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Fascinating facts about the invention of
Coca-Cola® by John S. Pemberton in 1886.

COCA-COLA®
AT A GLANCE:
The product that has given the world its best-known taste was born in Atlanta, Georgia, on May 8, 1886. Dr. John Stith Pemberton, a local pharmacist, produced the syrup for Coca-Cola®, and carried a jug of the new product down the street to Jacobs' Pharmacy, where it was sampled, pronounced "excellent" and placed on sale for five cents a glass as a soda fountain drink.
THE STORY
RELATED INFO
BOOKS
VIDEOS
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QUOTATIONS
DID YOU KNOW?
Invention: Coca-Cola in 1886
Coca-Cola® courtresy www.coca-cola.com
Definition: noun / trademark
Function: Popular carbonated soft drink colored usually with caramel and flavored usually with extracts from kola nuts and sweeteners
Trademark: U.S. issued 1893
Inventor: John Stith Pemberton
Jhon Pemberton photo courtesy www.coca-cola.com
Criteria; First to invent. Entrepreneur.
Birth: July 8, 1831 in Rome, Georgia
Death: August 16, 1888 in Columbus, Georgia
Nationality: American
Milestones:
1863 physician and chemist Dr.Pemberton develops "Pemberton's French Wine Coca,"
1886 a new formula and a new name is given to Pemberton's beverage that sells for a nickel a glass
1986 Frank M. Robinson, suggested the name and penned the now famous trademark "Coca-Cola"
1888 gradually sold portions of his business to various partners and to businessman Asa G. Candler
1891 Asa Candler achieves sole ownership of the comany, at a total cost $2,300.
1892 Mr. Candler formed a Georgia corporation named The Coca-Cola Company.
1893 The trademark "Coca-Cola," used since 1886, was registered in the USPTO on January 31
1894 the first syrup manufacturing plant outside Atlanta was opened in Dallas, Texas.
1894 in Vicksburg, Mississippi, Joe Biedenharn installed bottling machins and sold Coke by the case
1895 Coca-Cola is now drunk in every state and territory in the United States
1899 two Tennessee men secure the exclusive rights to bottle and sell Coca-Cola in the entire U.S. .
1916 Coca-Cola deserved a distinctive package, the unique contour bottle design is introduced
1919 Candler sells The Coca-Cola Company to Ernest Woodruff and an investor group for $25 million.
1922 the Company pioneered the innovative six-bottle carton
1928 Coca-Cola sales in bottles had for the first time exceeded fountain sales.
1945 "Coke®," is registered as a trademark by the USPTO
1971 "I want to buy the world a Coke" marketing campaign begins
1977 the now-familiar contour bottle shape was granted registration as a trademark
1985 a new formula for coke is introduced. Citizens of the world say no thanks!
coca-cola, coke, coca cola, john pemberton, asa chandler, invention, history, inventor of, history of, who invented, invention of, fascinating facts.
The Story:
It was a prohibition law, enacted in Atlanta in 1886, that persuaded physician and chemist Dr. John Stith Pemberton to rename and rewrite the formula for his popular nerve tonic, stimulant and headache remedy, "Pemberton's French Wine Coca," sold at that time by most, if not all, of the city's druggists.

So when the new Coca-Cola debuted later that year--still possessing "the valuable tonic and nerve stimulant properties of the coca plant and cola nuts," yet sweetened with sugar instead of wine--Pemberton advertised it not only as a "delicious, exhilarating, refreshing and invigorating" soda-fountain beverage but also as the ideal "temperance drink."

Dr. John Stith Pemberton, a local pharmacist, produced the syrup for Coca-Cola®, and carried a jug of the new product down the street to Jacobs' Pharmacy, where it was sampled, pronounced "excellent" and placed on sale for five cents a glass as a soda fountain drink. Carbonated water was teamed with the new syrup to produce a drink that was at once "Delicious and Refreshing," .Dr. Pemberton's partner and bookkeeper, Frank M. Robinson, suggested the name and penned the now famous trademark "Coca-Cola" in his unique script. The first newspaper ad for Coca-Cola soon appeared in The Atlanta Journal, inviting thirsty citizens to try "the new and popular soda fountain drink." Hand-painted oilcloth signs reading "Coca-Cola" appeared on store awnings, with the suggestion "Drink" added to inform passersby that the new beverage was for soda fountain refreshment.

Dr. Pemberton never realized the potential of the beverage he created. He gradually sold portions of his business to various partners and, just prior to his death in 1888, sold his remaining interest in Coca-Cola to Asa G. Candler. An Atlantan with great business acumen, Mr. Candler proceeded to buy additional rights and acquire complete control.

On May 1, 1889, Asa Candler published a full-page advertisement in The Atlanta Journal, proclaiming his wholesale and retail drug business as "sole proprietors of Coca-Cola ... Delicious. Refreshing. Exhilarating. Invigorating." Sole ownership, which Mr. Candler did not actually achieve until 1891, cost a total of $2,300.

By 1892, Mr. Candler's flair for merchandising had boosted sales of Coca-Cola syrup nearly tenfold. He soon liquidated his pharmaceutical business and focused his full attention on the soft drink. With his brother, John S. Candler, John Pemberton's former partner Frank Robinson and two other associates, Mr. Candler formed a Georgia corporation named The Coca-Cola Company. Initial capitalization was $100,000.

The trademark "Coca-Cola," used in the marketplace since 1886, was registered in the United States Patent Office on January 31, 1893. (Registration has been renewed periodically.) That same year the first dividend was paid; at $20 per share, it amounted to 20 percent of the book value of a share of stock.

A firm believer in advertising, Mr. Candler expanded on Dr. Pemberton's marketing efforts, distributing thousands of coupons for a complimentary glass of Coca-Cola. He promoted the product incessantly, distributing souvenir fans, calendars, clocks, urns and countless novelties, all depicting the trademark. The business continued to grow, and in 1894, the first syrup manufacturing plant outside Atlanta was opened in Dallas, Texas. Others were opened in Chicago, Illinois, and Los Angeles, California, the following year.

While Mr. Candler's efforts focused on boosting soda fountain sales, another concept was being developed that would spread the enjoyment of Coca-Cola worldwide. In 1894, in Vicksburg, Mississippi, Joseph A. Biedenharn was so impressed by the growing demand for Coca-Cola at his soda fountain that he installed bottling machinery in the rear of his store and began to sell cases of Coca-Cola to farms and lumber camps up and down the Mississippi River. He was the first bottler of Coca-Cola.

Large-scale bottling was made possible in 1899, when Benjamin F. Thomas and Joseph B. Whitehead of Chattanooga, Tennessee, secured from Mr. Candler the exclusive rights to bottle and sell Coca-Cola in practically the entire United States. With contract in hand, they joined another Chattanoogan, John T. Lupton, and began to develop what is today the worldwide Coca-Cola bottling system.

A variety of straight-sided containers was used through 1915, but as soft-drink competition intensified, so did imitation. Coca-Cola deserved a distinctive package, and in 1916, the bottlers approved the unique contour bottle designed by the Root Glass Company of Terre Haute, Indiana.

The now-familiar shape was granted registration as a trademark by the U.S. Patent Office in 1977, an honor accorded only a handful of other packages. The bottle thus joined the trademarks "Coca-Cola," registered in 1893, and "Coke®," registered in 1945.

In 1919, the Candler interests sold The Coca-Cola Company to Atlanta banker Ernest Woodruff and an investor group for $25 million. The business was reincorporated as a Delaware corporation, and 500,000 shares of its common stock were sold publicly for $40 per share.

The Company pioneered the innovative six-bottle carton in the early 1920s, for example, making it easier for the consumer to take Coca-Cola home. The simple cardboard carton, described as "a home package with a handle of invitation," became one of the industry's most powerful merchandising tools.  By the end of 1928, Coca-Cola sales in bottles had for the first time exceeded fountain sales.

During 1886, Coca Cola's first year, sales averaged a modest nine drinks per day. In 2004, over 1.3 billion beverage servings are sold each day. Although Coca-Cola® was first created in the United States, it quickly became popular wherever it went. Today, they produce nearly 400 brands in over 200 countries. More than 70 percent of their income comes from outside the U.S., making The Coca-Cola Company a truly global company.

TO LEARN MORE

RELATED INFORMATION:
John Pemberton Biography   from The Great Idea Finder
History of Snacks and Food    from The Great Idea Finder

ON THE BOOKSHELF:
Mistakes That Worked
by Charlotte Foltz Jones, John O'Brien (Illustrator) / Paperback - 48 pages (1994) / Doubleday
Recounting the fascinating stories behind the accidental inventions of forty familiar objects.
I'd Like the World to Buy a Coke: The Life and Leadership of Roberto Goizueta
by David Greising / Paperback: 304 pages / John Wiley & Sons (June 1999)

Goizueta, a chemical engineer, who first worked for Coca-Cola in Cuba. After the revolution, Goizueta came to the United States and went on to become the youngest vice-president ever at Coca-Cola.
Secret Formula
How Brilliant Marketing & Relentless Salesmanship Made Coca-Cola the Best-Known Product in the World
by Frederick Allen / Paperback / Published 1995
A fascinating portrayal not just of Coca-Cola's corporate brilliance, but of how it inveighed its way into the center of American, and world, consciousness.

For God, Country, and Coca Cola: The Definitive History of the Great American Soft Drink and the Company That Makes It
by Mark Pendergrast / Paperback - 576 pages (March 2000) / Basic Books
An objective account of Coca-Cola's history from its inception to mass production, with the attitude of de-mythologising some of the stories the company has sold to the public.
Coca-Cola Girls: An Advertising Art History
by Chris H. Beyer
/ Hardcover: 288 pages / Collectors Pr; ISBN: 1888054441; (November 1, 2000)

Page after page of pretty young women posing with the Atlanta elixir. The "Coca-Cola Girl" was the image the company preferred for pitching its potion, from the 1890s to the 1960s.

ON THE SCREEN:
Soda
DVD / 1 Volume Set / 50 Minutes / History Channel / 76311 / Less than $25.00
From sugar, water and carbon dioxide has come a $25 billion a year industry that provides some 15 billion gallons of soda a year in a kaleidoscope of flavors--including turkey-and-gravy (for Thanksgiving, of course). Inspired by miracle mineral waters, advanced by small town pharmacists, the story of soft drinks is the story of American ingenuity and competition

Coca-Cola - The History of an American Icon (2001)
Video / NTSC format (US and Canada only) / Color, B&W / ASIN: B00005M91I / Less than !3.00
The history of Coke is the history of its advertising, and this documentary draws on a rich archive of print, film, and television material to show how John Pemberton's soda recipe became such a potent symbol of American society.


ON THE WEB:

The Coca-Cola Company.
From Investor Relations to Coca-Cola Scholars, you can learn about the company behind the brands at The Coca-Cola Company site.

(URL: www.coca-cola.com)

Biography of Dr. John S. Pemberton
Article by Jack Hayes. Nation's Restaurant News. Part of Library of Congress Coca-Cola advertinsing history collection.
(URL: memory.loc.gov/ammem/ccmphtml/colainvnt.html)
Coca-Cola Youth Partnership
The mission of the Coca-Cola Youth Partnership is to empower and inspire young people to realize their potential and their dreams. We do this by providing access to programs in the areas of Achievement, the Arts and Athletics - all designed to give young people the opportunity to shine.
(URL: www.youthdevelopment.coca-cola.com/home.html)

Grave of Inventor of Coca Cola
Columbus, Georgia was the home of Dr. John S. Pemberton, a pharmacist who concocted the original (and still secret) formula for Coca-Cola syrup. He died in 1888.
(URL: www.roadsideamerica.com/attract/GACOLcoke.html)
Georgia History
Jacob's Pharmacy, in Atlanta on Peachtree Street, was where Dr. John S. Pemberton sold the first Coca-Cola, named by accountant Frank Robinson.
(URL: www.ourgeorgiahistory.com/chronpop/456)
Coca-Colanizes France
At odds were two nations: one recently battered by war and occupation, yet clinging to its venerable civilizing mission. The other recently triumphant in war and dedicated to its commercializing mission.
(URL: www.uh.edu/engines/epi1985.htm)
A Little Barn Painting History...
The Coca-Cola spencerian script, usually accompanied by the word "drink", began
popping up on the sides of buildings and barns walls all over Georgia, soon after
the Coca-Cola Company was formed.
)URL: www.icubed.com/~colagrrl/history.htm)

WORDS OF WISDOM:
"I want to buy the world a Coke"

"I'd like to build the world a home
And furnish it with love
Grow apple trees and honey bees
And snow white turtle doves

I'd like to teach the world to sing
In perfect harmony
I'd like to hold it in my arms
And keep it company

I'd like to see the world for once
All standing hand in hand
And hear them echo through the hills
For peace throughout the land."

Coca-Cola Marketing Department, 1971

DID YOU KNOW?:

  • It was a prohibition law, enacted in Atlanta in 1886, that persuaded physician and chemist Dr. John Stith Pemberton to rename and rewrite the formula for his popular nerve tonic, stimulant and headache remedy, "Pemberton's French Wine Coca," sold at that time by most, if not all, of the city's druggists.
  • Coca-Cola trucks travel over 1,000,000 miles a day to supply consumers with soft drinks. Today, the company and its bottlers rely on the largest commercial fleet in the world.
  • "Good To The Last Drop," a slogan later used by a coffee company, was first used by Coca-Cola in 1908.
  • 1943, an American soldier in Italy was sent two bottles of Coca-Cola from home. Selling chances for 25˘, he raffled them off and raised $4,000 for charity.
  • John Pemberton walked the first gallon of Coca-Cola syrup to Jacob’s Pharmacy on May 8, 1886. 
  • The first Coca-Cola vendor in the Soviet Union set up shop in the lobby of the Hotel Mezhdunarodnaya in Moscow in 1988. The Soviet Union collapsed shortly after.
  • During 1886, sales averaged nine drinks per day (total—not per person). Most recently, sales of Company products were more than 1.5 billion drinks per day (total—not per person).
  • Pemberton fought for the Confederacy in the War Between the States.
  • Dr. Pemberton sold the Coca-Cola secret formula for $1,750.
Coca-Cola and Coke are registered trademarks of The Coca-Cola Company
Reference Sources in BOLD Type. This page revised March13, 2007.
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