History of Coca-Cola


Sipped and savored for over a century, Coca-Cola is the real king of pop. While its roots run deep here in Atlanta, this soft drink is the epitome of a global brand and a worldwide symbol.

Celebrating the anniversary of its first sale 127 years ago today, here’s a look back at the highs and, well, more highs, of the refreshing brand we all know and love.

1886: Coca-Cola is born in Atlanta, Ga. The secret syrup was made by local pharmacist, Dr. John Stith Pemberton. He brought a jug of it to Jacobs’ Pharmacy and after sampling it, everyone loved it. It was put on shelves for 5 cents a glass and the first one was sold on this day.

(Fun fact: Pemberton liked the two C’s in “Coca-Cola” and wrote the name in his own script. . . inspiration for what we see now)

1888: Before his death, Pemberton sells Coca-Cola® to Asa G. Candler, an Atlanta businessman.

1892: Candler liquidates his pharmaceutical business to focus on Coke®. He forms a Georgia corporation called “The Coca-Cola Company.”

1893: The “Coca-Cola” trademark is registered in the US Patent Office.

1894: Joseph Biedenharn bottles Coca-Cola for the first time in Vicksburg, MS.

1895: Coke® is being enjoyed in every state and territory in the US.

1898: The Coca-Cola Company’s first headquarters is built. At three stories tall, the company outgrows its new home within the next 10 years.

1899: Large-scale bottling becomes a reality. The first bottling plant opens in Chattanooga, TN the same year. Today, the Coca-Cola bottling system is one of the largest in the world.

1916: Distinctive packaging is created and the unique contour bottle is approved (it was not trademarked until 1977).

1919: Ernest Woodruff and a group of investors buy The Coca-Cola Company for $25 million.

1926: Woodruff creates the Foreign Department (later became a subsidiary called The Coca-Cola Export Corporation) to handle foreign sales and distribution.

1928: Coca-Cola begins their partnership with the Olympic Games (held in Amsterdam that year).

1941: When US enters WWII, Woodruff is ordered to “see that every man in uniform gets a bottle of Coca-Cola for 5 cents, wherever he is and whatever it costs the Company.” Coca Cola becomes symbol of friendship as well as refreshment in the post-war world.

1945: “Coke®” is registered as a trademark.

1950: First live television show sponsored by The Coca-Cola Company airs on Thanksgiving Day.

1955: 10, 12 and 26-ounce and family-size bottles are created.

1960: Metal cans (first created for the military) are made available in stores.

1961: Sprite® is introduced.

1963: TAB, the company’s first low-calorie drink, is introduced.

1977: Plastic PET (polyethylene Terephthalate) packaging in a two liter bottle is introduced.

1982: Diet Coke® is introduced and proves to be the most successful soft drink since the launch of the original Coca-Cola.

1985: Coca-Cola announces a “new taste” in the classic beverage, the first change in the formula since its creation in 1886. Taste tests prove consumers prefer the new taste, but are still attached to the “originality” of the classic formula. Coca-Cola soon puts the original formula back on the market as “Coca-Cola Classic®.”

1988: Three worldwide surveys conducted by Landor & Associates show that Coca-Cola is the best-known and most admired trademark in the world.

2004: In celebration of the 100th anniversary of Time Square and the Coca-Cola bottler in New York, The Coca-Cola Company erects a new billboard sign, which is currently one of the largest digital canvases in the world. It’s a 3D, high-tech display that is over six stories high with custom digital imagery for Coca-Cola classic®, Diet Coke® and Coca-Cola C2®. The sign also includes GPS technology, 2.6 million LED lights and a state-of-the-art computer screen. Before this, the last time the sign was changed was in 1991.

Today: Celebrating 127 years, Coca-Cola is now available in over 200 countries and produces over 3,500 products worldwide. It remains an international symbol of not only refreshment but friendship as well.

Popular Slogans Over The Years
“It’s The Refreshing Thing To Do” (1936)
“The Global High Sign” (1944)
“Sign of Good Taste” (1957)
“Be Really Refreshed” (1963)
“Things Go Better With Coke” (1966)
“It’s the Real Thing” (1969)
“Coke Adds Life” (1976)
“Have a Coke and a Smile” (1979)
“Coke Is It!” (1982)
“Can’t Beat the Feeling” (1989)
“Can’t Beat the Real Thing” (1991)
“Always Coca-Cola” (1993)
“Life Tastes Good” (2001)
“The Coke Side of Life” (2006)