Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Columbus and Coca-Cola (excerpted)


John Stith Pemberton was injured during the Battle of Columbus. He received a saber slash across his chest during the struggle for the 14th Street bridge. Like many other wounded veterans, he became addicted to the morphine that was used for a pain-killer.

Pemberton was a pharmacist and decided to work on a medicine that would help relieve his addiction. Eventually he came up with a formula which was basically a wine infused with coca (cocaine), kola nut (caffeine), and damiana (purported aphrodisiac). This was essentially an imitation of a very successful French medicinal wine called Vin Mariani, but Vin Mariani used only coca not Pemberton's other two ingredients. He called his new medicine, "Pemberton's French Wine Coca," and began selling in several drugstores in Atlanta, Georgia.

In 1886 he ran into a problem. Temperance legislation was enacted in Atlanta and Fulton County. This forced him to try to come up with a new, non-alcoholic formula for his drink.

With the help of a druggist named Willis Venable, he came up with a recipe to blend his base syrup with carbonated water. This way it could be sold as a fountain drink. A man named Frank Mason Robinson came up with a catchy new name for the drink, and on May 8, 1886, the first Coca-Cola was sold at Jacob's Pharmacy in Atlanta, Georgia.

So, if the Battle of Columbus hadn't happened, John Pemberton would not have been injured. If he had not been injured, he would not have gotten addicted to morphine. Without an addiction he would not have searched for a cure, and if he had not been searching for a cure, we would never have gotten Coke!


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