On November 16, 1972, US company “PepsiCo” struck a barter deal with the government of the Soviet Union, in which PepsiCo was granted the exclusive export and Western marketing rights to Stolichnaya vodka in exchange for importing and Soviet marketing of Pepsi-Cola. This historical exchange led to Pepsi-Cola being the first foreign product legally approved to be sold in the USSR.
The history of Pepsi-Cola in Russia and the Soviet Union dates back to 1959 when, during the US national trade show in Moscow, Nikita Khrushchev first tried the American drink. The press went insane with photographs of the Soviet leader drinking Pepsi, and papers around the globe displayed headlines like “Khrushchev wants to be more sociable” (the slogan for Pepsi in those years was “Be Sociable, Have a Pepsi!”). Nevertheless, at the peak of the Cold War, this picture became a symbol of the warming relationships of the two superpowers.
The first Pepsi bottling factory was opened in Novorossiysk in 1974. Over the next several years more than twenty state-owned plants were permitted to produce the Pepsi-Cola brand in the Soviet Union. In 1986, PepsiCo was the official sponsor of the Goodwill Games in Moscow and became the first Western firm to have placed advertisements on Soviet television.
Prior to Pepsi being sold in the USSR, some of the only other carbonated drinks available were Baikal and Tarhun. The few people who had ever tried Pepsi-Cola prior to it being produced in the USSR were the ones who had traveled overseas. Some would even bring back an empty can and place it on display in their leaving rooms.
However, Pepsi soon became an icon for Soviet teenagers and adults, gradually entrenching itself in everyday life and pushing out all other soft drinks. The curious shape of the bottle and its unusual taste was met with wide demand from the Soviet public. The fizzy beverage was widely available across the country for only 45 kopeks.