A Brief History Of Coca-Cola, America’s Most Famous Export

A Brief History Of Coca-Cola, America’s Most Famous Export – Coca-Cola is more than a soft drink; it is America’s most iconic beverage, evolving from a small-town soda fountain in the nineteenth century. Coca-Cola, or Coke as we all know it, has a long history: since its founding in 1886, the company has evolved through many decades, adapting to the roaring 1920s, the disco age of the 1970s, and finally, the technology-driven current day. Yet, despite the numerous commercial campaigns and slogans, Coca-Cola has stayed true to its roots of fun, enjoyment, and enjoying life’s simple pleasures.

Dr. John S. Pemberton, an Atlanta pharmacist, returned from the Civil War in 1886 to discover something that would bring him fame. Because Pemberton’s past attempts with medications had generally failed, he decided to take a fresh approach and produce his soda fountain syrup. Pemberton took his caramel-colored, intensely flavored syrup to his neighborhood drugstore, Jacob’s Pharmacy, blended with carbonated water. Customers tried the drink there and agreed that it was something remarkable. Pemberton’s partner, Frank Robinson, helped establish the distinctive red-and-white lettering that is still used today. The drink was first sold for five cents a glass at Jacob’s Pharmacy; shortly after, it was renamed Coca-Cola by Pemberton’s partner, Frank Robinson.
Fleeman’s Pharmacy, Atlanta, Georgia | Richard Warren Lipack/Wikicommons | Claimed to be the first installation anywhere of the 1948 model “Boat Motor” designed Coca-Cola soda dispenser, Fleeman’s Pharmacy, Atlanta, Georgia.

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Coca-Cola was not as successful as Pemberton had planned in the first year; despite newspaper advertisements and coupons for free samples, only nine Coke glasses were consumed per day. So Pemberton sold Coca-Cola to Asa Chandler in 1888, right before his death; Chandler, an enthusiastic businessman, expanded the company, distributing Coca-Cola to cities outside of Atlanta. Then, in 1894, a Mississippi soda fountain owner was interested in making Coca-Cola portable, so he installed a bottling machine behind his soda station and, for the first time, bottled Coke. Exclusive rights to bottle and sell Coca-Cola were sold to three Tennessee men in 1899, and by 1916, over 1,000 bottling operations were in operation. In the same year, the bottlers settled on a distinctive bottle design to set.

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Coca-Cola apart from the competition and make it instantly recognized to consumers all over the world. This iconic curved bottle is still in use today, and it has inspired artists from all around the world, with many of them on display in Atlanta’s World of Coca-Cola.
This ticket for a complimentary glass of Coca-Cola, thought to be the first coupon ever, was initially handed in 1888 to help promote the product. | Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain

Coca-Cola has had several advertising campaigns and slogans throughout its history, adapting to each age it has traveled through. Coca-Cola advertised in the Saturday Evening Post in 1929 with the tagline “The Pause That Refreshes,” which has since become one of the company’s most recognized slogans and is being used in commercials today.

Coca-Cola utilized advertising in the 1970s to encourage “fun, friends, and good times”; The Hilltop Singers performed “I’d Like to Buy the World a Coke” in 1971, and a renowned commercial featuring a Pittsburgh Steeler football player debuted in 1979. Coca-Cola utilized slogans like ‘Coke is It!’, ‘Catch the Wave,’ and ‘Can’t Beat the Feeling’ in the 1980s, and the polar bear ads with the phrase ‘Always Coca-Cola’ in the 1990s. Coca-Cola launched their global ‘Open Happiness’ campaign in the 2000s, drawing inspiration from the classic 1920s phrase and encouraging people to ‘pause, refresh with a Coca-Cola, and continue to enjoy one of life’s simple pleasures.’ Coca-Cola is being drunk more than 1.9 billion glasses each year.

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