Prior to the outbreak of the second world war, Coca-Cola’s only unqualified success on the international scene was its bottling operations in Nazi Germany. Sales records were being set year after year in that venue, and by 1939 Coca-Cola had 43 bottling plants and more than 600 local distributors in that country.
Fanta originated as a result of difficulties importing Coca-Cola syrup into Nazi Germany during World War II due to a trade embargo.To circumvent this, Max Keith, the head of Coca-Cola Deutschland (Coca-Cola GmbH) during the war, decided to create a new product for the German market, using only ingredients available in Germany at the time, including whey and apple pomace – the “leftovers of leftovers”, as Keith later recalled. The name was the result of a brief brainstorming session, which started with Keith’s exhorting his team to “use their imagination” (Fantasie in German), to which one of his salesmen, Joe Knipp, immediately retorted “Fanta!”
The plant was effectively cut off from Coca-Cola headquarters during the war. After the war, the Coca-Cola corporation regained control of the plant, formula, and the trademarks to the new Fanta product—as well as the plant profits made during the war.
During the war the Dutch Coca-Cola plant in Amsterdam (N.V. Nederlandsche Coca-Cola Maatschappij) suffered the same difficulties as the German Coca-Cola plant. Max Keith therefore also put the Fanta brand at the disposal of the Dutch Coca-Cola plant, of which he had been appointed the official Verwalter (caretaker). Dutch Fanta had a completely different recipe from German Fanta, elderberries being one of the main ingredients.
Fanta production was discontinued when the German and Dutch Coca-Cola branches were reunited with their parent company. Following the launch of several drinks by the Pepsi corporation in the 1950s, Coca-Cola competed by relaunching Fanta in 1955. The drink was heavily marketed in Europe, Asia, Africa and South America.