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Coffee has assumed a social meaning that goes far beyond the simple black brew in the cup. The worldwide coffee culture is more than a culture -- it is a cult. There are usenet newsgroups on the subject, along with innumerable sites on the World Wide Web, and Starbucks outlets populate every street corner, vying for space with other coffeehouses and chains. And after all is said and done, it's just the pit of a berry from an Ethiopian shrub.

MARK PENDERGRAST, Uncommon Grounds

Coca-Cola remains emblematic of the best and worst of America and Western civilization. The history of Coca-Cola is the often funny story of a group of men obsessed with putting a trivial soft drink "within an arm's reach of desire." But at the same time, it is a microcosm of American history. Coca-Cola grew up with the country, shaping and shaped by the times. The drink not only helped to alter consumption patterns, but attitudes toward leisure, work, advertising, sex, family life, and patriotism.

MARK PENDERGRAST, For God, Country, and Coca Cola


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