Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Origin of Coca-Cola

Coca-Cola was invented by John Stith Pemberton in Covington, Georgia in May 1886. The beverage was initially a cocawine and was called Pemberton’s French Wine Coca. After Atlanta and Fulton County passed Prohibition legislation, Pemberton made a carbonated, non-alcoholic version of French Wine Cola and called it Coca-Cola. Coca leaves from South America were added as a stimulant to the beverage along .with kola nuts which were added to give flavor to the drink. Due to them the name Coca-Cola was given to the beverage. Asa Candler, who was also a pharmacist of Atlanta, bought the formula for Coca-Coal in 1887 from John Pemberton for $2,300. Asa Candler marketed Coke aggressively and was responsible of the dominance of the world soft drink market by Coke.

During Pemberton’s time five ounces of coca leaf were added per gallon of the syrup which constituted a significant dose. Candler claimed in 1891 that he had altered the formula of Coca-Cola and it now contained only a tenth of amount of coca leaves. Coca-Cola also contained nine milligrams of cocaine per glass till 1904, when they started using “spent” leaves instead of fresh leaves. The spent leaves were the leftovers of cocaine-extraction process and contained just traces of cocaine. But cocaine is still present in the drink as it is one of the alkaloids present in the drink. Even today the flavoring is done with kola nuts and “spent” coca leaf. There actually exists a plant in New Jersey, authorized by Federal Government, where coca plant for manufacturing Coca-Cola syrup is grown.

Coca-Cola was first sold as a patent medicine at soda fountains for five cents a glass. Pemberton claimed that Coca-Cola was good for health and cured many diseases such as headache, impotence, morphine addiction. The first sale of Coca-Cola was made at Jacob’s Pharmacy in Atlanta and on an average nine drinks were sold per day for first nine months. The first advertisement for the beverage appeared in Atlanta Journal on May 29.

Asa Candler bought the formula from Pemberton in 1887 and incorporated the company as the Coca-Cola Company in 1888. In 1888, Pemberton sold the rights of the company a second time to four businessmen: J. C. Mayfield, A.O. Murphey, C. O. Mullahy and E. H. Bloodworth while he himself was suffering from morphine addiction. Charley Pemberton, son of John Pemberton and an alcoholic, started selling his own version of the drink. To sort out the situation Pemberton declared that the name Coca-Cola belonged to Charley but the other two manufacturers could continue to use the formula. Candler sold his beverage under the names Yum Yum and Koke but both failed. After the failure of his beverages, Candler claimed that he was the only one who had rights to Coca-Cola; Candler purchased exclusive rights to the formula from John Pemberton, Margaret Dozier and Woolfolk Walker. 

In 1914, dozier claimed that her signature on the sale papers had been forged and analysis indicated that John Pemberton’s signature might have been a forgery as well. Candler incorporated a second company; “The Coca-Cola Company” in 1892 and in 1910 burned the records of the company so as to make the legal origins of the company obscure.

The drink was certified kosher by Rabbi Tobias Geffen in 1935 after the Coca-Cola Company made some minor changes in procuring some ingredients. On March 12, 1984 Coca-Cola was sold for the first time in bottles and was sold in cans in 1955. The first bottling of Coca-Cola was done at Vicksburg, Mississippi in 1891 by the Biedenharn Candy Company. The first bottles were not of the design that we are familiar with.

When Pepsi started giving serious competition to Coca-Cola, a new drink called “New Coke” was formulated and launched on 23 April, 1985 with much publicity. Then CEO, Robert Goizueta, and the president, Don Keough, were instrumental for coming out with a reformulated Coca-Cola. The New Coke was a disaster; it was rejected by the public. The failure of the drink was a big bow to the Coca-Cola Company. A person from Seattle founded the Old Cola Drinkers of America and tried to sue the company and force it to release the formula of Old Coke to be released in public domain. The company had to bow to the public pressure and reintroduce the Old Coke on July 10, 1985 under the name of Coca-Cola Classic. It has been accused that the company introduced the new coke with a bad flavor deliberately to revive interest in the old product and regain the market share they were fast losing to Pepsi.

The Coca-Cola Company declared in 2005 that were planning to launch Diet Coke which will be sweetened with Splenda, artificial sweetener sucralose. (Pepsi One was using the same sweetener). In the same year it came out with another diet drink, “Coca-Cola Zero”, which was sweetened with a mixture of aspartame and acesulfame potassium.

A lot has been speculated about the secret formula of Coca-Cola. The original copy of the formula is kept secured in the main vault of SunTrust bank in Atlanta. The Trust Company was the underwriter of initial public offering of the Coca-Cola Company in 1919. Coca-Cola has a rule which restricts the number of executives having access to the formula to two.

The Coca-Cola Company only produces a syrup concentrate and sells it to several bottlers across the globe. The bottlers use the syrup to make the final drink by adding sugar and filtered water to it. The bottling, packaging, distribution, and selling are done by the bottlers. The Coca-Cola Company holds minority shares in some of the largest franchisees such as Coca-Cola Enterprises, Coca-Cola Amatil. The amount of sweeteners added varies so as to cater to the local taste.

Frank Mason Robinson created the famous Coca-Cola logotype in 1885. Robinson came up with the name as well as responsible for the logo’s distinct cursive script.

Pepsi is the main rival of Coca-Cola. Even though it is second to Coke in terms of sales, Pepsi performs better in some specific regions. Kola Real gives coke competition in South and Central America. Inca Kola of Peru sells more than Coca-Cola in Peru, but t was purchased by the Coca-Cola Company in 1999. In India Coca-Cola bought Thums-Up, a local drink, which had more sales than Coke but less than Pepsi. In many countries of Middle-East, Parsi Cola and Zam Zam Cola are major competitors to Coca-Cola. In UK Robinsons drinks is major rival of coke rather than Pepsi.

Coca-Cola has been an Olympic sponsor since 1928, when it was the first-ever sponsor of the Olympic Games. Coca-Cola also sponsored the Summer Olympics held at Atlanta in 1996. From 1978, Coca-Cola has sponsored every FIFA World Cup and other competitions organized by FIFA.

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