The Real Reason Restaurants Don't Sell Both Coke And Pepsi

When it comes to soda, we all have a favorite. Maybe your soft drink of choice is refreshing ginger ale; maybe it's fruity orange soda; or maybe it's licorice-y root beer. Whatever your poison, one thing is clear: Americans love soda. Sales data shows that while soda consumption in the U.S. is down from an all-time high in the 1990s, the average American still downs a whopping 40 gallons of the sugary stuff per year (via IBISWorld).

Two players dominate the soda game: Coke (officially called Coca-Cola) and Pepsi. As you probably are aware, the two brands are big-time rivals, with the heated competition between the brands dating back to 1898, when pharmacist Caleb Bradham came up with the recipe for Pepsi. As a cola, its formula was of course fairly similar to that of Coke, which had debuted in 1886 (via Business Insider). The rivalry between the two brands is the reason why when you dine out — whether in a sit-down restaurant or fast food joint — you'll usually find Coke or Pepsi on the menu, but never both.

It's cheaper for restaurants to sell just one of these sodas

According to Just Restaurant Supplies, eateries' one-or-the-other practice of serving Coke versus Pepsi can be traced back to the companies' rivalry. Restaurants both large and small, according to the website, make contracts with distributors of the respective beverages, who provide a discount to eateries that agree to only sell that brand's cola. So, for example, a restaurant that makes an agreement with a Coke distributor to only sell Coke and not offer Pepsi will receive the Coke at a discount. Since restaurants are businesses — and often have a razor-thin profit margin — many of them will of course take this opportunity to receive discounted products.

Those of us who have eaten in fast food spots can probably recall which ones offer Coke and which offer Pepsi. As Just Restaurant Supplies reports, fast food giants that offer Coke include McDonald's, Subway, Burger King, Wendy's, and Domino's, while Pepsi can be found in soda fountains at Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, KFC, and Arby's locations. So the next time you're dining out, be prepared to enjoy a frosty Coke or an icy Pepsi — but never both at the same time. At least you'll know why.