Today in History: Coca-Cola Takes First Step Toward Success
Coca-Cola's humble beginning began in Atlanta, Georgia, on May 8, 1886.
On this day, pharmacist Dr. John Stith Pemberton brought a jug of his newly formulated drink to Jacob's Pharmacy in downtown Georgia. The drink was sampled, pronounced excellent, and sold to customers as a soda fountain drink for five cents per gallon. According to Coca-Cola's website, the new refreshment averaged a sale of nine drinks per day in its first year.
Coca-Cola was initially touted as a tonic for common ailments, containing extracts of the coca leaf (a source of cocaine) and caffeine extracts from the kola nut. According to Britannica, cocaine was removed from Coca-Cola's formula around 1903.
Pemberton's accountant, Frank Robinson, is credited with naming the drink "Coca‑Cola," after the two main ingredients in the beverage, coka and kola nut. Robinson's logic was that two Cs would look well in advertising. The accountant penned the famous Spencerian script logo that we all recognize today, and the trademark was officially registered with the U.S. Patent Office in 1893.
Without a vision of what Coca-Cola would turn into, Pemberton sold portions of his business to various partners over time. Just before he died in 1888, he sold his remaining interest in Coca-Cola to businessman Asa Candler. Candler went on to buy additional rights to acquire complete company control.
The Library of Congress reports that by the late 1890s, Coca-Cola was one of the most popular fountain drinks in America. Candler managed to increase the servings of Coca-Cola in 1890 from one million to one hundred million in just ten years. This is largely attributed to advertising and slogans.
Experts also attribute the company's success to the proprietary Coca-Cola bottle. The company requested a design that would "be recognized by touch alone and so unique it could be identified when shattered on the ground." The result was the iconic bottle with fluted lines inspired by the curves and grooves of the cocoa bean.
Today, people in more than 200 countries worldwide drink more than 2.2 billion servings of The Coca-Cola Company beverages daily.