Who invented Fanta? You might have heard all sorts of stories. The 80-year history of the iconic drink might still surprise you.

While the brand’s most celebrated iteration is the iconic orange flavour, the soft drink has proved itself surprisingly adaptable over its almost 80-year history.

“Fanta is a really fun brand that Kiwis have been enjoying for years,” said Fanta Brand Manager Gina Beck. “It’s a bit of a cheeky brand. We can get away with a little bit more.”

One of the hallmarks of the brand’s popularity is its unique ability to convey light-hearted enjoyment through a variety of different flavours.

“Fruit flavours are the heart of our brand.” Brand Manager, Gina Beck

“Fanta Orange is our leading flavour and over the years we have expanded the range to include Grape, Zero, Strawberry Sherbet, Blueberry and Sour Watermelon as well as some exciting options yet to come” she said.

With a new range coming to New Zealand soon, we look back over Fanta’s surprising story.

The origins of Fanta

So let’s start this story at the beginning.

Fanta traces its origins back to World War II. At the time, the Coca-Cola business in Germany was one of the world’s most successful, second only to the company’s sales in the United States.

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In 1939 Coca-Cola had 43 bottling plants and over 600 local distributors across the country. But with the outbreak of World War II it became impossible to import the ingredients needed to formulate Coke.

To keep the operation running, the German-born head of the local operation, Max Keith, came up with a way to mix whey and apple fibre with whatever seasonal fruit was available. The result was a soda a bit like ginger ale. Max marketed this new drink under the name Fanta, a shortening of the German word ‘fantasie’.

Through the sales of Fanta, Max kept the local operation alive, despite not being able to have any contact with US headquarters. Once the war was over, Max returned the profits to the company’s headquarters in Atlanta and Coke resumed its German operations.

The modern version of Fanta

The Fanta we know now was born in Naples, Italy, where in 1955 Coca-Cola began using local citrus to formulate the now famous orange flavour.

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“Everything that we do has fruit at the heart of it,” said brand manager Josh Gonski.

Legendary designer Raymond Loewy came up with the original ‘twin peak’ logo which was one of 25 options he presented Coca-Cola. It went on sale in the United States in 1960 and by 1969 it was the biggest-selling flavour on the planet.

Currently, Fanta is the second-largest soft drink brand in the world.

First on sale in 1960, currently Fanta is the second-largest soft drink brand in the world.