color.
In 1947, Pepsi shocked the nation by featuring black people in an advertisement.
The campaign triggered complaints and threats from racist customers, but it won them a new market. Black soda drinkers.
In reply, Coca-Cola dug its heels in branding itself as a soda for people with traditional values. In 1954, a print ad proclaimed, Pure and wholesome, delicious and refreshing.
Coca-Cola is unlike any other drink in the world, and it's no mistake that one of Coke's most famous spokespeople is Santa Claus, an icon of tradition.
In the 1960s, Pepsi updated their marketing tactics to target yet another untapped consumer base, teenagers and young adults who hadn't developed a soda preference.
Thus began a 1963 ad campaign celebrating the so-called Pepsi generation. Celebrities with teen appeal touted the sodas youthful elements as Pepsi's president and CEO Roger Enrico later explained, We've used this Pepsi generation campaign to reach out not just to the young, but to all people who look forward, who are curious about the next thing who want more out of life.
By advertising to young people, Pepsi inadvertently stepped into the growing cultural rift, liberal rebellious youth were distancing themselves from conservative older Americans.
Pepsi wasn't just a fad for the young. They wanted to be seen as a progressive company. But behind the scenes, they weren't quite as forward thinking.
In 1970, Pepsi had a bottling plant in Chile, a country that seemed poised to turn socialist. With that year's election, far left presidential candidate Salvador Allende had narrowly lost the presidency in former campaigns. This time around, he looked like he would win.
But this was during the Red Scare, and the United States couldn't abide another far left ruler in South America. So the CIA intervened throughout the years leading up to the presidential race, the United States funneled millions of dollars into A.I.M. and propaganda, but the cash influx wasn't enough and still one.
After his inauguration in November of 1970, Allende raised workers wages and started to nationalize the agricultural and mining industries.
This must have concerned the Chilean Pepsi executives. If their operations were taken over by the government or shut down, they'd never make a profit. Which is probably why, in September 1970, PepsiCo's chairman place two phone calls to U.S. President Richard Nixon.
After their conversations, the CIA began supplying weapons to right wing Chilean activists. Thanks to this clandestine support, Augusto Pinochet staged a coup on September 11th, 1973.
Pinochet's followers stormed the presidential palace as President Allende died, apparently by suicide. But some have alleged that Pinochet supporters murdered him. This might sound like another conspiracy theory, but many of the details, including Pepsi's involvement in the coup, have been confirmed by the former American ambassador to Chile, Edward Corey.
In other words, Pepsi and Coke weren't just corporations anymore. They'd become major players in the United States international agenda.
With this newfound power, each company appeared intent to preserve its influence. Think of how Facebook crushed MySpace or how Netflix made Blockbuster obsolete.
When Pepsi and Coca-Cola weren't securing their strongholds overseas, they were battling each other for market dominance. The media branded this rivalry the Cola Wars.
Customers followed the competition the way they might watch a football game or soccer match. They identified with their preferred brand. Ongoing press coverage only further reminded people to pick up their favorite soda each time they visited the grocery store, which means throughout the Cola wars, Coke and Pepsi both saw sales increases.
The competition was good for everyone, but Pepsi was still second best in the United States.
Coca-Cola was king, so Pepsi tried to find other ways to boost revenue. They merged with Frito-Lay, the company that makes Doritos Funyuns and lays potato chips.
Later, in the late 1970s and mid 80s, Pepsi even ventured into owning restaurant chains. Pizza Hut, Taco Bell and Kentucky Fried Chicken were added to the portfolio.
Not only did these purchases guarantee another revenue stream, Pepsi also gained exclusivity. If you love Coca-Cola, but you're craving a case, Orito, you're out of luck.
Of course, Coke had exclusive partnerships, too, including a lucrative deal with McDonald's. But that didn't stop there. After Pepsi's fast food shopping spree, Coca-Cola bought Columbia Pictures, the film studio responsible for Tootsie Ghandhi and Days of Our Lives.
All these acquisitions were the icing on the cake, or rather the ice cubes in the glass. Even as the corporations grew, they remained focused on beverage dominance. And long before a Pepsi acquired fast food and salty snacks, they released their first diet soda.
Coca Cola shot back in 1982, debuting Diet Coke. And while the name suggested a healthier version of the classic Coke recipe, in reality it was a totally new formula.
Ironically, it was much sweeter than original Coke, and that was another shot across Pepsi's bow. Pepsi had always been the sweeter soda. Now Diet Coke was encroaching on their territory. So Pepsi returned fire through an aggressive advertising campaign in 1983, they signed a five million dollar deal with a pop superstar and not just any flash in the pan teenybopper. They snagged the king of Pop, Michael Jackson.
This was a huge risk. The contract broke records for celebrity endorsement payouts. On top of that, according to Pepsi president and CEO Roger and the commercial shoot was riddled with challenges.
First, Jackson stipulated upfront that he didn't want his face to be visible in the commercial for more than four seconds total. And the final cut could only use a single Close-Up shot.
That's a lot of restrictions for five million dollars.
Yep. And things got even worse when filming began. During one sequence, Jackson was supposed to dance on a stage while pyrotechnics fired around him, but something went wrong. One of the effects went off while Jackson was standing right next to it. His head actually caught on fire.
Jackson lost nearly all of his hair. His scalp had second degree burns, and he suffered from severe migraines. Throughout his recovery, Pepsi executives feared he'd sue, running up their five million dollar bill even more.
Instead, Jackson made peace with the soda giant when they agreed to finance a new burn unit at Culver City's Bratman Medical Center. And when the commercial debuted, Pepsi's leaders forgot all their fears and concerns.
During his scant four seconds of airtime, Jackson lit up the screen.
Pepsi sales immediately spiked, so much so that they became the fastest growing non diet soda in the market.
They were on pace to finally defeat Coca-Cola, but Jackson couldn't take all the credit. Shortly before they shot his ad, Pepsi, 66, discovered a secret weapon. It was so effective it blew Michael Jackson's campaign out of the water.
The SIP test, a SIP test is exactly what it sounds like. A taste test based on a single small sip. It's not exactly scientific either. You may not want to drink an entire glass of sugary soda, but generally speaking, if you only get a small taste, you are more likely to prefer something even sweeter.
Which meant when Pepsi conducted Blind Sip tests, the subjects largely preferred it over Coke. Even devoted Coca-Cola fans picked Pepsi more than half of the time.
That became the theme of a new marketing campaign called the Pepsi Challenge. In the summer of nineteen eighty three, the soda brand released a series of commercials that showed everyday people choosing Pepsi over a Coca-Cola, quote, time after time after time, the campaign made lifelong Coke drinkers reconsider their soda preferences.
Consequently, the upstart soda jumped off the shelves in the early 1980s.
Supermarkets were selling more Pepsi than Coke. The latter still had sizable revenue streams from restaurants and vending machines, settings where Pepsi wasn't an option due to exclusive deals. But when Coca-Cola and Pepsi faced off directly, Pepsi consistently won. It was only a matter of time before the United States had a new number one soda.
The battle lines were drawn, the cola wars were sparking.
It was anyone's game, that is, until Coke made one of the biggest blunders in all of corporate history. They released a new soda so unpopular it almost did what prohibition World War Two and competing cola companies couldn't. New Coke nearly drove Coca-Cola out of business.
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Now back to the story. In 1982, Pepsi and Coca-Cola were at each other's throats. The brilliant Pepsi Challenge campaign had peeled even lifelong Coca-Cola devotees away from the brand. It seemed like only a matter of time until Pepsi would become the top selling cola in the United States.
But the SIP test results gave Coke executives valuable information, specifically that the average consumer seemed to prefer sweet soda. So it was only natural that Coca-Cola would try to launch their own more sugary beverage to compete with Pepsi.
Remember, they already had one syrupy line Diet Coke, but there were a lot of customers who didn't want to drink a diet soda. They wanted all the flavor, all the calories and all the sugar content. So Coke's employees got to work developing a regular sweet recipe that meant a massive R&D phase, the largest in the company's history.
They conducted 200000 blind taste tests over the course of three years.
They asked people to compare the new formula to Pepsi, to regular Coke and to Diet Coke. Based on the feedback, Coca-Cola continue to tweak their recipe. In nineteen eighty five, they found it the new concoction consistently, one internal taste test against Pepsi and original Coca-Cola. It was undeniably the tastiest soda out there. The question was, how could they market it to customers?
They could have sold it as a new Coca-Cola flavor, just like they'd done with Diet Coke. But executives were reluctant to do that. They feared the new blend would splinter their customer base. Some people would prefer the original COLA, some the newer one, and eventually sales would split so much that Pepsi would become the national top selling soda.
So instead, Coca-Cola executives opted for a much bolder move. They discontinued the original flavor forever. The New Coke would be the only Coke.
Before we continue, let's pause to define some terms. When the corporation released this new flavor, they didn't give it a special name. They just called it Coca-Cola. Although the cans were labeled as new. Seeing this, most customers called it New Coke to differentiate it from the original flavor and will be doing the same in the run up to its release.
New Coke was a closely guarded secret. Even during taste tests, marketing executives didn't want to let on. The improved recipe would replace the existing one, so they never asked how their taste testers might react if the original version went away entirely.
On April 23, 1985, Coke CEO spoke to 700 journalists to announce that for the first time in 99 years, they changed their recipe. New Coke had arrived to celebrate the product launch.
Coca-Cola hosted a rally in the same city as their headquarters, Atlanta, Georgia. They launched 25000 balloons into the air, all red and white to reflect the branding. Now, only one question remained what people take to the new flavor. At first, the reaction was positive. In the weeks after New Coke's release, sales reportedly went up by eight percent. Those numbers, combined with Diet Cokes, meant the Coca-Cola Corporation broke records in the summer of 1985.
But the brand made enemies in a small but vocal segment of their fan base, these consumers missed the original flavor and they hated the fact that it was no longer for sale.
So people complained to the tune of 1500 customer calls a day. The conversations were so intense, Coca-Cola brought in psychologists and the experts said that the customers sounded as troubled as if they'd recently lost a family member.
All the while, sales stayed high. It's hard to explain, but people seem to love New Coke even while they came out in droves to critique it.
To satisfy Coca-Cola fans, signed petitions. They held rallies. They organized letter writing campaigns, the frustrations made for good news. So the press ran with them.
It didn't take long for the discontent to become the dominant narrative about Coke. It didn't matter that the soda sold well. Everyone was talking about how it didn't taste right. It was too similar to Pepsi. It was a betrayal of Coca-Cola as an American institution.
Even talk show hosts mocked New Coke, late night host like Johnny Carson and David Letterman guy to the TV side of the narrative. Their monologues harped ruthlessly on how terrible New Coke was.
Customers responded to this press and seemingly overnight, Coca-Cola sales plummeted. The corporation has never confirmed exactly how much money they lost, but the New York Times estimated that 30 million dollars worth of product sat on shelves. That coupled with the four million dollars they blew developing the new flavor made New Coke one of the costliest blunders in soda history. One thing was clear, everyone seemed to want the original Coca-Cola back and Coke's competitors were poised to jump in on the opportunity, Pepsi assigned a team to try to reverse engineer the original recipe.
They cracked the code, too, but with just one problem. The sodas flavor depended on cocaine, iced coca leaves and Coke was the only company with legal authority to distribute coca in the United States. Pepsi could have applied for an exemption, but that would have tipped off their competitors.
They hope to recreate the flavor some other way. They just needed a little more time and research and development.
Pepsi was poised to release their Coca-Cola copycat, dubbed Savanah Cola on Labor Day in 1985.
If they pulled it off, they would capture fans of Pepsi and Coke, which meant Coca Cola had to do something before early September or else they might go under.
So on July 11th, Coke rereleased their original flavor, the one they'd promised to discontinue forever. It had only been 79 days since New Coke's debut sales immediately recovered.
The public had asked for original Coca-Cola and they got original Coca Cola.
The corporation was saved, but that wasn't the end of the story.
In the early 90s, Coca Cola rereleased New Coke as a unique flavor. For a decade, New Coke and the original sold side by side. But the offshoot never quite took off, leaving the corporation to discontinue New Coke entirely.
In 2002, New Coke went down in history as an iconic failure, an example of what not to do when launching a new product.
So much so that it's easy to miss one key detail. The swap worked.
When Coke Classic was rereleased, sales spiked. The original flavor sold better than it had before the New Coke release.
Absence had made the heart grow fonder, and Coca-Cola had transformed the largest marketing debacle in American history into a victory. They couldn't have done better if they'd planned it, or perhaps they did plan it. It seems like too much of a coincidence that Coke would bounce back from a devastating loss purely by chance. Maybe New Coke was meant to fail.
That might sound unlikely, but there are a few possible motives like conspiracy theory. Number one, Coca-Cola knew they needed to stoke fervor in their customer base in order to win the Cola wars, and they did so with New Coke or conspiracy theory.
Number two, the corporation used the three months that original Coke was off the market to fiddle with a recipe. By the time it was rereleased, the classic flavor had been gone too long for customers to notice the slightly different taste or finally, conspiracy theory.
Number three, Coca-Cola used this opportunity to remove something harmful from the soda, like the final traces of cocaine.
That might sound unlikely, but is it any less likely than America's supermarkets and restaurants becoming fronts in a vicious cola war?
We'll find out next time when we return to the trenches. Thanks for tuning into conspiracy theories, we'll be back next time with a new episode on the Cola Wars. You can find all episodes of conspiracy theories and all other Spotify originals from podcast for free on Spotify.
Until then, remember, the truth isn't always the best story, and the official story isn't always the truth.
Conspiracy Theories is a Spotify original from past. It is executive produced by Max Cutler, Sound Design by Dick Schroder with production assistance by Ron Shapiro, Carly Madden and Travis Clark. This episode of Conspiracy Theories was written by Angela Jorgensen with writing assistants by Mackenzie Moore and Ali Whicker. Fact checking by Onya Barely and research by Bradley Klein. Conspiracy Theories Stars Molly Brandenberg and Carter Roy.