On average, the human body requires hydration every four hours. Humanity has a huge selection of drinks that can be used to increase the level of water in the body: tea, coffee, juices, kvass, and finally just pure water. But the most famous brand under which thirst-quenching products are sold is Coca-Cola.


The drink called “Coca-Cola” was invented in 1886 by pharmacist John Pemberton, and he did it under the compulsion of circumstances. It all started when he became addicted to morphine after being wounded during the American Civil War.

But in 1885 in some counties of the state of Georgia introduced a “dry law”, so Pemberton had to change the recipe of the drink again, excluding alcohol from it. The latter was replaced by caramel syrup (melted sugar). In 1886, the new, non-alcoholic drink was named “Coca Cola”, thereby pointing to its main ingredients. Its author was Pemberton’s accountant – Frank Robinson.

And thanks to the fact that Robinson possessed calligraphic writing, he also brought out the words “Coca-Cola” in beautiful fancy letters.

The first point of sale of “Coca-Cola” was a pharmacy, since the drink was positioned as a medicine for opium addiction, depression, neurasthenia, stomach diseases, etc. One glass of such medicine cost 5 cents (or $1.4 in today’s prices).

As it often happens, the inventor was not able to take full advantage of the results of his work. In 1888, Pemberton sold the rights to the trademark to banker Iza Candler. Perhaps the reason for this was his difficult financial situation, or Pemberton simply underestimated the potential of his product. The sources indicate different amounts of sales – from $550 to $2,300 (or from $15,000 to $64,000 in today’s prices).

In 1892 Candler created the company “The Coca-Cola Company”, which brought the drink to the world level.

According to the Interbrand consulting agency, the value of the Coca-Cola brand in 2020 amounted to $56.9 billion (sixth place in the world).

Did Coca-Cola contain cocaine?

So, the original recipe of the drink included fresh coca leaves. In one glass of “Coca-Cola” contained 9 mg of the drug. For comparison: a single street dose for a person who does not use cocaine is 15-60 mg. Since at the end of the 19th century public opinion turned against cocaine, in 1903 this ingredient was slightly modified – instead of coca extract, they began to use dry leaves that do not contain cocaine.

A secret recipe

The recipe for making the drink is the company’s biggest secret. At the same time, “Coca-Cola” also lets in the fog, stating that the recipe is stored in a safe in the “World of Coca-Cola” museum in Atlanta. But in 2011, the resource This American Life laid out recipewhich was allegedly jotted down 140 years ago in the notebook of Pemberton’s best friend.

If this is really an original recipe, then included in the drink:

  • liquid coca extract,
  • citric acid,
  • caffeine (from kola nut),
  • sugar,
  • water,
  • lime juice,
  • vanilla,
  • caramel,
  • alcohol,
  • orange oil,
  • lemon oil,
  • nutmeg oil,
  • coriander,
  • neroli and cinnamon.

In turn, “Coca-Cola” claims that this is an outdated recipe. And this seems to be true, considering the presence of alcohol among the ingredients.

Free promotion

Even before the sale of the brand, Pemberton donated coupons for free glasses of cola. After the creation of the company, this method of attracting new supporters of the drink was also used. In general, between 1886 and 1913, every ninth American received a free sample of Coca-Cola.

A coupon for a free Coke. Photo: cocacolaGB/Facebook

Red is not taxed

In the 19th century in the USA, significant tax tariffs were imposed on alcoholic beverages. Ago barrels in which Coca-Cola was transported were painted red, so that tax officials could easily distinguish them from containers with alcohol and did not overcharge. The bright red color remains an easy way to identify cola cans and glasses even today.

Change of form

Initially, Coca-Cola was sold only by the bottle. But in 1899, businessmen Benjamin Thomas, Joseph Whitehead and John Lupton bought the rights to sell the drink in bottles, the cost of which was $1.

In 1915, Coca-Cola announced a competition to create a bottle design that would be different from the design of competitors. The Root Glass company won, and the key to success was their misconception about the ingredients of Coca-Cola.

Designers mistakenly believed that Coca-Cola contained cocoa beans, and therefore created a convex bottle based on them. Sometimes it is necessary to make a mistake to achieve the goal!

The evolution of the Coca-Cola bottle. Photo by ibogdan – depositphotos.com

New industry standards

“Drink chilled.” This slogan is often found in descriptions of Coca-Cola drinks. And for the first time it began to be used in 1919, when the company declared that the ideal temperature at which the drink should be consumed is from 1°C to 3.3°C

After the change in form – change in volume

The company’s marketers drew attention to the fact that customers are not limited to one bottle when going to the store. Therefore, in 1923, the company first introduced a multi-pack of six bottles to the market, so that consumers could take them in a set, and not separately.

Coca-Cola created a modern image of Santa Claus?

This is a myth. The image of Santa dressed in red appeared as early as 1870 (that is, before the invention of Coca-Cola). However, Christmas advertising campaigns from “Coca-Cola” really confirmed him in this image.

When someone else’s trouble turns into joy

Coca-Cola became the main American drink after the introduction of Prohibition and the closing of bars.

“Time” cover

In 1950, the famous magazine “Time” came out with a cover on which the Earth was depicted with a bottle of cola. This illustration demonstrates how popular the drink has become.


In 1955, the manager McDonald’s Ray Kroc offered a partnership to an already extremely well-known brand of soft drinks. The “Coca-Cola” company liked this idea – thanks to one giant, another appeared. McDonald’s is still the largest customer of Coca-Cola products.

In step with the times

After the appearance of a competitor, which became the growing company “Pepsi”, “Coca-Cola” decided to diversify the set of bottles in order not to lose its position in the market. In 1955, bottles of royal wine were added to the original 185 ml bottles (king-size) and family size. It was a very unusual idea at the time. One of the Coca-Cola executives compared the introduction of larger bottles to adultery.

“Coca-Cola” does not stop experimenting with the volume and materials of its bottles.

Aluminum cans are very popular among young people, but they are not very convenient for drinking. Therefore, aluminum bottles of the traditional form for the company have appeared today, which have the advantages of cans and do not have their disadvantages.

Photo by SeeMidTN.com (aka Brent) licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

A history of marketing failure

“Coca-Cola” has made so many successful innovative steps in their industry that one can get the impression that their marketing strategy is completely infallible. But it is not so.

In the 80s of the last century, Coca-Cola tried to convince people that in the morning you should drink their carbonated drink instead of coffee. The Los Angeles Times published an article in which it was proved that only the inhabitants of the rural hinterland enjoy hot bitter drinks in the morning. But this PR campaign failed, because consumers did not accept the statement, according to which the morning should start with soda water.

Space circle

In 1985, Coca-Cola became the first carbonated drink consumed in space: astronauts aboard the Challenger spacecraft drank cola from special Coca-Cola space cans.

An extremely wide line of drinks

The “Coca-Cola” company does not only produce cola. At the moment, the product line consists of 4,000 different drinks under 500 brands. If you tasted one drink every day, it would take you 11 years to taste them all.

“Coca-Cola” is known to everyone

The company claims that its name is the second most famous word in the world. It is recognized by 94% of the inhabitants of the Earth and it inferior only to the word “Ok” (“okay”). In addition, the red and white logo of the company is recognized by more than 90% of the inhabitants of the planet.

Addiction to Coca-Cola drinks

The average inhabitant of our planet drinks one or another drink from the company every fourth day.

Mexican cola consumers are leading the way by a huge margin – they drink 728 cans of cola (eight-ounce – about 236 ml) per capita per year. The second place belongs to the Chileans – 460 cans, and only on the third place – the Americans with 403 cans.

The only countries on the planet where it is impossible to buy Coca-Cola (at least officially) are Cuba and North Korea.

Industrial espionage or fair competition

In 2006, several Coca-Cola employees tried to sell confidential papers that contained information about a new drink, and even a sample of this drink, to a person who introduced themselves to one of Pepsi’s executives. But in fact, those looking for easy money fell into the trap of an FBI agent, which he prepared after receiving information from representatives of Pepsi. Corporate spies were imprisoned – for terms of 5 to 8 years.

Coca-Cola plant near Kyiv

To the north of Kyiv, in the village of Velyka Dymerka, there is a factory that produces the popular “Coca-Cola” drinks. For those who want to see with their own eyes how it happens, excursions are organized – directly at the factory and in the company’s museum.

Interesting experiments with Coca-Cola

A can of Coke sinks in water, Diet Coke does not.

Mentos and Coca-Cola make an explosive mix.

Coca-Cola life hacks

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Yuriy P.
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