Widely regarded as one of the most popular drinks Coca-Cola has established a name for itself world-wide. People of all age enjoy drinking Coca-Cola, but most don’t know the story behind the drink’s invention.
In the 1880s, Coca-Cola was actually invented as a cure for headache and hangover.
John Pemberton, (1831-1888) was a chemist from Atlanta, Georgia. Known as the Doc, he was attempting to develop a natural cure for headaches by mixing coca leaves and cola nuts.
Pemberton sold the product at the soda fountain attached to his drug store. He claimed that his drink would cure a variety of diseases, including headache and hangover.
His claims were buttressed by the belief at the time that carbonated water was good for health. Pemberton’s medicine was advertised as particularly beneficial for “ladies, and all those whose sedentary employment causes nervous prostration.
Pemberton concocted a syrup cordial made from wine and coca extract, which he called ‘Pemberton’s French Wine Coca’.
In In 1885, Atlanta banned the sale of alcohol, forcing Pemberton to produce a purely coca-based version of the syrup that needed to be diluted.
Pemberton cannot entirely take credit for the invention of what we today know as Coca-Cola. The drink was born by mistake when his lad assistant accidently mixed the concoction with carbonated water. This resulted in the first coke drink.
Soon after Coca-Cola hit the market, Pemberton fell ill and nearly bankrupt. Sick and desperate, he began selling rights to his formula to his business partners in Atlanta. Part of his motivation to sell actually derived from his expensive continuing morphine addiction.
John Pemberton died from stomach cancer at age 57 in August 1888. At the time of his death, he also suffered from poverty and addiction to morphine.
Over a century, the exact formula for Coca-Cola is still a closely guarded secret, treated by the company like the government treats nuclear launch codes. It is likely a little more sophisticated than the carbonated drink that John Pemberton first sold almost 130 years ago.