Mexican Villagers Were Convinced Coke And Pepsi Cleansed Their Souls
The native people of San Juan Chamula in Mexico had a long sacred tradition of drinking booze. That sounds like us just joking about how much they like partying, but we mean that literally -- they brewed a drink called pox made by fermenting sugarcane, and men drank the stuff every day as part of a religious ceremony. The pox sacrament was a local practice with a bit of Catholicism mixed in, somewhat influenced by the Eucharist. The more pox you drink, they believed, the more you purify your soul.
All who drink fermented sugarcane can relate
Then the cola distributors came to town. Drinking cola is more sacred than drinking that yucky old pox, they said. Because cola leads to more burping, and when you burp after drinking cola, you release the evil from within yourself. Again, it sounds like we're mocking them, but this is what they were actually taught to believe. Some distributors said you had to drink Coca-Cola to get these benefits, while others said Pepsi. The Chiapas people chose sides and divided into sects accordingly.
Now, we all know that chugging sweetened black acid is bad for us, so are you thinking that subbing in soda for their beverage of choice turned the locals into obese amputees with meth mouth? The truth is a little more complicated. Soda is bad for you, but alcohol is worse, so Coke and Pepsi were set to actually free everyone from a lot of health problems. The only problem is, Coke and Pepsi are also a lot more expensive than pox. Each can of soda cost the drinker a day's wages. So people who bought the stuff, coerced by fears of damnation, had no money left for food, leading to massive malnutrition.
And thanks to the loss of alcohol, everyone became uglier and worse at dancing.