On May 8, 1886, the first glass of a "brain and nerve tonic" was poured for a customer at Jacob's Pharmacy in Atlanta, Georgia. Invented by Dr. John S. Pemberton in a three-legged brass kettle in the good Doctor's backyard, it consisted of lime, cinnamon, coca leaves, and the seeds of a Brazilian shrub. At that time it was not carbonated, but at least it was given a name by Dr. John's bookkeeper, Frank Robinson. Mr. Robinson also penned the familiar Coca-Cola name in bold flowing script, a marketing coup unequalled in advertising even today. The sales of the innovative tonic averaged about 9 per day and became a financial loss for its first year. But future sales would reach 800,000,000 by today. During that same summer of 1886, a customer complaining of a headache, requested a mixture of the tonic. A lazy "soda jerk" asked if soda water would be an acceptable substitute for tap water, as the latter was at the far end of the counter. It proved not only acceptable, but on being praised by the customer, it caught on quickly, destined to evolve into today's super drink.
Two years later, The Coca-Cola Company was sold to Asa Candler, the same year Dr. Pemberton passed away. Until 1905, the formula would be unrecognizable to today's customers, as it contained extracts of cocaine and was rich in caffeine, essentially the first true energy drink. The use of cocaine became controversial and was discontinued in favor of "spent coca leaves" by 1913. The Company passed hands in 1929, being sold for $25 million. Throughout its history, its nickname was "Coke", a name that was discouraged in the early advertising, but popularity eventually won, and by 1945, even the slang term became a registered trademark.
Coca Cola has proven a super-giant as an advertising success. Inventive promotions have included souvenir calendars (which usually depict, healthy, attractive, wholesome young women), innumerable novelties that have become eagerly sought collectibles, and perhaps the most effective strategy -- splashing huge colorful images across the nation on brick walls and barn doors. The latter is especially effective when people are out-of-doors and feeling thirsty. It was decided that people just had to try the beverage and then they would buy it. The strategy worked and was extended by bottling the drink so that eager customers were not restricted to buying the product at the soda fountain, but could take it home and carry the refreshment with them on picnics and journeys. The slogan campaign was simple and effective -- a bold, scripted, Coca Cola was shown, and all the customers were asked to "Drink Coca Cola".
In 1982, Diet Coke was introduced, and since then many other varieties have appeared including Caffeine-free Coke, Kosher Coke, Cherry and Diet Cherry Coke, Coke with Lemon, Vanilla Coke and Diet Coke with Lime.
The first television ad for Coca-Cola featured Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy on Thanksgiving Day 1950. This was followed by a newspaper campaign which already augmented a magazine campaign, in which colorful ads showed healthy adults and children, as well as significant personalities from movie stars to Santa Claus. The most memorable slogan for the drink was "the pause that refreshes."
It is not surprising that the company, its products, its machinery, and its promotion, even its older style bottles, have become much sought after collectibles. The company is a study in the value of promotion. There is rarely a place in the world where one can escape signs of the famous drink, even to the farthest reaches of the forests and outback, the focus of a plot of a hilarious movie in which a Bushman finds a discarded Coke bottle that he believes has been lost by the unknown superior beings, from the movie, "The Gods Must Be Crazy."