Coca-Cola is a word that is often regarded to be synonymous with the word “cola.” The story of this multi-billion beverage brand begins in May 1886. One morning, a 55-year old pharmacist and a former military colonel named John Pemberton walked into the then-famous Jacob’s Pharmacy in Atlanta, Georgia. His purpose for entering the pharmacy was to see the soda fountain of druggist Willis Venable, who was working as an employee in the establishment.
Once he reached the soda fountain, Pemberton poured the thick liquid that he had with him into two glasses, which represent an ounce each. He asked Venable to add 5 ounces of water and ice to each glass, and the result was a drink prepared in minutes. Both Pemberton and Venable drank it, and Venable was surprised at the sweet taste. He decided to drink some more, but in his second drink, he added soda by accident instead of water. When he realized his mistake, Pemberton thought it wouldn’t make much of a difference in flavor or taste. However, Venable was filled with wonder when he drank it this time, and he declared the soda drink to be the best beverage he had ever had.
It was arguably the most successful of the many experiments John Pemberton tested before the beginning of the Coca-Cola company. During the Civil War, Pemberton became wounded and injured, which caused him to become addicted to morphine to numb the pain that he was experiencing. However, he decided after the war that he must stop himself from taking too much morphine, or else it would kill him. To find a non-addictive alternative, he used to experiment with medicines and drinks.
His tests were primarily based on the African kola nut, the primary source of caffeine on the original Coca-Cola drink. He initially made a drink that was registered as French Wine Coca. Unfortunately, the alcoholic content in it made the drinkers drowsy and lethargic, which was the opposite of his goal to energize and excite drinkers. Eventually, he decided to remove the alcohol from the drink, and that changed was what led to the creation of the drink that became known as Coca-Cola.
The name “Coca-Cola” was suggested by Frank Robinson, the then-bookkeeper of Pemberton. Robinson was also responsible for designing the popular logo of the brand. The beverage was first sold with claims that it has the healing properties of the soda fountain of Jacob’s Pharmacy. In addition, the Coca-Cola drink was invented during the time of prohibition, where alcoholic drinks are banned for consumption. Pemberton tried to find a way to satisfy alcohol drinkers with a non-alcoholic alternative, thus influencing the invention of Coca-Cola.
Although Coca-Cola is very popular today, the drink wasn’t well-received in the beginning. One of the reasons why it flopped at the start was that the Americans were not familiar with the taste of the Kola nut, which was sourced from Africa. Pemberton invested heavily in advertisements to market his product, but it didn’t seem to be too productive to entice people to drink it. After the sudden death of Pemberton in 1888 due to stomach cancer, the Coca-Cola brand and company was completely acquired by Asa Candler, a businessman who had a share in the firm founded by Pemberton. Candler’s marketing techniques saw slow and steady growth for the business by the end of the 19th century. Then, in 1892, the “Coca-Cola Company” was successfully registered as an official business, and the next year, the trademark for the drink was registered as well.
The huge success of Coca-Cola mostly came during World War II, as the drink was often distributed among the American soldiers as part of their ration. The move was supported by military generals, including Eisenhower, who wanted his soldiers to refrain from drinking alcohol to ease their stress and worries in the war. Wherever the US army went after the Allies won the won, they brought with them the Coca-Cola brand as well. Soon, the carbonated drink entered different corners of the world. After the war, Coca-Cola went on to be a very well-known drink in various parts of the world, and it is currently regarded as one of the most popular symbols of America along with Uncle Sam, Lady Liberty, and McDonald’s.