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John S. Pemberton

John S. Pemberton

After the Civil War was over, many former soldiers who had been wounded in the war, and treated with morphine, became addicted to the drug.  It is believed that Dr. John S. Pemberton, from Atlanta, may also have been addicted to morphine.  He'd been a Lt. Colonel in the Confederate Army.

Vin Mariani was advertised as a way for people to cure addictions, including an addiction to morphine.  Pemberton liked Vin Mariani and decided to develop his own brand.  He called it "Pemberton's French Wine Coca."

In 1886, Atlanta experimented with an early prohibition law.  Because Pemberton's drink had a wine base, he had to make a change to the formula.  His new drink - which he called "Coca Cola" - was sweetened with sugar instead of wine.  Pemberton's ads promised that the new drink still had:

the valuable tonic and nerve stimulant properties of the coca plant and cola nuts.

When Atlanta's attempt at prohibition failed, Pemberton was able to revive his wine product.  He sold the rights to Coca Cola - which would go on to become the most recognized brand in the world - to one of his former employees, Asa Griggs Candler.

By 1904, when people began to worry about the potentially addictive effects of coca leaves, the Coca Cola formula had to change.  From that time forward, tt eliminated any use of the coca plant.

Click on the image for a closer look at Dr. Pemberton.  To learn more about him, check out a biography at the Library of Congress.


Media Credits

Image online, courtesy Library of Congress.

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