Coca-Cola antiquity started in 1886 when the inquisitiveness of an Atlanta pharmacist, Dr. John S. Pemberton, led him to make a idiosyncratic tasting soft drink that could be sold at soda fountains. He created a flavored syrup, took it to his area pharmacy, where it was mixed with carbonated water and deemed “excellent” by those who tested it. Dr. Pemberton’s partner and bookkeeper, Frank M. Robinson, is credited with naming the beverage “Coca‑Cola” as well as designing the trademarked, distinct script, still graces the cans and bottles.
Among the biggest tests for early bottlers, were reproductions of the beverage by competitors coupled with a lack of packaging reliability among the 1,000 bottling plants at the time. The bottlers agreed that a distinctive beverage required a standard and distinctive bottle, and in 1916, the bottlers accepted the unique contour bottle. The new Coca‑Cola bottle was so characteristic it could be predictable in the dark and it effectively set the brand apart from competition. The contoured Coca‑Cola bottle was trademarked in 1977. Over the years, the Coca‑Cola bottle has been inspiration for artists across the globe — a sampling of which can be viewed at World of Coca‑Cola in Atlanta.
The initial marketing energies in Coca‑Cola history were implemented through coupons promoting free samples of the beverage. Considered an innovative tactic back in 1887, couponing was followed by newspaper advertising and the distribution of promotional items bearing the Coca‑Cola script to contributing pharmacies.
Source: World Of Coca Cola
John Stith Pemberton (1831-1888) Article
King, Monroe M. “John Stith Pemberton (1831-1888).” New Georgia Encyclopedia. 26 June 2019. Web. 02 July 2019.y
John Stith Pemberton was the inventor of the Coca-Cola beverage. In his day Pemberton was a most valued member of the state’s medical establishment, but his gift was for medical chemistry rather than regular medicine. He was a practical pharmacist and chemist of great skill, active all his life in medical reform, and a respected businessman. His most lasting accomplishments involve his laboratories, which are still in operation more than 125 years later as part of the Georgia Department of Agriculture. Transformed into the state’s first testing labs and staffed with Pemberton’s hand-selected employees, these labs almost single-handedly eradicated the sale of fraudulent agricultural chemicals in the state and ensured successful prosecution of those who tried to sell them.
Early Life and Career
Born on January 8, 1831, in Knoxville, in Crawford County, Pemberton grew up and joined the local schools in Rome, where his family lived for almost thirty years. He studied medicine and pharmacy at the Reform Medical College of Georgia in Macon, and in 1850, at the age of nineteen, he was licensed to practice on Thomsonian or botanic principles (such practitioners relied heavily on herbal remedies and on purifying the body of toxins, and they were viewed with doubt by the general public). He practiced medicine and surgery first in Rome and its vicinities and then in Columbus, where in 1855 he established a wholesale-retail drug business concentrating in materia medica (substances used in the composition of medical remedies). Some time before the Civil War (1861-65), he acquired a graduate degree in pharmacy, but the exact date and place are unknown.
The analytical and manufacturing laboratories of J. S. Pemberton and Company of Columbus were exclusive in the South. “We are direct importers,” the company claimed, “manufacturing all the pharmaceutical and chemical preparations used in the arts and sciences.” Established in 1860 and outfitted with some $35,000 worth of the newest and most improved equipment—some of it designed and patented by the company—it was “a magnificent establishment,” an enthusiastic reporter from the Atlanta Constitution proclaimed in 1869 when the labs were moved to Atlanta, “one of the most splendid Chemical Laboratories that there is in the country.”
Pemberton served with distinction as a lieutenant colonel in the Third Georgia Cavalry Battalion during the Civil War and was almost killed in the fighting at Columbus in April 1865. In 1869 he became a principal partner in the firm of Pemberton, Wilson, Taylor and Company, which was based in Atlanta, where he moved in 1870. Two years later he became a trustee of the Atlanta Medical College (later Emory University School of Medicine) and established a business in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where his own brands of pharmaceuticals were manufactured on a large scale. He also served for six years (1881-87) on the first state examining board that licensed pharmacists in Georgia.
Pemberton was “the most noted physician Atlanta ever had,” according to the Atlanta newspapers, but he is best known for his expertise in the laboratory, where he perfected the formula for Coca-Cola.
The Origin of Coca-Cola
A few years before Coca-Cola started its remarkable rise to international acclaim, a drink known as Pemberton’s French Wine Coca was extremely popular in Atlanta. Its celebrity spread throughout the Southeast, and the demand for the tasty beverage was high.
In 1885 a reporter from the Atlanta Journal approached the creator of French Wine Coca and asked him for a detailed analysis of the new drink. Pemberton replied, “It is composed of an extract from the leaf of Peruvian Coca, the purest wine, and the Kola nut. It is the most excellent of all tonics, assisting digestion, imparting energy to the organs of respiration, and strengthening the muscular and nervous systems.” He explained that South American Indians considered the coca plant a sacred herb and praised its beneficial effects on the mind and body. With the aid of the coca plant, the Indians had performed “astonishing” feats, he said, “without fatigue.”
Pemberton then admitted that his coca and kola beverage was based on Vin Mariani, a French formula perfected by Mariani and Company of Paris, which since 1863 had been the world’s only standard preparation of erythroxylon coca.
In 1886 the city of Atlanta announced prohibition, which, among other things, prohibited the sale of wine. Pemberton decided to make another version of his popular drink. He dropped the reference to wine in the name of the beverage, substituted sugar syrup for the wine, and coined the name “Coca-Cola” to identify his formula. Henceforth, he would call Coca-Cola the ideal temperance drink, both on the label and in advertising.
Understanding that he needed financial backing to market this nonalcoholic version of French Wine Coca on a large scale, Pemberton formed a company for that purpose. He put his son Charles in charge of manufacturing Coca-Cola, and after prohibition ended in 1887, he again produced French Wine Coca. He announced that he would retire from active practice, sell his drugstores in Atlanta and elsewhere in the state, and devote all his time to promoting his beverages. Meanwhile, a group of businessmen responded to Pemberton’s appeal to finance the new Coca-Cola Company. He was to receive as royalty of five cents for each gallon of Coca-Cola sold.
It was Pemberton’s practice to organize a business as a copartnership and then convert it into a corporation. In March 1888, after being in business for eight months as a copartner, he filed the petition for incorporation of the first Coca-Cola Company in the Fulton County Superior Court. Five months later, on August 16, 1888, he died at his home in Atlanta.
On the day of Pemberton’s funeral, Atlanta druggists closed their stores and attended the services en masse as a acknowledgement of respect. On that day, not one drop of Coca-Cola was dispensed in the entire city. At sunup the following day, a special train carried his body to Columbus, where a large group of friends, relatives, and admirers laid him to rest. The Atlanta newspapers called him “the oldest druggist of Atlanta and one of her best known citizens.”
Constance L. Hays, The Real Thing: Truth and Power at the Coca-Cola Company (New York: Random House, 2004).
Mark Pendergrast, For God, Country, and Coca-Cola: The Definitive History of the Great American Soft Drink and the Company That Makes It, 3d ed. (New York: Basic Books, 2013).
From Addiction To Invention To Demise
Relying on the knowledge he had amassed over his professional years, John Pemberton set out in search of a cure for his addiction. He began experimenting with different herbs and plants, including the coca leaf, which is the raw material used in the production of cocaine.
By mixing coca leaves, wine, and kola nuts (in case that cocaine didn’t offer a big enough caffeine kick), Pemberton invented his first beverage – the Pemberton’s French Wine Coca. The drink, advertised as an anti-depressant, a painkiller, and an all-around aphrodisiac, worked to relieve the ails of Pemberton’s morphine addiction and was sold to the public, where it became almost immediate success.
Twenty years after its formulation, Atlanta County in Georgia, where Pemberton lived and established his business enterprise, announced that it was prohibiting the production, selling, or buying of alcohol. With the looming threat of nationwide Prohibition, removed the alcoholic ingredient from the drink’s recipe in 1886 and replaced the wine with a sugary syrup.
Working with his longtime friend Willis E. Venable, the duo rebranded the item Coca-Cola, which they intended to be used for medical purposes had they not accidentally added carbonated water to the mixture. Instead of scrapping the idea altogether, they marketed it as a refreshing soft drink.
While Coke would go on to become a global success, Pemberton didn’t fare so well. As there is no known cure for addiction, his morphine morphine habit returned, an addiction that cost him his life’s savings as well as his health. Additionally, the sudden rebranding of the medicinal elixir as a refreshment beverage didn’t initially went well. This forced Pemberton to sell the rights to his invention to a number of business partners just to make ends meet.
John Pemberton died of stomach cancer in 1888, broke and in the grips of addiction. He left his fortune, which at that time consisted only of his remaining shares in the Coca-Cola company, to his only son, Charles. Charles, a morphine addict himself, would die a mere six years after his father. Both Pembertons missed out on the tremendous popularity and success Coca-Cola would see the world over, by several years.
Source: The History Daily,The Tragic Story Behind The Invention Of Coca-Cola 1800s | April 28, 2017