|This page is about the soft drink. For the pre-War company, see Nuka-Cola Corporation.|
For a list of variants available in the games, see List of Nuka-Cola variants.
Nuka-Cola is the flagship product of the Nuka-Cola Corporation and one of the symbols of United States culture. Introduced in 2044, it rapidly dominated the soft drink market, eventually becoming the most popular soda on the market and a staple of American culture. Bottled and distributed nationwide, Nuka-Cola was available in such numbers that even two centuries after the Great War put a stop to all bottling operations, Nuka-Cola bottles can still be found in the wastelands in large quantities. In the aftermath of the Great War, Nuka-Cola bottle caps became the de facto currency in most post-War societies.
Nuka-Cola entered the beverage market in 2044, with the invention of the soft drink by John-Caleb Bradberton after two years of experimentation. It contained 120% of the recommended daily allowance of sugar, and took the United States market by storm, and within a year could be purchased nationwide. Its popularity rapidly increased and within several years it was the most popular beverage across the globe.
Additional formula research resulted in numerous flavor variations, popular additions including cherry, grape, and orange released just a few years after the drink debuted. Whenever the company encountered competition, it would attempt to deal with it aggressively, attempting to buy out competitors. Failing to do so, such as in the case of Sunset Sarsaparilla in 2058 and Vim! Pop Incorporated in 2077, the company attempted to release a competing drinks accompanied by a massive promotional campaigns.
The latest Nuka-Cola taste variant was created in October 2076, dubbed Nuka-Cola Quantum based on an isotope of strontium-90, the first cases of which hit the market in select cities on the East Coast, like Boston and Washington, D.C. before the war. In the post-War world, Nuka-Cola continued to be the "number one choice of refreshment among armageddon's survivors." Despite being warm and flat, the combination of pre-War chemicals such as potassium benzoate, citric acid, and caffeine still holds the allegiance of many and continues to addict wastelanders across the wastelands.
The unique taste of Nuka-Cola is the result of a combination of 17 fruit essences, balanced to enhance the classic cola flavor. Additives such as aspartame, phosphoric and citric acid, caramel color, caffeine, and potassium benzoate were added to carbonated water along with additional natural flavors, resulting in the product's formula. 
It was marketed as being fortified with vitamins, minerals and "health tonics." Ingredients were combined in just the right proportion, to the level that shortages of ingredients or changes to the recipe were noticed by consumers. Frequent consumption could cause addiction, which led to splitting headaches.
The iconic curved Nuka-Cola bottle was used by the company ever since its introduction in 2044. The "Dazzling Blue" color of the glass was popular with consumers. Market research in 2052 indicated that 86 out of 100 polled consumers chose blue as their favorite color. Nuka-Cola was eventually forced to replace the curved design with a rocket-shaped bottle, a result of losing a long-running litigation over patent infringement. However, consumers reacted positively to the new bottle and Nuka-Cola's sales increased.
Nuka-Cola was also distributed via soda fountains and cans. Cans were distributed in the Midwestern United States and soda fountains were installed as an amenity in Appalachia's Whitespring Resort.
The surge in popularity led to Nuka-Cola spreading nationwide. By 2067, there was a vending machine on almost every street in America, offering regular Nuka-Cola and any of its variants. Popularity of its variants strongly depended on the region, with western states strongly favoring Nuka-Cola Quartz, Victory and the root-beer flavored Wild (competing with Sunset Sarsaparilla). More urbanized eastern states favored classic tastes, such as Nuka-Grape, Nuka-Cola Orange and Nuka-Cherry.
Logotype and branding
The original branding of Nuka-Cola was very basic but extremely effective. Marketed towards the family (but largely the children), and would even be swept up in the jingoism of the American culture of the time with ads and event featuring prominent military weaponry and would even paint power armor in the branding of Nuka-Cola.
However, a lawsuit that settled against the Nuka-Cola Corporation for use of Nuka-Cola's bottle design allowed them to rebrand starting with the product itself. Nuka-Cola would take a radical change to Nuka-Cola's image to a Space Age theme with bottles taking on the shape of a rocket ship. To compliment the new rocket ship bottle, a mascot from 2062 would begin to see reuse because of her glove-like fit the Space Age theme: the Nuka-Girl in a skimpy spacesuit with her ray-gun the Thirst Zapper.
The logotype of Nuka-Cola would utilize basic brush script font in white with a unique 'N' and additional brush strokes for the hyphen and could also be underlined or stacked based on layout. Red would be the only color to compliment the white text, which both in turn compliment the black hue of Nuka-Cola. In the latter part of 2077, an orange stroke began to appear in advertisements but did not become ubiquitous because of the Great War. The use of this logotype is the most common among Nuka-Cola's products, but there were some problems with consistency in advertisements.
To differentiate variant flavors of Nuka-Cola from one another, different logos would also be developed for each flavor, but each one would complement the base Nuka-Cola logotype which was always printed in smaller type on the flavor's label. This branding consistency would also carry over to locations, such as Nuka-World which uses the same font type for its logo.
Nuka-Cola became a nationally-recognized brand through a combination of aggressive marketing and hostile corporate practices, including takeovers and undermining its competition. The preferred approach was to acquire popular local sodas and rebrand or remarket them as Nuka-Cola variants. Such was the case with two of its flagship flavors, Nuka-Cherry and Nuka-Grape, originally Merle's Very Cherry Soda and Grape-Pearl Soda.
Larger companies were typically more resilient and rebuffed Nuka-Cola's advances. One such case is Sunset Sarsaparilla, a sarsaparilla popular in the southwestern United States. When negotiations with the company fell through in 2058, Nuka-Cola attempted to compete by launching a rival soda, Nuka-Cola Wild.
Another competitor is Vim! soda, a popular Maine drink. Owned by a single family, Vim! repeatedly refused offers from Nuka-Cola. In response, the company sued Vim! for copyright infringement (over the new Vim! Quartz soda) and committed industrial espionage and sabotage of its operations, effectively immune to prosecution thanks to John-Caleb Bradberton's ties with the government and the military.
Numerous variants of the Nuka-Cola were introduced, offering different flavors and taste profiles. Joining classic Nuka-Cola, alternative fruit-flavored beverages were instant success.
Behind the scenes
- During the 2008 E3 as a promotional item, people were given a real drinkable version of Nuka-Cola. It greatly resembles the 1950s look of the Coca-Cola brand bottles.
- During 2015/2016 a real version of Nuka Cola Quantum could be purchased online and in Target stores worldwide.