John Stith Pemberton (1831 – 1888) was an American pharmacist, and is best known for being the inventor of Coca-Cola.
In May, 1886, Coca Cola was invented by Doctor John Pemberton a pharmacist from Atlanta, Georgia. John Pemberton concocted the Coca Cola formula in a three legged brass kettle in his backyard. The name was a suggestion given by John Pemberton's bookkeeper Frank Robinson.
Birth of Coca Cola
Being a bookkeeper, Frank Robinson also had excellent penmanship. It was he who first scripted "Coca Cola" into the flowing letters which has become the famous logo of today.
The soft drink was first sold to the public at the soda fountain in Jacob's Pharmacy in Atlanta on May 8, 1886.
About nine servings of the soft drink were sold each day. Sales for that first year added up to a total of about $50. The funny thing was that it cost John Pemberton over $70 in expanses, so the first year of sales were a loss.
Until 1905, the soft drink, marketed as a tonic, contained extracts of cocaine as well as the caffeine-rich kola nut.
In 1887, another Atlanta pharmacist and businessman, Asa Candler bought the formula for Coca Cola from inventor John Pemberton for $2,300. By the late 1890s, Coca Cola was one of America's most popular fountain drinks, largely due to Candler's aggressive marketing of the product. With Asa Candler, now at the helm, the Coca Cola Company increased syrup sales by over 4000% between 1890 and 1900.
Advertising was an important factor in John Pemberton and Asa Candler's success and by the turn of the century, the drink was sold across the United States and Canada. Around the same time, the company began selling syrup to independent bottling companies licensed to sell the drink.
Even today, the US soft drink industry is organized on this principle.
Death of the Soda Fountain - Rise of the Bottling Industry
Until the 1960s, both small town and big city dwellers enjoyed carbonated beverages at the local soda fountain or ice cream saloon. Often housed in the drug store, the soda fountain counter served as a meeting place for people of all ages. Often combined with lunch counters, the soda fountain declined in popularity as commercial ice cream, bottled soft drinks, and fast food restaurants became popular.
On April 23, 1985, the trade secret "New Coke" formula was released. Today, products of the Coca Cola Company are consumed at the rate of more than one billion drinks per day.
Death of John Pemberton
John Pemberton died at age 57 in August 1888, poor, sick, addicted to morphine, and a victim of stomach cancer. His body was returned to Columbus, Georgia, where he was laid to rest at Linwood Cemetery. His gravemarker is engraved with symbols showing his Confederate military service and his pride in being a Freemason. His son continued to sell an alternative to his father's formula, but only six years later Charles Pemberton died, an opium user himself.