An Iranian drinks a Coca-Cola and smokes a Marlboro cigarette at a cafe in downtown Tehran, Iran, Wednesday, July 10, 2019. (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi)
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At a trendy restaurant in Iran's capital, customers sip Coca-Cola through bending straws as waiters bring caddies to their tables full of Heinz ketchup and two types of Tabasco sauce. Welcome to dining in the Islamic Republic, brought to you by America. Whether at upscale restaurants or corner stores, American brands like Coca-Cola and Pepsi can be seen throughout Iran despite the heightened tensions between the two countries.U.S. sanctions have taken a heavy toll on oil and other major industries in the country of 80 million people, but Western food, movies, music and clothing are still widely available. Both brands are bottled by local firms, Khoshgovar Mashhad Co. for Coca-Cola and Sasan Co. and Neysun Shargh Co. for Pepsi, which are affiliated with the Imam Reza Foundation, an economic conglomerate tied to the country's Shiite theocracy.Coca-Cola held a 28 percent market share in Iran, according to a 2016 report by research firm Euromonitor International, while Pepsi had around 20 percent.Asked about Coca-Cola sales in Iran, the Atlanta-based company said it had sold concentrate to Iran for over 20 years in line with U.S. sanctions policies.
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