On May 8, 1886, Atlanta druggist Dr. John Stith Pemberton (former Confederate officer) invented "Coca-Cola" syrup. It was mixed in a 30-gal. brass kettle hung over a backyard fire. It was marketed as a "brain and nerve tonic" in drugstores. Sales averaged nine drinks per day.
Frank M. Robinson, Pemberton's bookkeeper, was the person who suggested the name "Coca- Cola", which was chosen because both words actually named two ingredients found in the syrup. Robinson also thought that two "C's" would look well in advertising.
The first year's gross sales were $50 and advertising costs were $73.96.
The original formula included extracts of the African kola nut and coca leaves, both strong stimulants. "Coca Cola" was one of thousands of exotic patent medicines sold in the 1800s that actually contained traces of cocaine.
One summer in 1886, a customer walked into a drugstore complaining of a headache and requested a bottle of "Coca Cola" syrup. To get instant relief, he asked the "soda jerk" to mix up a glass on the spot. Rather than walk to the other end of the counter in order to mix it with cold tap water, the clerk suggested using soda water. The man remarked it really tasted great, and soon after "Coca-Cola" was in fizzy, carbonated form.
"Coca-Cola" was first sold for 5¢ a glass as a soda fountain drink at Jacob's Pharmacy in Atlanta, Georgia.
In 1888, Asa Griggs Candler bought the company from Dr. Pemberton. Later that same year, Dr. Pemberton died. By 1914, Candler had acquired a fortune of some $50 million. Baseball hall of famer Ty Cobb, a Georgia native, was another early investor in the company.
In 1894, Joseph A. Biedenharn, owner of the Biedenharn Candy Company in Vicksburg, Mississippi, first bottled "Coca Cola."
By 1903, the use of cocaine was controversial and "Coca-Cola" decided to use only "spent coca leaves." It also stopped advertising "Coca-Cola" as a cure for headaches and other ills.
In 1929, after his death, Griggs Candler's family sold the interest in "Coca-Cola" to a group of businessmen led by Ernest Woodruff for $25 million. Woodruff was appointed president of "Coca-Cola" on April 28, 1923 and stayed on the job until 1955.
Footnote : I do not claim to be an expert in Coca-Cola memorabilia or its value. I collect Coca Cola only as a hobby. All references to Coca-Cola, Coke, Diet Coke are copyright of The Coca-Cola Company.