C is for Cockta
At first it was somewhat slim pickings for the letter C. Consulting my Slovenian-English dictionary, the C-section was lean.
I shortlisted Cerkev (Church) – as there are many pretty ones atop green hills all over Slovenia, Cesta (Road) – as I do enjoy driving the quiet winding mountain roads here, and Copati (Slippers) – the Japanese-like love of wearing slippers AT ALL TIMES when in your home is quite a lovely quirk; slippers are provided for guests, and you better damn-well wear them or else face Slovenian Slipper Wrath from your host.
Then I remembered Cockta. Invented in the 1950s, it’s a Slovenian brand (though now Croatian owned much to Slovenians’ lament) and since I first visited Slovenia in 2007, Cockta has been a reliable source of schoolboy humour.
Originally deemed ‘Yugoslavian Coke’, it shares the colour of its American rival, though unlike coke it is caffeine-free and its flavour is also quite different “coming from 11 of the finest herbal extracts, which are handpicked, carefully inspected and blended into a unique herb cocktail.”
Above: early TV advert for Cockta
The official Cockta website describes Cockta through the ages, and has some amusing claims:
“From Sputnik to Moon landings, from champions to revolutionaries, from cosy traditions to great changes, Cockta has not just been there – it has made history.”
In the 1960s, Cockta apparently was “the official beverage of the sixties”. I’m unsure which official body made this so, but it’s quite possible that the Yugoslavian government did actually make Cockta its official drink during this decade.
The 1970s was apparently the decade of “Cockta-ing the world”:
“The Beatles disbanded, the Moon was conquered, the rock hardened, the world toughened. The seventies were strange times, and Cockta was both nostalgic, contemporary and futuristic.”
The 1980s was apparently the decade of “Cockta mania”:
“In the decade of one-hit wonders, Cockta was the classic, in the midst of bizarre clothes and hairstyles, Cockta was the ultimate cool, and on the dancefloor Cockta had the best moves.”
I must point out that if a bottle of soft drink had the best moves on the dancefloor, it does not say much for Yugoslavians’ abilities to shake their booties in the night party discotheque clubs of the ‘80s.
Perhaps realising that dancing was not its forte, Cockta got serious in the 1990s, getting involved in politics and apparently playing some sort of role in the dissolution of the Former Yugoslavia:
“Tear down this wall and get me a Cockta! Everything changed in the nineties, from the basic economy to maps. It was a time of exhilaration, and we had our own Ode to Joy in our hands: a cold, perfect Cockta.”
Moving into the millennium, Cockta became “a tasteful guide to the things to come, a fizzy reassurance of our choices. The future is cool, and so is Cockta.”
And finally, bringing us to the year 2018, the big news for Cockta lovers is the release of ‘Cockta Original’ along with a label re-design.
So there you have it; Slovenia’s answer to Coca-Cola seems to have become a notable part of Slovenian identity, having played a role in Yugoslavian dance culture, geo-politics and youth fashion.
Cockta must also be credited with providing English-speaking visitors with a wealth of crude punning material, the likes of which we have not seen since the Americans invented ‘fanny packs’.
And it tastes pretty good too.
Read more: Reasons Why I Live in Slovenia A-Ž