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125 Years of Coca-Cola

Coca-Cola is celebrating its 125th year as a brand. A party at the 2011 Annual Meeting was entertained by a specially convened choir formed of young people from Atlanta and New York.

Coca-Cola was invented by Atlanta pharmacist John Pemberton in 1886. He sold it through the nearby “Jacob’s Pharmacy” for five cents per glass. John Pemberton’s bookkeeper, Frank Robinson, wrote the name out in the distinctive script which is still used to this day. During the first year of business, “Jacob’s Pharmacy” sold just nine glasses of Coca-Cola per day.

Asa Griggs Candler secured the rights to the Coca-Cola business between 1898 and 1891 for $2,300. He became the company’s first President and marketed the drink with great success using branding, coupons and distribution networks. Three syrup plants were built to supply demand.

In 1894, Joseph Biedenharn bottled Coca-Cola and sent twelve specimens to Candler, who responded without enthusiasm. In 1899, Candler sold the exclusive rights to bottle and sell Coca-Cola to Benjamin Thomas and Joseph Whitehead for just one dollar.

In 1916, the Root Glass Company of Terre Haute, Indiana, won a contest to design a bottle that could be recognised in the dark. The famous contour bottle was soon being used by the thousand bottlers in the USA and abroad, who were distributing Coca-Cola.

Coca-Cola branched out into new brands after World War II, first with Fanta, then Sprite in 1961, TAB and Fresca. During the eighties, Coca-Cola organised the US bottling operations into a new public company, Coca-Cola Enterprises Inc under the direction of Roberto C Goizueta. He also led the introduction of Diet Coke.

The nineties saw acquisitions and further growth with the Coca-Cola brands including Powerade sports drinks, Oasis fruit drinks, Limca, Maaza and Thums Up in India, Barq’s root beer in the US, Inca Kola in Peru, and Cadbury Schweppes beverage brands in more than 120 countries around the world. By 1997, Coca-Cola was selling one billion servings of its products every day.

In 2011 the drinks company owns over 400 brands and serves 1.6 billion drinks every day. The Coca-Cola Company makes a syrup which is then distributed to bottlers with exclusive geographical rights to sell the drink. The dispersed franchise model, aggressive marketing and simple formula have catapulted this prohibition-era treat into the daily lives of citizens throughout the world.

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Business Desk
Editors and staff from the Business Desk at The Global Herald.

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