The History of Coca-cola


Learn all about the History of Coca-Cola including who invented it, how did it become popular and Santa's association to the brand!

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The American English Podcast

By Shana Thompson

Start listening at minute: 10:26.

In 1886, a pharmacist by the name of John Pemberton developed a remedy for a headache, stomachache and many other common ailments. The recipe for his concoction had traces of cocaine from coca leaves in it and extracts from kola nuts, which can be found in kola trees that grow natively in the rainforests of West Africa. 

Traditionally, coca leaves had been used as a stimulant among natives around the Andes Mountain Range in South America. Likewise, the kola seeds within the kola nut were  little bite-sized pieces of energy, each seed containing about 2-4 percent caffeine. They smelled sweet and tasted bitter, and they had been used traditionally in West African cultures to ease stomach pain and help digestion. So it was a perfect mix. 

Pemberton was convinced that this tonic he had created would sell. So he had his bookkeeper, Frank Robinson, come up with a name. Coca-Cola he would call it. It was simple and straightforward. Frank wrote the name on a piece of paper and swirly script. The two C’s in cursive next to each other looked really nice, actually. The name looked sellable. 

That cursive handwriting of Frank the bookkeeper is the font we see today on Coca-Cola bottles. 

In any case, in 1887, Pemberton went to the US Patent Office and registered the recipe for his sugary carbonated beverage. In American English, we can call sugary carbonated beverages, soft drinks, fountain drinks, soda or in some locations, even pop. 

So was Coke an instant hit? Well, not exactly. It wasn’t selling very well in the very beginning because Pemberton wasn’t a very good marketer. He actually advertised it as an "intellectual beverage" that had a "peculiar flavor" that "delights every palate".


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Shana - ESL Teacher

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