Thursday, January 23, 2014

Of Globalization, Belize, and Coca Cola


In his book, Home Cooking in the Global Village: Caribbean Food from Buccaneers to Ecotourists, Richard Wilk focuses his discussion on how food and globalization have affected Belize throughout its history. He argues that perhaps there are two opposing factors at work in globalization, factors that are not unique to Belize. He points out that there is "a revival of ethnic pride and identity" while at the same time Belize is becoming "more and more Americanized every year" (23). Then he asks, "[w]hat if the intensification of local cultural identity, and increased adoption of foreign imported culture are really part of the same process, two sides of the same coin?" (23).

When pondering Wilk's question, I thought of Coca Cola. Wilk brings out how the logo is one of the "most prominent symbols of globalization" (5). Invented in Atlanta, Georgia, Coca Cola first came on the scene in 1886 and is now sold in every country except two. This iconic American beverage has definitely become a global phenomenon. But that doesn't mean the standard drink is the same everywhere. Almost every country has its own unique spin on the flavor. And you can sample them at The World of Coca Cola in Atlanta.

After a bit of research, I still couldn't find what Belize's specific flavor is. However, what I did find out is that Belizans mix Coca Cola with rum. Wilk mentions that a regular drink among the buccaneers was a "hot or cold punch made from mixing rum with water, sugar and some kind of flavoring" (44). Perhaps this modern Cola-rum mixture is a carry over from the drink preferences of the buccaneers and pirates who settled in Belize way on back in the 1600s.

So back to the two-sided coin globalization question.... Is there any supporting evidence to say that globalization is a combination of two opposite factors working together? Considering that Coca Cola is sold globally, that nearly every country has its own flavor, and that Belize makes a Cola-rum mixture reflecting its past, I would say yes. At first glance, "intensification of local identity, and increased adoption of foreign imported culture" may seem to contradict each other, but perhaps they complement each other more than it appears on the surface.

*All text and page references from Home Cooking in the Global Village: Caribbean Food from Buccaneers to Ecotourists are taken from the paperback English edition (2007) published by Berg*


  1. Yes, Coke is perhaps THE symbol for globalization--I didn't realize there's only two countries where you can't buy it.
    As I recall the major difference in flavor is that the Belize coke uses sugar instead of corn syrup (like the good old days here).

  2. You mention different countries having their own flavor of Coca-Cola -- or their own specific Coca-Cola products. I'm eager to hear more about this to see how individual countries have transformed Coke products for their own local palates.