Pepsi Cans and the Pledge of Allegiance Hoax

Pepsi Never Printed a Pledge Excerpt on a Soda Can

Can and glass of Pepsi cola
Fotoatelie / Getty Images

"Don't buy Pepsi in the new can!" This baseless email campaign hoax, which began circulating in August 2002, protests the omission of the words "under God" from an excerpt of the Pledge of Allegiance allegedly featured on some Pepsi cans. Some of the emails said the words from the pledge were run with an image of the Empire State Building. In fact, no such excerpt or image ever appeared on a Pepsi product.

The Patriotic Can

This inaccurate call to arms against Pepsi-Cola was a variant of an email protest originally aimed at the manufacturer of a different soft drink, Dr Pepper, in February 2002. Dr Pepper cans did carry a three-word excerpt from the Pledge of Allegiance—"One nation ... indivisible"—during a patriotically themed promotion that lasted for a few months in 2001 and 2002.

In response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks on America a few months earlier, Dr Pepper introduced a can that featured an image of the Statue of Liberty below those three words borrowed from the 31-word pledge. The idea was to honor the country's unified response to the tragic attacks. But Pepsi had never run such a promotion nor announced plans to do so. Given PepsiCo's response, it's unlikely their marketing department would ever consider such a can, as it could play into the never-ending Internet rumors.

One Message About Pepsi's 'Unpatriotic' Can

Here's one of the erroneous messages, posted on Facebook on Aug. 5, 2011:

"Don't buy the new Pepsi can coming out with pics of the Empire State building and the Pledge of Allegiance on them. Pepsi left out two little words in the pledge: "Under God." Pepsi said they didn't want to offend anyone. So if we don't buy them, they won't be offended when they don't receive our money with the words "In God We Trust" on it. How fast can you repost?"

PepsiCo's Response

PepsiCo posted this response statement in 2012 and has updated it periodically:

"You may have received an erroneous message about a 'patriotic can' that Pepsi allegedly produced with an edited version of America’s Pledge of Allegiance. The truth is, Pepsi never produced such a can. In fact, this is a hoax that has been circulating on the Internet for more than nine years. A patriotic package used in 2001 by Dr Pepper (which is not a part of PepsiCo) was inappropriately linked to Pepsi. Thanks for giving us the chance to clarify the situation and please feel free to share this message with anyone else who may have received the erroneous email."

At one point Coca-Cola also was named as the offending soda company, but, like Pepsi, Coke never had anything to do with the alleged mishandling of the Pledge of Allegiance.

Don't Repost Before Checking

While you might be stirred by patriotism or religious belief to quickly share a message about a company that apparently doesn't honor your beliefs, it's always wise to check before reposting. The company in question may not have committed the reported offense, and you will be spreading false information. Or the information might have been accurate but is out of date and the company learned its lesson and made amends years before. Unfortunately, once Internet rumors begin, they tend to crop up again and again for many years.