Coca-Cola's Origin Story
EXIT of the Day: Hear this right… Here!
Exit 76 in GA I-95n To: SR 84, Midway, Sunbury
At the last Exit, EXIT 67, we told you how the wilderness of Georgia spawned the biggest religion in Modern America. That religion would be Evangelical Christianity. Before upcoming EXIT 76, we will discuss how Georgia created the biggest soda pop in the world. That soda pop is Coca-Cola. And while Evangelical Christianity may have been spawned from a colonial-era love triangle, Coca Cola’s Civil War era origins are seeped in even greater scandal.
Obviously, we need to investigate such salacious history right here at an exit that would bring you to Coke's World Headquarters. May we even suggest you get right to exit. After all, the origin story of Coca-Cola goes down even better when you are sipping a Coke!
"If you get off briefly at EXIT 76, you will get 2 free cans of Coca Cola or Diet Coca Cola with any order of a meal at the nearby "Cindy's Diner". "Cindy's Diner" is rated as a "4 star Diner" by Yelp. The Diner is less than 2 minutes off the upcoming EXIT. Just tell them RoadSpoke sent you and tap DEAL RADAR now! So get right to Exit and get a meal with 2 free beverages right here in the middle of Coke Country! "
Coke always had a formidable advertising presence. “Coke is it.” “Coca Cola is Coke.” “It’s the Real Thing.” But for jingles like these and an intriguing startup story, it may just as well have been another cola runner up. But when Asa Candler bought Coke’s Founders Stock from Inventor John Pemberton, Coca-Cola was just another patent medicine instilled with the now illegal narcotic, cocaine.
The true inventor, Pemberton would become almost irrelevant. And Asa would become a visionary. At least that was how the Atlanta based company likes to tell the story today. But in the beginning, in the 1880’s, Asa Candler may have just been a real devious operator.
So how did a concoction of cola nut syrup and sugar get so big? Well some could say, it all started with addiction and the Civil War.
Confederate Colonel John Pemberton was wounded in the Civil War. Like many others, he became addicted to the pain killer morphine. But unlike many others, John Pemberton set out to find a cure for his addiction and ultimately found it in substituting cocaine for morphine.
Borrowing from a cocaine tinctured Spanish beverage called “Cola Coca”, Pemberton made a significant contribution by carbonating his elixir — and of course, swapping the names. Then he marketed it to soda fountains in drug stores. Pemberton claimed “Coca-Cola” cured many diseases, including morphine addiction, indigestion, headaches, and even impotence.
By 1887, fellow Georgian Asa Candler had invested and yet he owned Coke Business stock, a percentage of the name Coca Cola, but none of the valuable Coke formula which was still owned by the Pemberton family. On his own, Asa had tried to launch a few other soda fountain drinks but they all failed. The only concoction selling was the original Coca-Cola.
Then old man Pemberton died...
Colonel Pemberton’s forty year old son was Charley. Charley Pemberton was an alcoholic. For Asa Candler, Charley was the one obstacle in his quest to own the entire company.
Candler quickly approached Charley to purchase the exclusive rights to the name "Coca-Cola" right after Colonel Pemberton's death. But the prodigal son was not selling. One story was that Asa Candler then turned to the widow Pemberton. In fact he turned to her in the funeral home. Approaching the recently bereaved wife at Colonel Pemberton’s funeral, Asa bought the title to the name from Charley's mother for $300. But he still had to get the rights to the formula. And Charley was still NOT selling!
Then something auspicious happened. Charley Pemberton was found on June 23, 1894, unconscious — with a stick of opium by his side. Ten days later, Charley was dead. Shortly afterwards, a mysterious fire allegedly wiped out any other evidence of any other Pemberton heir’s claim to Coke stock. That coupled with a few forged stock transfer documents, and shazam! Asa Candler wound up as the majority stock owner of Coca Cola.
All told the Candlers bought out the Pemberton family for about $2,500 dollars.
Today, Coke products are sold in over 200 countries worldwide, with consumers drinking around two billion company beverage servings each day. If Asa Griggs Candler was to buy Coke on the open market today, he would need to pay nearly $200 billion dollars.
No wonder Coke is It! Coca Cola after all is just that. It’s the real thing. And apparently Asa Candler knew it ALL along….
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