The other day I wrote about the invention of the Soda. I only put one line in my article about the creation of Coca-Cola, but being the one soda I like to drink, I thought I was going to take a quick look to learn more about it.
Who Created Coca-Cola?
As the story goes, everything started with Confederate Colonel John Pemberton in the late 19th century. Due to his combat injuries, this American Civil War veteran–who had a medical degree–became dependent on morphine, and he set out on a mission to develop an alternative.
In 1885, Pemberton opened his drugstore, Pemberton’s Eagle Drug and Chemical House, in Columbus, Georgia. There, he registered Pemberton’s French Wine Coca nerve tonic, a concoction inspired by the success of Vin Mariani, a French-Corsican coca wine. Pemberton’s tonic featured an additional ingredient, the African kola nut, which served as the source of caffeine in the beverage.
As a side note, it turns out that a Spanish drink called “Kola Coca” was presented at a contest in Philadelphia in 1885–Coca-Cola later bought the rights to this beverage in 1953. But let’s go back to our story.
In 1886 when Atlanta and Fulton County passed prohibition legislation, Pemberton developed a nonalcoholic version of his French Wine Coca and named it Coca-Cola. On May 8, 1886, the first sales of Coca-Cola took place at Jacob’s Pharmacy in Atlanta, where it was initially sold for five cents a glass.
During this era, drugstore soda fountains were popular, as carbonated water was believed to have health benefits. Pemberton capitalized on this trend by marketing Coca-Cola as a patent medicine and a cure for various ailments, including morphine addiction, indigestion, nerve disorders, headaches, and even impotence.
Coca-Cola became quite popular and by 1888, not less than three versiond of Coca-Cola were sold by different sources. This led to a partnership between Pemberton and other local enterpreneurs–but as the rights to the name of the beverage were contested, others still produced their own Coca-Cola.
At that time Pemberton’s son, Charley, search to took control of the brand name and his actions pushed Asa Candler, a young druggist who had purchased interest in the formula before it became big, to take action in order to took over the company–it was also encouraged by the sudden death of John Pemberton on August 16, 1888.
Candler’s legal problems would not end there as the history of Coca-Cola is full of contract disputes for rights, but also of acquisitions of other compagnies.
Coke in a Bottle
As discussed in my article about the invention of soda, bottling came later. For Coca-Cola, it was on March 12, 1894. The now famous bottles were not the first used by the company. In fact, it was Hutchinson bottles.
The Coca‑Cola Contour Bottle which is now so iconic was created in 1915. It was created with the goal of making Coca-Cola stand out from competing beverages at the time.
The Coca-Cola Bottling Association’s trustees decided on April 26, 1915, to offer up to $500 to create a unique bottle for Coca-Cola. As a result, eight to ten glass businesses in the United States were given the task of creating a “bottle so distinctive that you would recognize it if by feel in the dark or lying broken on the ground.”
C.J. and William Root, Alexander Samuelson, Earl Dean, and Clyde Edwards of the The Root Glass Company in Terre Haute, Indiana, dediced to take on the challenge. Their work started with a trip to the neighborhood library to look up design options. The group found its shape after they came across a picture of a cocoa bean with an elongated shape and pronounced ribs. Once the design was decided, Dean Edwards drew the now-recognizable shape on strong linen paper, and following Alexander Samuelsson’s guidance, a few prototype bottles were made.
Under Samuelsson’s name, The Root Glass Company submitted a patent registration, which was approved on November 16th, 1915. This design was soon selected by the Coca‑Cola Company. The rest is history.