Coca Cola is one of the most recognized brands in the United States and throughout the world. Although there are several products in the Coca Cola line, its cola drink is its flagship beverage and still its most popular product. The original recipe for the drink, which has been altered over the years, was created at the Eagle Drug and Chemical Company in Columbus, GA. It was created by John Pemberton as a coca wine and was originally called Pemberton’s French Wine Coca. Pemberton’s goal was to create a non-alcoholic beverage option during prohibition. Coke was first sold at Jacob’s Pharmacy in Atlanta in 1886. Pemberton claimed the drink cured diseases and was ideal as a morphine replacement. It was also said to cure impotence and headaches.
Coca cola was originally sold only at soda fountains, but by the end of the 19th century, was being sold across the country in glass bottles. The first bottling of the drink occurred in Vicksburg, Mississippi, at the Biedenharn Candy Company. The familiar Coca Cola shaped bottles were not used and would not become an iconic part of the company until years later.
Was Cocaine Part of the Original Formula?
The original recipe for the drink includes five ounces of coca leaf in every gallon of syrup. The coca plant is the same plant from which cocaine is
derived. By 1891 the recipe had been altered and contained just a tenth of the original five ounces. Coca was essentially removed from the beverage in 1903 when the company began using “spent” leaves from the plant. At this point, there were only trace amounts of cocaine in the beverage. Today, the company uses a leaf extract that is completely cocaine free that is cultivated in Maywood, New Jersey. It is the only plant in the country authorized to process the coca plant.
The other main ingredient in Coca Cola is the Kola nut. The nut extract serves as a flavoring and supplies the caffeine to the drink. The nuts have about two to three and a half percent caffeine content and give Coke its bitter flavor. Over the years Coca Cola has faced a number of lawsuits accusing it of adding addictive ingredients, including caffeine, but none of the lawsuits has ever been effective.
The 1980s were an exciting time for Coke. The company’s marketing made some of the biggest impacts in industry and managed to incorporate iconic images such as Santa Claus and its polar bears onto the scene. In 1985, Coke decided to change the formula of its drink and introduced New Coke to the market. Unfortunately, New Coke was not well-received. The public preferred the taste of the beverage to competitors, but did not like the traditional drink undergoing change. Within a year, Coca Cola reintroduced a variation of the old recipe to the market and called it Coca Cola Classic. By 2011, the world “classic” had been removed from all packaging and New Coke was no longer produced anywhere in the world. Today, the classic recipe of Coca Cola shares the market shelves with Diet Coke, caffeine free Coke, Coke with lime, and several variations of the classic cola drink.