Orangina is a beverage which is basically a sweet carbonated orange juice. It tastes much more like real oranges than orange sodas such as Fanta or Minute Maid.

Orangina was invented in 1936 by a Spanish pharmacist, it was introduced the same year at a fair in Marseille, France under the name 'Narangina'. It was sold in the signature small round bottles which are still used today. Eventually the name was Frenchified into 'Orangina' and in 1951 Jean-Claude Beton created the CFPO (Compagnie Française des Produits Orangina) in Boufarik, Algeria. Orangina became a very popular soft drink in Southern France, and eventually spread throughout the country. In 1962, Algeria gained its independence from France, and the company relocated to Marseille. In the next two decades, the CFPO spent insane ammounts of money on advertising, and became famous for its television commercials. In 1977 Orangina was sold for the first time in cans.

In 1984, CFPO was bought by the Pernod-Ricard group, which sells pastis and other alcoholic beverages. In 1985 Orangina was introduced in the USA. While it was never very successful in the states, it can still be found in some large supermarkets. In 1986, the 50th anniversary of Orangina was celebrated with a parade on the Champs-Elysées in Paris. The festivities included a 23 meter tall bottle of Orangina which weighed 65 tons. In 1988, Orangina Light was introduced, a diet version of the soft drink.

By the 1990's, Orangina had become the Coca-Cola of France, and was responsible for distributing many other soft drinks including Pepsi and 7-Up. In 1996, my personal favorite 'Orangina Rouge' was introduced, made of red oranges and guarana. The Coca-Cola company was worried by Orangina's stranglehold on the French market and began trying to buy the Orangina company in 1997. The purchase was delayed for 2 years because of worries by French authorities of a monopoly. In 1999 Coca-Cola was finally allowed to acquire Orangina from Pernod-Ricard for $759 million USD agreeing not to take full control of the company for 10 years, allowing rivals such as Pepsi adequate time to establish alternate distribution networks in France.

What the future may hold for Orangina in the hands of the Coca-Cola Company is still unclear. To me, one of the most intersting things about Orangina is the fact that despite its huge success in France, Orangina was never able to gain popularity in any foreign markets.

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