Arguably, no company has made a more significant impact with refreshment beverages than The Coca-Cola company. Easily identified by its distinctive trademark and catchy slogans, the company has remained on top of the refreshment business for more than a century with branches in over 200 countries worldwide, proving that Coca-Cola is more than just a non-alcoholic beverage but a connection between people of the world.
For a company that has given the world its best-known taste, The Coca-Cola company started from humble beginnings with one man, Dr. John Atith Pemberton, a local pharmacist. On a sunny day on May 8, 1886, Dr. John Stith Pemberton walked down the street of Atlanta, Georgia, to Jacobs’ Pharmacy, carrying a jug of the first produced syrup for Coca-Cola.
The syrup was soon put on sale at the pharmacy for five cents a glass as a soda fountain drink after it was pronounced delicious and excellent by sampling customers. To name the new refreshing beverage, Dr. Pemberton’s bookkeeper and partner, Frank M. Robinson, suggested that the two Cs indicating the base ingredients—cocoa and cola—would look good on advertising. He then coined and penned the name Coca-Cola in his unique handwriting that remains the company’s trademark to date.
During the company’s first year, it made only a modest sale of nine drinks a day. Dr. Pemberton never realized the potential of the beverage he created as he gradually sold the business to various partners, including Asa G. Candler, who eventually secured complete ownership of the company.
Under Mr. Candler’s astute business acumen, the company was incorporated in 1892 and witnessed tremendous sales growth from about 9,000 gallons of syrup in 1890 to 370,877 gallons in 1900. As Coca-Cola gained fame for its unique taste and flavor, syrup-making plants were established in Dallas, Los Angeles, and Philadelphia. The product became available in every US state and territory and Canada.
In a futuristic expansion move, the Coca-Cola company in 1899 entered into its first deal with an independent bottling company, which allowed the company to buy the syrup and produce, bottle, and distribute the Coca-Cola drink, effectively laying the trend followed by other soft drinks companies.
In 1919, the company was again sold to a group of investors led by Ernest Woodruff’s Trust Company of Georgia for $25 million. During World War II, the company had a downturn in sales as products could not be shipped out. However, the post-World War II era saw a diversification of the company and the development and acquisition of new products.
Between 1946–1966, the company acquired rights to Fanta, a German-developed soft drink, introduced the first lemon-lime sprite drink and the first diet cola; and it successfully entered the citrus juice market with the acquisition of the Minute Maid Corporation in 1960.
In 2005, an annual report from the company showed a staggering piece of sales in over 200 countries globally. Over 500 Coca-Cola trademarked and licensed products accounted for 78% of the total sales. In 2010, the brand topped the charts as the first brand to exceed £1 billion in annual grocery sales.
As the Coca-Cola company continues to make its stamp of sharing “happiness” in a bottle and bringing people together, the company expands into new territories, gaining recognition as the best-selling soft drink company in most countries.