July 8 - Happy Birthday, John Pemberton

   Posted on July 8, 2022     

This is an update of my post published on July 8, 2011:

Did you know that Coca-Cola was originally created as a medicine?

Did you know that it was named after its (original) two main ingredients, coca and kola?


Above, coca leaves. Below, kola nuts.

Did you know that an alkaloid of the coca plant is cocaine?

Don't worry, Coke doesn't have cocaine in it—anymore!

When the American druggist John Pemberton first invented Coca-Cola, in 1866, it was a result of his search for a non-alcoholic version of his coca wine.

Pemberton had fought in the Civil War (for the South) and had to deal with an addiction to morphine, which he received from army doctors when he was injured. He developed coca wine with kola, and he apparently found some relief with his concoction, which he began to sell to others. Soon, however, a “temperance” law was passed—thus making it illegal to make, sell, or drink alcohol. Pemberton worked hard to create a recipe for a non-alcoholic version. He decided to mix his coca-kola syrup with soda water, and he sold it for five cents a glass as a patent medicine. People at the time believed that carbonated water was good for their health, and Pemberton claimed his particular soda was a cure for morphine addiction, dyspepsia, neurasthenia, headache, and other health problems.

These collections of old-time Coca-Cola bottles
shows that the now-familiar bottle shape wasn't
always used.

Although there were an estimated nine milligrams of cocaine per glass in the original Coke, cocaine was removed from the secret recipe in 1903. Coca-cola still contains coca flavoring, however.

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