Today is The Real Thing: May 8th is National Have a Coke Day!
It’s also coconut cream pie day, but with no fewer than a dozen and a half pies being celebrated over the course of the year, we are more than happy to skip that one in favor of the most popular carbonated beverage in the world.
Rarely is a brand name product the recipient of a food holiday. In fact, this might be the only such food holiday of the year devoted to a specific product. I can’t think of any others off the top of my head.
Coca-Cola was invented in 1886 by Atlanta pharmacist John Pemberton, who wanted to create a distinctive tasting soft drink that could be sold at soda fountains. And also cure his morphine addiction. Two birds, one stone, you know? He mixed up a batch of flavored syrup and carried it in a jug down the street to Jacob’s Pharmacy, where it was mixed with carbonated water, sampled, and deemed “excellent.” It was sold for 5 cents a glass and originally marketed as an elixir believed to cure dyspepsia, headaches, impotence, and other ailments (like the aforementioned morphine addiction). Pemberton’s bookkeeper, Frank M. Robinson, came up with the name and the distinctive logo, which he wrote out in his own unique script – the familiar trademarked logo we’re all familiar with. The original recipe contained coca leaves (from the plant where cocaine is derived) and kola nut extracts for flavor and caffeine. Pemberton died just two years later, but not before selling shares of his business to various Atlanta-area entrepreneurs. The biggest portion went to Asa Candler, who took a 1/3 interest in the company after buying the recipe for $2300; Candler went on to form the Coca-Cola Corporation, and expanded to soda fountains outside of Atlanta with exclusive distribution and bottling deals as the drink’s popularity soared. Candler altered the recipe – at one time Coke contained an estimated 9 milligrams of cocaine per glass, but by 1904 there were only trace amounts left as the company substituted leaves left over from the cocaine extraction process for the fresh leaves it had used previously. To this day, a non-narcotic coca leaf extract is still used in the manufacturing of Coke. Which brings new meaning to the popular slogan, “Have a Coke and a smile.” When competition from other, inferior products (no, I’m not a Pepsi fan, can you tell?) threatened to chip away at Coke’s products, the company countered by creating a unique, contoured bottle in 1916, a design that was eventually trademarked. Popular advertising slogans over the years have included “Coke is It,” “It’s the Real Thing,” “The Pause That Refreshes,” and “I’d Like To Teach the World to Sing.” There’s a lot more fascinating history on this product – if you’re interested in learning more, read here.
The truth is, I’m not a huge soda (or pop, if you’d prefer) fan. But when I am in the mood for a cola beverage, it’s always Coke. There’s simply nothing better, despite Tara’s claims that Pepsi is superior (cough*bullshit*cough). And when I do drink Coke, I prefer it in that distinctive glass bottle. Every year around Christmas Target carries six-packs of those little bottles of Coca-Cola, and I stock up. I think I bought 4 or 5 last year, and I drink them sparingly.
Tara and I met up for lunch today, and we ordered Coke to go along with our Burgerville grub.
I have to admit, it was a pause that refreshed.
- Unbelievable Facts About Coca-Cola’s History (9 pics) (themysteryworld.com)
- 9 Facts About Coca-Cola’s History That’ll Make You Go “Whoa” (buzzfeed.com)
- Coke’s New Logos and the Era of Personalized PR (business2community.com)