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This old Pepsi ad boasted about having more calories than a lamb chop

Today, sugary sodas are seen as bad for you. But it wasn't always that way.

In 1942, Pepsi bragged about how many calories it had in this fantastic ad, published in the New York Times and elsewhere:

A vintage Pepsi ad boasts about all its calories.

A vintage Pepsi ad boasts about all its calories.

Vintage Pepsi Ad

Check out the food energy comparisons in which Pepsi boasts it contains more calories than a lamb chop and urges consumers to choose the drink over a measly egg or tomato:

Pepsi vs. Lambchop

Pepsi vs. lamb chop.

Vintage Pepsi Ad

That's because at the time, Pepsi wasn't just Pepsi. It was "The Drink With Quick Food Energy."

Quick Food Energy!

Quick Food Energy!

Vintage Pepsi Ad

During the energy-depleting days of World War II, the idea was that Pepsi's many, many calories would make the difference in manufacturing, ensuring that "American energy will win!"

For the win: calories!

For the win: calories!

Vintage Pepsi Ad

As the ad claims, soda was the way to get through a difficult wartime effort:

A big job requires lots of soda.

A big job requires lots of soda.

Vintage Pepsi Ad

So was this an anomaly? No. It was, at the very least, part of a Pepsi campaign that lasted through 1944 and part of a culture in which calories were often marketed as a positive (like ads for Hershey chocolate bars that bragged they were "more sustaining than meat"). True Diet Pepsi didn't show up until 1964.

That said, it didn't take long for the tide to change. Less than 10 years later, the February 15, 1953, issue of the New York Times has an ad that boasts a soda was "reduced in calories":

A vintage ad promotes a new and lighter sensibility.

A vintage ad promotes a new and lighter sensibility.

TimesMachine

The breakthrough product? Pepsi-Cola, no longer a "Quick Energy Food" but now "The Light Refreshment":

A vintage Pepsi ad from 1953 shows the new virtues of the drink.

A vintage Pepsi ad from 1953 shows the new virtues of the drink.

TimesMachine

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