There is a popular urban myth that Coca-Cola marketed themselves in China as "Bite the wax tadpole". This is technically incorrect, but came about because of a simple mistake. In Mandarin Chinese, there are roughly 200 characters that could be strung together to form similar sounds as those that are in the phrase Coca-Cola.

Before Coca-Cola started their official marketing campaign, shopkeepers would make their own signs bearing legends such as "female horse fastened with wax", "wax-flattened mare", or "bite the wax tadpole" - all simply using characters that make the sounds "Ko Ka Ko La". Coca-Cola opted out of most of the possible characters because of their meanings, including all of the characters pronounced "la". They eventually settled on "lê" (pronounced "ler"), meaning joy.

They opted in the end for the characters "K'o" (to permit, be able, may, can), "K'ou" (mouth, hole, pass, harbour), "K'o" again, "Lê" (joy, to rejoice, to laugh, to be happy). So it actually translates roughly into "to allow the mouth to be able to rejoice". This is the real thing, and Coca-Cola registered it as a trademark in 1928.

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