History of Coca‑Cola

Shop front of Jacobs Pharmacy

History of Coca‑Cola: 1886-1892
Atlanta Beginnings

It was 1886, and in New York Harbour, workers were constructing the Statue of Liberty. Eight hundred miles away, another great American symbol was about to be unveiled.

Like many people who change history, John Pemberton, an Atlanta pharmacist, was inspired by simple curiosity. One afternoon, he stirred up a fragrant, caramel-coloured liquid and, when it was done, he carried it a few doors down to Jacobs' Pharmacy. Here, the mixture was combined with carbonated water and sampled by customers who all agreed - this new drink was something special. So Jacobs' Pharmacy put it on sale for five cents (about 3p) a glass.

Pemberton's bookkeeper, Frank Robinson, named the mixture Coca‑Cola, and wrote it out in his distinctive script. To this day, Coca‑Cola is written the same way. In the first year, Pemberton sold just nine glasses of Coca‑Cola a day. A century later, The Coca‑Cola Company has produced more than 10 billion gallons of syrup.

Over the course of three years, between 1888-1891, Atlanta businessman Asa Griggs Candler secured rights to the business for a total of about $2,300 (about £1,500). Candler would become Coca‑Cola's first president, and the first to bring real vision to the business and the brand.

History of Coca‑Cola: 1882-1892
History of Coca‑Cola: 1893-1904
History of Coca‑Cola: 1905-1918
History of Coca‑Cola: 1919-1940
History of Coca‑Cola: 1941-1959
History of Coca‑Cola: 1960-1981
History of Coca‑Cola: 1982-1989
History of Coca‑Cola: 1990-1999
History of Coca‑Cola: 2000-Now

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