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John Stith Pemberton (January 8, 1831–August 16, 1888) was a Confederate veteran, an Americanmarker druggist, and perhaps was best known for being the inventor of Coca-Cola, which in his lifetime was used only for medical purposes.

Invention of Coca-Cola

In April 1865, Pemberton was wounded in the defense of his hometown, Columbus, Georgiamarker, and like many wounded veterans he became addicted to morphine. Searching for a cure for this addiction, he began experimenting with coca and coca wines, eventually creating his own version of Vin Mariani, containing kola nut and damiana, which he called Pemberton's French Wine Coca.

With public concern about drug addiction, depression and alcoholism among veterans, and 'neurasthenia' among 'highly-strung' Southern women, his medicinal concoction was advertised as being particularly beneficial for "ladies, and all those whose sedentary employment causes nervous prostration, irregularities of the stomach, bowels and kidneys, who require a nerve tonic and a pure, delightful diffusable stimulant".

In 1885, when Atlantamarker and Fulton Countymarker enacted temperance legislation, Pemberton produced a nonalcoholic alternative to his French Wine Coca. Frank Mason Robinson came up with the name "Coca-Cola" for the alliterative sound, which was popular among other wine medicines of the time. Although the name quite clearly refers to the two main ingredients, the controversy over cocaine content would later prompt The Coca-Cola Company to state that it is "meaningless but fanciful". Robinson also hand wrote the Spencerian script on the bottles and ads. Pemberton also made many health claims for his product and marketed it as 'delicious, refreshing, exhilarating, invigorating' and touted it as a 'valuable brain tonic' that would cure headaches, relieve exhaustion and calm nerves.

The original formula allegedly called for 8.46 mg of cocaine, while an average dose of the street drug is between 15–35 mg. However, the effects of the coca leaf is greatly compounded by the presence of caffeine from the kola nut. Coca-Cola was originally advertised as a cure for morphine and opium addictions among a multitude of other health benefits.

Asa Candler bought the business in 1888. In 1894, Coke was sold in bottles for the first time. During World War II, bottling plants were set up in Europe, Africa, and the Pacificmarker.

References

  1. Dominic Streatfeild, Cocaine: An Unauthorized Biography, Macmillan (2003), p. 80.
  2. Richard Davenport-Hines, The Pursuit of Oblivion, Norton (2004), p. 152.
  3. John Shelton Reed, Minding The South, University of Missouri Press (2003), p.171.
  4. Mark Pendergrast, For God, Country, and Coca-Cola: The Definitive History of the Great American Soft Drink and the Company that Makes It, Basic Books: enlarged 2nd edition (2000), p.24.


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