Coca-Cola began it's existance in a three-legged brass pot in the backyard of John S. Pemberton
on May 8, 1886. Pemberton was a pharmacist trying to create a new headache tonic. Pemberton
took his creation to the now famous Jacob's Pharmacy (pictured above), about 2 blocks from his
home. There the syrup was mixed with cold tap water and sold to ailing customers for 5 cents. As
the story goes, a customer in great pain came in and ordered the syrup and the soda jerk
accidentally mixed it with carbonated water instead of regular tap water. The customer loved the
new drink, declaring it "Delicious and Refreshing!"
Frank Robinson, Pemberton's partner and bookkeeper, suggested the name "Coca-Cola", taking
each part of the name from a key ingredient in the product and proclaiming that the two C's
would look good in advertising. Mr. Robinson penned "Coca-Cola" in the unique flowing script
that is now famous worldwide!
In 1886, sales of Coca-Cola averaged 9 drinks per day. That first year, Pemberton sold only 25
gallons of syrup. For his efforts, Pemberton grossed $50.00 and spent $73.96 on advertising!
As John Pemberton's health grew worse, he sold the company off. Asa Candler took sole
ownership of the company by 1891 for a mere $2,300.00!!! (that included all rights, including his
In 1894, Coca-Cola was first bottled by Joseph Biedenharn, owner of the Biedenharn Candy
Company of Vicksburg, Mississippi. Candler believed that the bottling idea was crazy and that
people would never go for it! As the popularity of Coca-Cola increased, many imitators came onto
the scene, offering products such as "Koca-Kola", so the company decided that they needed a
bottle that would be easily recognizable so as not to be confused with any other. The Root Glass
Company of Terre Haute, Indiana designed the now famous "contour bottle" or "hobbleskirt".
This bottle design was first patented in 1915 and then again December 25, 1923. In the year 1928,
bottle sales first surpassed fountain sales, proving that the bottling idea had been a great success!
Asa Candler's merchandising flair helped expand the company to every state and territory by
1919. In that year, Candler (who then went on to become mayor of Atlanta, Georgia!) sold the
company to Ernest Woodruff and a group of investors for $25 million and in 1923 Robert
Woodruff (Ernest's eldest son) became president of the company. Robert Woodruff's more than
six decades of leadership took the business to unrivaled heights of commercial success, making
Coca-Cola an institution the world over!
At the beginning of WWII, Robert Woodruff issued an order to "see to it that every man in
uniform gets a bottle of Coca-Cola for 5 cents wherever he is and whatever it costs the company!"
In 1943, during World War II, Eisenhower sent a telegram requesting 10 additional Coca-Cola
bottling plants overseas for our troops. At the beginning of the war, Coke was bottled in 44
countries. At the close of the war, 64 additional bottling plants had been established abroad. The
presence of Coca-Cola did more than lift the morale of the troops...it gave many local people in
those countries their first taste of Coca-Cola, paving the way for unprecedented worldwide sales
after the war!
The cover page of the May 15, 1950 issue of Time magazine features a Coca-Cola advertisement.
It was the first time that a consumer product had been featured on their cover. That same issue
also contained a detailed story about Coca-Cola's extensive distribution and franchising system.
In 1981, Robert Goizueta became president of Coca-Cola and soon became one of the most
successful businessmen in the world. Mr. Goizueta had come to America from Cuba with little
more than a suitcase.
In 1985, the Coca-Cola Company introduced its new formula for Coke, calling the product "New
Coke" and then "Coke II". The public demanded their original formula back and the company
soon began producing "Coca-Cola Classic".