How it all started
The prototype Coca-Cola recipe was formulated at the Eagle Drug and Chemical Company, a drugstore in Columbus, Georgia by John Pemberton, originally as a coca wine called Pemberton's French Wine Coca. He may have been inspired by the formidable success of Vin Mariani, a European coca wine.
In 1886, when Atlanta and Fulton County passed prohibition legislation, Pemberton responded by developing Coca-Cola, essentially a non-alcoholic version of French Wine Coca. The first sales were at Jacob's Pharmacy in Atlanta, Georgia, on May 8, 1886. it was initially sold as a patent medicine for five cents a glass at soda fountains, which were popular in the United States at the time due to the belief that carbonated water was good for the health. Pemberton claimed Coca-Cola cured many diseases, including morphine addiction, dyspepsia, neurasthenia, headache, and impotence. Pemberton ran the first advertisement for the beverage on May 29 of the same year in the Atlanta Journal.
By 1888, three versions of Coca-Cola — sold by three separate businesses — were on the market. Asa Griggs Candler acquired a stake in Pemberton's company in 1887 and incorporated it as the Coca Cola Company in 1888. The same year, Pemberton sold the rights a second time to four more businessmen: J.C. Mayfield, A.O. Murphey, C.O. Mullahy and E.H. Bloodworth. Meanwhile, Pemberton's son Charley Pemberton began selling his own version of the product.
The famous Coca-Cola logo was created by John Pemberton's bookkeeper, Frank Mason Robinson, in 1885. Robinson came up with the name and chose the logo's distinctive cursive script. The typeface used, known as Spencerian script, was developed in the mid 19th century and was the dominant form of formal handwriting in the United States during that period.
Robinson also played a significant role in early Coca-Cola advertising. His promotional suggestions to Pemberton included giving away thousands of free drink coupons and plastering the city of Atlanta with publicity banners and streetcar signs.
Coca-Cola's advertising has significantly affected American culture, and it is frequently credited with inventing the modern image of Santa Claus as an old man in a red-and-white suit. Although the company did start using the red-and-white Santa image in the 1930s, with its winter advertising campaigns illustrated by Haddon Sundblom, the motif was already common. Coca-Cola was not even the first soft drink company to use the modern image of Santa Claus in its advertising: White Rock Beverages used Santa in advertisements for its ginger ale in 1923, after first using him to sell mineral water in 1915. Before Santa Claus, Coca-Cola relied on images of smartly dressed young women to sell its beverages. Coca-Cola's first such advertisement appeared in 1895, featuring the young Bostonian actress Hilda Clark as its spokeswoman.
An 1890s advertisement showing model Hilda Clark in formal 19th century attire. The ad is titled Drink Coca-Cola 5¢. (US)
1941 saw the first use of the nickname "Coke" as an official trademark for the product, with a series of advertisements informing consumers that "Coke means Coca-Cola". In 1971 a song from a Coca-Cola commercial called "I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing", produced by Billy Davis, became a hit single.
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