What is the story behind the origin of Coca-Cola?

Coca-Cola is a word synonymous with the word cola. The story of the multibillion beverage brand begins in 1886. In a morning of May that year, a 55 year old pharmacist and former colonel named John Pemberton walked into the famous Jacob’s Pharmacy in Atlanta. His destination was the soda fountain of druggist Willis Venable which worked in the building. Once in the place, Pemberton poured the thick liquid he had with him into two glasses, an ounce each. He asked Venable to add 5 ounce water and ice to each glass, and the drink was prepared in minutes. Both of them drank it and Venable was surprised at the taste. He decided to drink some more but this time he added soda by accident, instead of water. When he had been made aware, Pemberton thought it wouldn’t make much of a difference. However, Venable was overcome with wonder when he drank it this time. He declared it was the best beverage he had ever had.
It was the successful end of the many experiments John Pemberton had been carrying out and the beginning of Coca-Cola. Pemberton used to experiment with medicines and drinks. A morphine addict, his goal was to create a non-addictive beverage with a large demand. His tests were primarily based on coca and kola nuts. He eventually made a drink, registered as French Wine Coca. But the alcoholic content in it made the drinkers lethargic and drowsy, opposite of his goal. So he decided to remove the alcohol from the beverage and that was what led to the invention of the drink that became known as Coca-Cola.
The name Coca-Cola was suggested by Frank Robinson, the then book-keeper of Pemberton. He was also the one who designed the popular logo of the brand. The drink was first sold with claims of healing properties at the soda fountain of Venable.
The drink wasn’t very popular in the beginning. One of the reasons was that the Americans were not much familiar with the taste of Kola nut, which came from Africa. Though Pemberton invested heavily in advertisements, it wasn’t productive much. After the death of Pemberton in 1888, Coca-Cola was completely acquired by Asa Candler, a businessman who had had share in the firm. His marketing techniques saw a slow and steady growth in the business by the end of 19th century. In 1892, the ‘Coca-Cola Company’ was registered and the next year the trademark was registered as well.
The huge success of Coca-Cola came during the World War II. The drink was distributed among the American soldiers. The move was supported by the military generals including Eisenhower because the soldiers would refrain from alcohol. Wherever the US army went, there reached Coca-Cola. Thus, it entered different corners of the world. After the war, Coca-Cola went on to be popular in various parts of the world and almost became a symbol of America. The erstwhile head of the company, Robert Woodruff was the architect of this success. Since then, they had never had to look back.

Additional reading:
Coca-Cola (Wikipedia)

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