How a Syrup Made to Disguise Bitter Taste of Medicine – “Coke”

A famous product that has become a symbol of America in all parts of the world was developed by a man who was trying to find something that would successfully disguise the then biter taste of most medicines.

Dr. John S. Pemberton thought that if he could just find the right combination to accomplish this he would make a fast fortune. A pharmacist who had been a Confederate cavalry officer in the Civil War, he experimented for several years at his home in Atlanta. Usually, working with a brass kettle in his backyard to concoct his various brews, he tried, cherry, grape, orange and other flavors. However, none of the combinations would successfully, completely disguise the bitter aftertaste of the medicines.

Pemberton toiled on, increasing and decreasing, adding a little of this, mixing different spices and herbs. He would add a little of this ......a dash of that.......a little more sugar......a pinch of coca.......and so on, and on. Aaaaaaah....... more like it!

At last, Pemberton knew he had the real thing. As a matter of fact, it tasted so good he decided to market it as a soft drink Drawing an ounce of his reddish-brown liquid from the brass kettle and putting it in a bottle he hurried to the Willis Venable drug store, which happened to have the largest soda fountain in Atlanta. Venable mixed some syrup with water. Hmmm, not bad, but.....then he mixed some syrup with carbonated water, took a sip-----and was delighted, real delighted!

Venable promptly agreed to sell the new drink at his fountain for 5 cents a glass. Pemberton’s happy partner, Frank M. Robinson, suggested a name and wrote it out in fashionable, flowing handwriting of the day: Coca-Cola.

That occurred in the spring of 1886. Today, 155 million glasses of “Coke” are sold every day in 130 countries and Coca-Cola Co. sales last year, 1972, totaled $1.8 billion------But, Pemberton never made his fortune. In the first year Coca-Cola grossed only $50, and before he died in 1888, Pemberton sold all of his right, title and interest in Coca-Cola for $2,000.

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