Wednesday, May 8, 2013

This Day in History: May 8, 1886: Pharmacist first sells a carbonated beverage named "Coca-Cola" as medicine


The prototype Coca-Cola recipe was formulated at the Eagle Drug and Chemical Company, a drugstore in Columbus, Georgia, by John Pemberton, originally as a coca wine called Pemberton's French Wine Coca.[4][5] He may have been inspired by the formidable success of Vin Mariani, a European coca wine.[6]
In 1886, when Atlanta and Fulton County passed prohibition legislation, Pemberton responded by developing Coca-Cola, essentially a nonalcoholic version of French Wine Coca.[7] The first sales were at Jacob's Pharmacy in Atlanta, Georgia, on May 8, 1886.[8] It was initially sold as a patent medicine for five cents[9] a glass at soda fountains, which were popular in the United States at the time due to the belief that carbonated water was good for the health.[10] Pemberton claimed Coca-Cola cured many diseases, including morphine addiction, dyspepsia, neurasthenia, headache, and impotence. Pemberton ran the first advertisement for the beverage on May 29 of the same year in the Atlanta Journal.[11]

By 1888, three versions of Coca-Cola – sold by three separate businesses – were on the market. A copartnership had been formed on January 14, 1888 between Pemberton and four Atlanta businessmen: J.C. Mayfield, A.O. Murphey; C.O. Mullahy and E.H. Bloodworth. Not codified by any signed document, a verbal statement given by Asa Candler years later asserted under testimony that he had acquired a stake in Pemberton's company as early as 1887.[12]

Asa Candler, however, eventually took on a more formal position by being part of the Coca-Cola Company incorporation filed in the Fulton County Superior Court on March 24, 1888. This action included Charley Pemberton and Woolfolk Walker, along with the latter's sister, Margaret Dozier. The four made up the original shareholders for "Coca-Cola Company," a Georgia corporation. All parties held copies of the Coca-Cola recipe and could continue to use the formula separate of each other.

Pemberton, though, had declared that the name "Coca-Cola" belonged solely to his son Charley. The situation was quite agitating to both Candler and Walker, and quickly placed the two at odds with Charley Pemberton. What further caused friction over this issue was that John Pemberton variously forgot he had actually signed over the sole rights to the "Coca-Cola" name to his son Charley earlier. Pemberton's ongoing health problems, compounded by his morphine addiction brought about from his old Civil War injury, made the situation difficult.

Charley Pemberton's record of control over the "Coca-Cola" name was the underlying factor that allowed for him to participate as a major shareholder in the March 1888 Coca-Cola Company incorporation filing made in his father's place.[13] More so for Candler especially, Charley's position holding exclusive control over the "Coca Cola" name continued to be a thorn in his side.

Asa Candler's oldest son, Charles Howard Candler, authored a book in 1950 published by Emory University. In this definitive biography about his father, Candler specifically states: "..., on April 14, 1888, the young druggist [Asa Griggs Candler] purchased a one-third interest in the formula of an almost completely unknown proprietary elixir known as Coca-Cola."[14]

The deal was actually between John Pemberton's son Charley and Walker, Candler & Co. - with John Pemberton acting as cosigner for his son. For $50 down and $500 in 30 days, Walker, Candler & Co. obtained all of the one-third interest in the Coca-Cola Company that Charley held, all while Charley still held on to the name. After the April 14th deal, on April 17, 1888, one-half of the Walker/Dozier interest shares were acquired by Candler for an additional $750.[15]

Charles Howard Candler's statement that April 14, 1888 was the date his father secured a "one-third interest in the formula" held by Charley Pemberton for the then obscure Coca-Cola elixir, none-the-less confirms this event was a major turning point for Asa Candler and his interests in Coca-Cola. This, too, was a most auspicious occasion that Asa Candler would have especially wanted to preserve in an 'official' photograph. By this time the "Coca-Cola" syrup-making apparatus had already been moved from Joe Jacob's pharmacy to the basement of Candler's larger 47 Peachtree Street location, where the drink's ever increasing syrup-bottling demands could be better handled.

In 1910, Asa Candler had ordered all corporate documents pertaining to the first Coca-Cola Company burned.[16] An original 1888 photograph shows the very beginnings of the Coca Cola Company, and formerly was the personal property of Asa Griggs Candler.

In 1914, Margaret Dozier, as co-owner of the original Coca-Cola Company in 1888, brazenly came forward to claim her signature on the 1888 Coca-Cola Company bill of sale had been forged. Subsequent analysis of certain similar transfer documents had also indicated John Pemberton's signature was most likely a forgery, as well, which some accounts claim was precipitated by his son Charley.[17]

In 1892, Candler set out to incorporate a second company; "The Coca-Cola Company" (the current corporation). When Candler had the earliest records of the "Coca-Cola Company" burned in 1910, the action was claimed to have been made during a move to new corporation offices around this time.[18]


The loss of the early corporate records further obscured the 1888 corporation's legal origins. Only one sole original "ASA G. CANDLER & CO." photograph from 1888 remains, and that example Candler at one time kept at his private home outside of Atlanta.

After Candler had gained a better foothold of Coca-Cola in April 1888, he nevertheless was forced to sell the beverage he produced with the recipe he had under the names "Yum Yum" and "Koke". This was while Charley Pemberton was selling the elixir, although a cruder mixture, under the name "Coca-Cola", all with his father's blessing. After both names failed to catch on for Candler, by the summer of 1888, the Atlanta pharmacist was quite anxious to establish a firmer legal claim to Coca-Cola, and hoped he could force his two competitors, Walker and Dozier, completely out of the business, as well.[19]

When Dr. John Stith Pemberton suddenly died on August 16, 1888, Asa G. Candler now sought to move swiftly forward to attain his vision of taking full control of the whole Coca-Cola operation.

Charley Pemberton, an alcoholic, was the one obstacle who unnerved Asa Candler more than anyone else. Candler is said to have quickly maneuvered to purchase the exclusive rights to the name "Coca-Cola" from Pemberton's son Charley right after Dr. Pemberton's death. One of several stories was that Candler bought the title to the name from Charley's mother for $300; approaching her at Dr. Pemberton's funeral. Eventually, Charley Pemberton was found on June 23, 1894, unconscious, with a stick of opium by his side. Ten days later, Charley died at Atlanta's Grady Hospital at the age of 40.[20]

In Charles Howard Candler's 1950 book about his father, he stated: "On August 30th {1888}, he {Asa Candler} became sole proprietor of Coca-Cola, a fact which was stated on letterheads, invoice blanks and advertising copy."[21]


With this action on August 30, 1888, Candler's sole control became technically all true. Candler had negotiated with Margaret Dozier and her brother Woolfolk Walker a full payment amounting to $1,000, which all agreed Candler could pay off with a series of notes over a specified time span. By May 1, 1889, Candler was now claiming full ownership of the Coca-Cola beverage, with a total investment outlay by Candler for the drink enterprise over the years amounting to $2,300.[22]

According to collected general histories about Coca-Cola, one early account claimed that Coca-Cola was sold in bottles for the first time on March 12, 1894. The event witnessing the first commercial sale of bottled Coca-Cola however actually took place a few years before, in early 1891. The basic concept of bottling Coca-Cola was brainstormed by Asa Candler in late 1890. 

Asa Candler first made the drink elixir available in bottles available at his Asa G. Candler & Co., 47 Peachtree Street, Atlanta, Georgia pharmacy location, with the first ever advertisements documenting bottled Coca-Cola found in Grier's Almanac issued in January 1891. Large bottles of Coca-Cola were "Sold by Druggists and Grocers at 25 Cents per Bottle." The drink also contained the coca-leaf drug extract, which was cited in a banner advertisement atop one of the calendar pages in the 1891 Grier's Almanac. Asa Candler had proclaimed himself "sole proprietor" by this time, after having paid off the financial notes due on the outstanding shares of the original Coca-Cola Company held by Woolfolk Walker and Margaret Dozier.
The first bottling of Coca-Cola outside of Atlanta occurred in Vicksburg, Mississippi, at the Biedenharn Candy Company in 1891. The proprietor of the bottling works was Joseph A. Biedenharn. The original bottles were Biedenharn bottles, very different from the much later hobble-skirt design of 1915 now so familiar.

Although Asa Candler had spearheaded bottling Coca-Cola as early as late 1890, he never-the-less was tentative about bottling the drink. At the time, to get the bottled drink to market into all sectors of the United States, Candler reasoned using trains and horse-drawn wagons was not cost productive - unaware that the gas motor automobile and what came to be known as motor trucks - was just around the corner. In his world present in the 1890s, keeping distribution local was the key factor Candler understood. For Candler, national distribution of bottled Coca-Cola was too big a jump for his still, relatively small company.

It was then a few years later that two entrepreneurs from Chattanooga, Tennessee, namely; Benjamin F. Thomas and Joseph B. Whitehead, proposed the idea of bottling and were so persuasive that Candler signed a contract giving them control of the procedure for only one dollar. Candler never collected his dollar, but in 1899, Chattanooga became the site of the first Coca-Cola bottling company. Candler remained very content just selling his company's syrup. [23] The loosely termed contract proved to be problematic for The Coca-Cola Company for decades to come. Legal matters were not helped by the decision of the bottlers to subcontract to other companies, effectively becoming parent bottlers.[24]

The first outdoor wall advertisement that promoted the Coca-Cola drink was painted in 1894. in Cartersville, Georgia.[25] Coke concentrate, or Coke syrup, was and is sold separately at pharmacies in small quantities, as an over-the-counter remedy for nausea or mildly upset stomach.

20th century landmarks

By the time of its 50th anniversary, the soft drink had reached the status of a national icon in the USA. In 1935, it was certified kosher by Atlanta Rabbi Tobias Geffen, after the company made minor changes in the sourcing of some ingredients.[26]

The longest running commercial Coca-Cola soda fountain anywhere was Atlanta's Fleeman's Pharmacy, which first opened its doors in 1914.[27] Jack Fleeman took over the pharmacy from his father and ran it till 1995; closing it after 81 years.[28]

 On July 12, 1944, the one-billionth gallon of Coca-Cola syrup was manufactured by The Coca-Cola Company.

Cans of Coke first appeared in 1955.[29]

New Coke

On April 23, 1985, Coca-Cola, amid much publicity, attempted to change the formula of the drink with "New Coke". Follow-up taste tests revealed most consumers preferred the taste of New Coke to both Coke and Pepsi, but Coca-Cola management was unprepared for the public's nostalgia for the old drink, leading to a backlash. The company gave in to protests and returned to a variation of the old formula using high fructose corn syrup instead of cane sugar as the main sweetener, under the name Coca-Cola Classic, on July 10, 1985.

21st century

On July 5, 2005, it was revealed that Coca-Cola would resume operations in Iraq for the first time since the Arab League boycotted the company in 1968.[30]


In April 2007, in Canada, the name "Coca-Cola Classic" was changed back to "Coca-Cola". The word "Classic" was removed because "New Coke" was no longer in production, eliminating the need to differentiate between the two.[31] The formula remained unchanged.

In January 2009, Coca-Cola stopped printing the word "Classic" on the labels of 16-US-fluid-ounce (470 ml) bottles sold in parts of the southeastern United States.[32] The change is part of a larger strategy to rejuvenate the product's image.[32] The word "Classic" was removed from all Coca-Cola products by 2011.
In November 2009, due to a dispute over wholesale prices of Coca-Cola products, Costco stopped restocking its shelves with Coke and Diet Coke. However, some Costco locations (such as the ones in Tucson, Arizona), sell imported Coca-Cola from Mexico.[33]Coca-Cola introduced the 7.5-ounce mini-can in 2009, and on September 22, 2011, the company announced price reductions, asking retailers to sell eight-packs for $2.99. That same day, Coca-Cola announced the 12.5-ounce bottle, to sell for 89 cents. A 16-ounce bottle has sold well at 99 cents since being re-introduced, but the price was going up to $1.19.[34]

In 2012, Coca-Cola would resume business in Myanmar after 60 years of absence due to U.S.-imposed investment sanctions against the country.[35][36] Coca-Cola with its partners is to invest USD 5 billion in its operations in India by 2020.[37]

Use of stimulants in formula

When launched, Coca-Cola's two key ingredients were cocaine and caffeine. The cocaine was derived from the coca leaf and the caffeine from kola nut, leading to the name Coca-Cola (the "K" in Kola was replaced with a "C" for marketing purposes).[38][39]

Coca – cocaine

Pemberton called for five ounces of coca leaf per gallon of syrup, a significant dose; in 1891, Candler claimed his formula (altered extensively from Pemberton's original) contained only a tenth of this amount. Coca-Cola once contained an estimated nine milligrams of cocaine per glass. In 1903, it was removed.[40]
After 1904, instead of using fresh leaves, Coca-Cola started using "spent" leaves – the leftovers of the cocaine-extraction process with trace levels of cocaine.[41] Coca-Cola now uses a cocaine-free coca leaf extract prepared at a Stepan Company plant in Maywood, New Jersey.

In the United States, the Stepan Company is the only manufacturing plant authorized by the Federal Government to import and process the coca plant,[42] which it obtains mainly from Peru and, to a lesser extent, Bolivia. Besides producing the coca flavoring agent for Coca-Cola, the Stepan Company extracts cocaine from the coca leaves, which it sells to Mallinckrodt, a St. Louis, Missouri, pharmaceutical manufacturer that is the only company in the United States licensed to purify cocaine for medicinal use.[43]

Kola nuts – caffeine

Kola nuts act as a flavoring and the source of caffeine in Coca-Cola. In Britain, for example, the ingredient label states "Flavourings (Including Caffeine)."[44] Kola nuts contain about 2.0 to 3.5% caffeine, are of bitter flavor and are commonly used in cola soft drinks. In 1911, the U.S. government initiated United States v. Forty Barrels and Twenty Kegs of Coca-Cola, hoping to force Coca-Cola to remove caffeine from its formula. The case was decided in favor of Coca-Cola. Subsequently, in 1912, the U.S. Pure Food and Drug Act was amended, adding caffeine to the list of "habit-forming" and "deleterious" substances which must be listed on a product's label.
Coca-Cola contains 34 mg of caffeine per 12 fluid ounces (9.8 mg per 100 ml).[45]

Logo design

The Coca-Cola logo was created by John Pemberton's bookkeeper, Frank Mason Robinson, in 1885.[59] Robinson came up with the name and chose the logo's distinctive cursive script. The typeface used, known as Spencerian script, was developed in the mid-19th century and was the dominant form of formal handwriting in the United States during that period.

Robinson also played a significant role in early Coca-Cola advertising. His promotional suggestions to Pemberton included giving away thousands of free drink coupons and plastering the city of Atlanta with publicity banners and streetcar signs.[60]

Contour bottle design

The Coca-Cola bottle, called the "contour bottle" within the company, but known to some as the "hobble skirt" bottle, was created by bottle designer Earl R. Dean. In 1915, the Coca-Cola Company launched a competition among its bottle suppliers to create a new bottle for their beverage that would distinguish it from other beverage bottles, "a bottle which a person could recognize even if they felt it in the dark, and so shaped that, even if broken, a person could tell at a glance what it was."[61]

Chapman J. Root, president of the Root Glass Company of Terre Haute, Indiana, turned the project over to members of his supervisory staff, including company auditor T. Clyde Edwards, plant superintendent Alexander Samuelsson, and Earl R. Dean, bottle designer and supervisor of the bottle molding room. Root and his subordinates decided to base the bottle's design on one of the soda's two ingredients, the coca leaf or the kola nut, but were unaware of what either ingredient looked like. Dean and Edwards went to the Emeline Fairbanks Memorial Library and were unable to find any information about coca or kola. Instead, Dean was inspired by a picture of the gourd-shaped cocoa pod in the Encyclopædia Britannica. Dean made a rough sketch of the pod and returned to the plant to show Root. He explained to Root how he could transform the shape of the pod into a bottle. Root gave Dean his approval.[61]

Faced with the upcoming scheduled maintenance of the mold-making machinery, over the next 24 hours Dean sketched out a concept drawing which was approved by Root the next morning. Dean then proceeded to create a bottle mold and produced a small number of bottles before the glass-molding machinery was turned off.[62]


Chapman Root approved the prototype bottle and a design patent was issued on the bottle in November, 1915. The prototype never made it to production since its middle diameter was larger than its base, making it unstable on conveyor belts. Dean resolved this issue by decreasing the bottle's middle diameter. During the 1916 bottler's convention, Dean's contour bottle was chosen over other entries and was on the market the same year. By 1920, the contour bottle became the standard for the Coca-Cola Company. Today, the contour Coca-Cola bottle is one of the most recognized packages on the planet..."even in the dark!".[24]
As a reward for his efforts, Dean was offered a choice between a $500 bonus or a lifetime job at the Root Glass Company. He chose the lifetime job and kept it until the Owens-Illinois Glass Company bought out the Root Glass Company in the mid-1930s. Dean went on to work in other Midwestern glass factories.

One alternative depiction has Raymond Loewy as the inventor of the unique design, but, while Loewy did serve as a designer of Coke cans and bottles in later years, he was in the French Army the year the bottle was invented and did not emigrate to the United States until 1919. Others have attributed inspiration for the design not to the cocoa pod, but to a Victorian hooped dress.[63]

In 1944, Associate Justice Roger J. Traynor of the Supreme Court of California took advantage of a case involving a waitress injured by an exploding Coca-Cola bottle to articulate the doctrine of strict liability for defective products. Traynor's concurring opinion in Escola v. Coca-Cola Bottling Co. is widely recognized as a landmark case in U.S. law today.[64]

In 1997, Coca-Cola introduced a "contour can," similar in shape to its famous bottle, on a few test markets, including Terre Haute, Indiana.[65] The can has never been widely released. A new slim and tall can began to appear in Australia on December 20, 2006; it cost A$1.95. The cans have a resemblance to energy drink cans. The cans were commissioned by Domino's Pizza and are available exclusively at their restaurants. 
In January 2007, Coca-Cola Canada changed "Coca-Cola Classic" labeling, removing the "Classic" designation, leaving only "Coca-Cola." Coca-Cola stated this is merely a name change and the product remains the same. In 2007, Coca-Cola introduced an aluminum can designed to look like the original glass Coca-Cola bottles. In 2007, the company's logo on cans and bottles changed. The cans and bottles retained the red color and familiar typeface, but the design was simplified, leaving only the logo and a plain white swirl (the "dynamic ribbon"). In 2008, in some parts of the world, the plastic bottles for all Coke varieties (including the larger 1.5- and 2-liter bottles) were changed to include a new plastic screw cap and a slightly taller contoured bottle shape, designed to evoke the old glass bottles.[66]

Designer bottles

Karl Lagerfeld is the latest designer to have created a collection of aluminum bottles for Coca-Cola. Lagerfeld is not the first fashion designer to create a special version of the famous Coca-Cola Contour bottle. A number of other limited edition bottles by fashion designers for Coca Cola Light soda have been created in the last few years.

In 2009, in Italy, Coca-Cola Light had a Tribute to Fashion to celebrate 100 years of the recognizable contour bottle. Well known Italian designers Alberta Ferretti, Blumarine, Etro, Fendi, Marni, Missoni, Moschino, and Versace each designed limited edition bottles.[67]



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 Taken from: [08.05.2013]



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