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When was Coca-Cola invented?

01/21/10

Show me the nugget

1886

What: Atlanta pharmacist John Pemberton wasn’t trying to create a fizzy soft drink, though. His interest was in making French Wine Coca, a cure-all tonic sold mostly to upper-class customers. French Wine Coca’s main ingredients were Bordeaux wine and coca leaves. That’s right, coca leaves — AKA where cocaine comes from.

Why: In 1885, Atlanta passed new prohibition laws, and Pemberton set about creating a non-alcoholic alternative to his popular tonic. The first glass was sold at a nearby pharmacy, where Pemberton’s syrup was combined with carbonated water — known to be good for one’s health. Pemberton’s bookkeeper, Frank Robinson, coined the Coca-Cola name and the logo still bears his distinctive, flowing script. Despite the temperance rules in Atlanta — and until his death in 1888 — Pemberton’s original French Wine Coca continued to be much more popular than the new, carbonated and non-alcoholic Coca-Cola product.

Get this: Pemberton’s original recipe called for 5 ounces of coca leaf for every gallon of Coca-Cola syrup. Six years later, under a different owner, the coca amount dropped by 90%. By the early 1900s, all traces of cocaine had been removed from the recipe. Today, the coca flavoring comes from a cocaine-free extract of the coca leaf, manufactured by just one processing plant in New Jersey that is specially licensed by the U.S. government. Stimulating!

A little more: The first glass of Coca-Cola sold for just 5 cents. If you want to learn more about the beverage’s history, take a look at its heritage timeline.

Learn about a small Coca-Cola innovation being tested in select markets. Sally Herships reports for Marketplace.

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After you listen to Marketplace, do you wish the fun would just keep going? The Daily Nugget is here to help. Each day or close to it we'll find a nugget of information related to something in the news. Who knows what the Nugget might be? From the minute to the monumental, The Nugget will satisfy your cranial cravings.

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