Dr John Styth Pemberton from Knoxville, Georgia moved to Atlanta in 1869.
As a pharmacist, he tried to concoct several patent medicines to sell.
Among them, was the French Wine Coca,
a modification of a drink called Mariani,
a mixture of wine and coca, a very popular drink of the affluent like the
Pope, kings and queens at the time. Dr Pemberton worked hard in making
his French Wine Coca
taste better. He boiled together certain ingredients and came up
with a sweet tasting caramel colored brew . He brought a jug of the
formula and test marketed it at Jacob's Pharmacy in Atlanta, Georgia on
May 8, 1886 as a cure for headache, exhaustion, and mental fatique.
It was placed on sale for 5 cents a
glass as a soda fountain drink. The soda water was preferred over
ice water to mix with the syrup by the early tasters. The sales of
the first Coca-Cola drink
was meager. On the first year, Pemberton sold only 25 gallons of
the formula grossing $50.00 with a net loss of $23.96.
Frank M. Robertson, Pemberton's partner in business came up with the name Coca-Cola. He was also credited for the unique script lettering . Shortly thereafter, a cloth sign reading "Drink Coca-Cola", was displayed in front of Jacob's Pharmacy, the largest drugstore in Atlanta.
Not knowing the potential of the formula, and because he was in poor health, Dr Pemberton sold his remaining interest to a partnership on April 14, 1888. Four months after the sale, Dr Pemberton died.
Asa Candler, a fanatic of the new drink purchased all rights to the formula for $2,300. A great believer of advertising, Candler distributed hundreds to thousands of complimentary coupons for a glass of Coca-Cola. He distributed souvenirs, watch fobs, pocket knives, calendars, fans, clocks, and countless small items all promoting the product.
In 1894, Joseph A. Biedenharn bottled the first Coca-Cola in Vicksburg, Mississippi. Therefore, he became the first bottler of the drink. To sell more syrup, Asa Candler gave for free the permission to bottle Coca-Cola to two businesmen, Benjamin F. Thomas and Joseph B. Whithead of Chattanooga, Tennessee. In return they bought the Coca-Cola syrup for $1.00 a gallon from Candler. The most innovative franchising system in the world started on July 21, 1899 literally for nothing! Asa Candler obviously missed the enormous implication of this venture. The bottling business mushroomed from 1 to more than 1,000 in two decades.
Imitations was a serious problem for Coca-Cola. The straight sided bottles looked just like any other soda drinks. Earl Dean, of Root Glass Company in Terre Haute, Indiana came up with the hoobleskirt design bottle, named after a dress in fashion in 1914. In 1916, the bottlers approved the unique bottle shape. The new contour bottle eventually came to symbolize Coca-Cola as much as the script logo.
In 1919, Candler sold the Coca-Cola company to Ernest Woodruff for 25 million dollars. Four years later his son Robert Woodruff was elected president of the company. He directed Coca-Cola fortunes from 1923 until his death in 1985.
In 1985, Roberto Goizueta the new CEO changed the taste of the world-famous drink. Inspite of the biggest blunder in corporate America, Goizueta managed to steer the fortunes of Coca-Cola to its new heights. To this day Coca-Cola remains the most recognizable and the most popular drink in the planet Earth.