TikTok Is Speechless Over Pepsi's Minimum Wage Origin Story

Editor's note: The video featured in this article contains explicit language.

The Pepsi brand is never far from controversy: It's no wonder that it's perpetually living in Coca Cola's shadow. America's second favorite cola-flavored beverage has made a lot of missteps over the years and upset a lot of people, from numerous failed Pepsi products like the colorless Crystal Pepsi to a 1989 Madonna ad that angered the Vatican. That's not to mention the time that Pepsi was accused of trivializing Black Lives Matter due to another controversial advertisement that involved Kendall Jenner handing a Pepsi can to a police officer, which was eventually pulled from broadcast.

Now, another Pepsi-themed controversy is making waves on TikTok and shining a light on even more of the company's questionable practices. This time, it concerns the brand's rivalry with Coca Cola. The video also addresses the reason that some fast food outlets pay their employees pitiful wages. Be warned, though: The person making the video does not hold back.

What is the origin story?


I feel like this should be common knowledge. #pearlmania500 #AXERatioChallenge #rant #mexicanpizzaisback

♬ original sound – Alex Pearlman

In the viral video, which has over 2.8 million likes on TikTok, user Alex Pearlman (@pearlmania500) tells the story of how Pepsi's competition with Coca Cola led to a range of consequences: First up is the existence of combination Taco Bell-Pizza Huts (and KFCs). Alex explained that Pepsi's slogan was initially "Is Pepsi okay?" because most people ordered Coca Cola. Pepsi realized that it was simpler to purchase fast food chains rather than to compete with Coca Cola. 

Alex then explains that these chains went on to become part of Yum!Brands, which then used the money saved by running combined restaurants to avoid paying its workers fairly. Pepsi used its savings to lobby federal and state governments to ensure that the minimum wage was as low as possible. This way, Pepsi ensured that it could pay people low wages and continue making a significant amount of money. 

Pay up, Yum! Brands

TikTok users were rightfully shocked by this information. One user noted that Pepsi is clearly not great. Another user noted that it was quite overwhelming to find out all this information about Pepsi. Others appreciated the comedic value in Alex's delivery of what is otherwise a difficult subject. 

Regardless of whether this chain of events is true and can be fully attributed to Pepsi, we think Taco Bell, KFC, Pizza Hut, and other fast food outlets need to pay their workers a living wage. Alex reminds viewers that the minimum wage in his home state of Pennsylvania is just a pitiful $7.25 an hour. It seems that Taco Bell is doing slightly better at exceeding this, as according to Restaurant Dive, it pledged to raise its minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2024, but there's still a long way to go. Do better, Yum!Brands. And do better, America.