It was “the golden age of American patent medicines … the promise of easy health in a bottle.”
In Atlanta, Georgia, pharmacist John Pemberton brewed a syrup he called Coca-Cola. It was was billed as a “cure [for] all nervous afflictions—Sick Headache, Neuralgia, Hysteria, Melancholy, Etc. …” On 08 May 8 1886, Jacob’s Pharmacy mixed the syrup with soda water and sold it for a nickel a glass. (That would be about $2.00 in today’s dollars.)
During the first year the beverage was on the market, Pemberton sold about nine glasses a day. The product name was coined by Pemberton’s bookkeeper, Frank Robinson, whose elegant penmanship is responsible for the company’s flourish-filled logo, which began to appear in Atlanta newspaper ads as well as on pharmacy awnings.
Pemberton died two years later; another Atlanta pharmacist, Asa Griggs Candler, bought Coca-Cola for $2,300 (less than $150,000 today) over a three year period. Under Candler’s leadership, the health tonic would become one the world’s best known brands.
In 1894, Coca-Cola opened its first production plant outside of Georgia in Dallas. As an aside, Dr. Pepper had been born in Waco, Texas in 1885.
By 1940, Coca-Cola sold its soda water, bottled in distinctive glass, in 40 countries. As of May 2022, the Coca-Cola Company was valued at $281 billion.