The origins of Coca Cola

DSC_0023_13In 1869, a wounded veteran of the American Civil War turned up in Atlanta to make a fortune. He had little cash and had little means and chose to live in a  crammed hostel with may others who had big dreams but small bank balances.

The man was John Pemberton. Despite his limited means, he set up an impressing sounding, “Pemberton Chemical Company,” and the principal business of the company to create beverages like Dr Pepper which were becoming increasingly popular in Atlanta and across the United States.

Pemberton spent many years concocting different drinks, using different formulas and compositions, but each one of the drinks failed. His already limited funds were drying up and things were looking desperate and bleak.

He decided that he would give it one last shot and try mixing soda water and cola syrup and this combination  found a small but growing customer base. The years of failures were not in vain, and he finally began to find some hope!

Seven years after coming to Atlanta, he successfully convinced a small group of investors to support his business.

He also realised that he needed to have a brand proposition that stood out from the many other alternatives that were slowly creeping into the marketplace. It was at this time that his accountant and business advisor, Frank Robinson, suggested that his new drink be called ‘Coca-Cola.’

Frank Robinson went one step further and also decided to design and wrote out the logo in his own inimitable handwriting. The world can thank an accountant for the birth of what is now a global icon, instantly recognisable the world over!

In Coca-Cola’s first year of business, they made a loss of $26 – the revenues were only $40! Pemberton lost hope and with little hope of improvement, he decided to sell his business for $2,300 to ASA Candler in 1888 (incidentally when Celtic Football Club – the world’s greatest football club was formed!).

Candler decided that Coca Cola should be available to every single state across the United States of America and also transformed the business model by not relying solely on selling the beverage to soda fountains. It was Candler who stabled a franchisee model to develop bottling networks across the country which in turn allowed for people to buy a bottle of Coca Cola and rink it wherever they wanted to, whenever they wanted it.

This was what set Coca Cola off in their journey to becoming the world’s most dominant soft drink.





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