Over the last one hundred and thirty years the Coca-Cola Company has grown into one of the world’slargest companies. The first Chief Executive of the company Dr. John Pemberton was looking for a quick cure for his headache when he concocted the Coca Cola formula in May 1886.
UNTIL 1905, the soft drink, marketed as a tonic, contained extracts of cocaine as well as the caffeine-rich kola nut. Pharmacist, John Pemberton was born in Knoxville, Georgia. He graduated from Southern Botanico Medical College of Georgia in 1850 and briefly practiced as a traditional steam doctor, who used steam baths, herbs, and other products to restore the body to proper health. Pemberton later obtained a degree in pharmacy from a school in Philadelphia. In 1855, Pemberton moved to Columbus, Georgia, where he practiced primarily as a druggist for fourteen years. In May 1862, Pemberton enlisted as a first lieutenant in the Confederate Army where organized Pemberton’s Calvary to guard the town.
Local and wealthy physician
During a gun battle he was shot and cut with a saber across the chest. He used morphine for the pain and eventually became a morphine addict. For five years after the war, Pemberton worked as a partner with a local and wealthy physician. At the time, there was a large demand for home remedies and tonics in the United States, especially in large cities.
In 1869, Pemberton moved to Atlanta, Georgia, to start a lucrative business. Here, he invented, and successfully sold a drink he called French Wine Coca. Its fame spread throughout the Southeast, and the demand for the tasty beverage became high. Pemberton himself endorsed his wine� as a cure for morphine addiction. In 1885, with talk of Prohibition, Pemberton developed a drink without alcohol. Pemberton added the extract from cola nuts, a strong stimulant containing caffeine, along with the coca, and he replaced the wine with sugar syrup.
On May 18, 1886, Pemberton decided on a final formula for his new drink, and Frank Robinson, a part owner of his company, came up with the name Coca-Cola and scripted Coca Cola into the flowing letters which has become the famous logo and trademark of the brand today. On June 28, 1887, the Coca-Cola trademark patent was granted. Pemberton’s Pharmacy in Atlanta, Georgia, was the first place to serve Coca-Cola from a soda fountain.
The cocaine was eventually removed from the drink in 1905. So when the new Coca-Cola debuted later that year – still possessing the valuable tonic and nerve stimulant properties of the coca plant and cola nuts, yet sweetened with sugar instead of wine – Pemberton advertised it not only as a delicious, exhilarating, refreshing and invigorating�soda-fountain beverage but also as the ideal temperance drink. It is said coke was discovered when De Luise, a 19th century American soda jerk accidentally hit the soda water spigot, adding carbonated water to the syrup in the glass. The result was a happy accident�: the invention of Coca-Cola. And the Coca-Cola beverage, whose unit sales totaled a mere 3,200 servings based on the twenty-five gallons of syrup sold to drugstores by Pemberton Chemical Co.), is today called the world’s most popular soft drink – accounting for billions of servings at restaurants all over the world.
The trademark Pemberton and his partners created more than one hundred years ago can claim wider recognition today than that of any other brand in the world. Such is the commercial legacy of a onetime Confederate lieutenant colonel who earned his medical degree at the age of nineteen. Coca Cola was first imported into the African market through South Africa in 1928 but a bottle of what eventually became the world’s most famously enjoyed beverage had been sighted a decade before on the dockside of African seaport in a sailor’s bag. Bottling would not start on the continent until 1940 when a bottling plant was established in South Africa—where it began its great African adventure. In 1951, A.G Leventis got the franchise to sell the product in Nigeria. Two years later, the Nigerian Bottling Company was incorporated as a subsidiary of Leventis.
And the first bottling facility was established in Ebutte Metta and Apapa, Lagos. The 1960s saw NBC exceeding the One Million crates per year mark. NBC commissioned its second bottling factory in Ibadan in 1961 and rapidly increased their operation which now boasts about 13 facilities and 64 depots across the country.
In 2000, NBC became part of the Coca-Cola Hellenic Bottling Company S.A (an anchor bottling group with operations in 28 countries worldwide. This year, Coca-Cola celebrates its 130th anniversary, and the product now enjoys a continent –wide presence along with its 46 bottling partners, operating in all countries and territories in Africa. In each country, the business is a local enterprise. Over 1.7bn servings of The Coca-Cola Company (TCCC) products are consumed worldwide each day in virtually every country on the planet. And with Africa accounting for 7% of it, some 120m Coca-Cola products are served continent-wide every day and that number mounts daily in tune with Africa’s unstoppable economic march. Around the world, products of the Coca Cola Company are consumed at the rate of more than one billion drinks per day.
In 1894, Coke was sold in bottles for the first time. During World War II, bottling plants were set up in Europe, Africa, and the Pacific islands. Back to Pemberton. By the late 1890s, Coca-Cola was one of America’s most popular fountain drinks. Realizing that he needed financial backing to market this non-alcoholic version of French Wine Coca on a large scale, Pemberton formed a company for that purpose.
He put his son Charles in charge of manufacturing Coca-Cola, and after prohibition ended in 1887, he again produced French Wine Coca. He announced that he would retire from active practice, sell his drugstores in Atlanta and elsewhere in the state, and devote all his time to promoting his beverages. Meanwhile, a group of businessmen responded to Pemberton’s appeal to finance the new Coca-Cola Company. Asa Candler, an American business tycoon who had worked for Pemberton in 1872 came on the scene and bought the business From John Pemberton in 1888 and established the Coca Cola Company.
Under the new arrangement, received a royalty of five cents for each gallon of Coca-Cola sold. With Asa Candler at the helm, the Coca-Cola Company increased syrup sales by over 4000% between 1890 and 1900. Candler later took over controlling shares of the company after Pemberton’s death. Charles Candler, Asa’s son once said that one of his father’s first missions was to change the original Pemberton formula in order to improve the taste of the product and ensure its uniformity and stability.
To this end; Candler hired Pemberton’s former partner, Frank Robinson to perfect the formula. Reports had it that Pemberton’s financial troubles, along with his morphine addiction, led him to sell, trade, and give away portions of his company to various individuals. It was Pemberton’s practice to organize a business as a co partnership and then convert it into a corporation.
On August 16, 1888, he died at his home in Atlanta of stomach cancer, on the 6th of August 1888, leaving behind many unfinished formulas. On the day of Pemberton’s funeral, Atlanta druggists closed their stores and attended the services en masse as a tribute of respect. On that day, not one drop of Coca-Cola was dispensed in the entire city. At sun up the following day, a special train carried his body to Columbus, where a large group of friends, relatives, and admirers laid him to rest. The Atlanta newspapers called him the “oldest druggist of Atlanta and one of her best known citizens”
•Born: July 8, 1831, Knoxville, Georgia, United States.
•Education: University of Georgia.
•Died: August 16, 1888, Atlanta, Georgia, United States.
•Known for: Coca-Cola.
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