Skip to Main Content
Click text to edit
Add a note to this section

Passage Tools
  • Flag

The Origins of Coca-Cola


Coca-Cola history began in 1886 when the curiosity of an Atlanta pharmacist Dr. John S. Pemberton, led him to create a distinctive tasting soft drink that could be sold at soda fountains. He created a flavored syrup and took it to his neighborhood pharmacy, where it was mixed with carbonated water and deemed “excellent” by those whom have sampled it. Dr. Pemberton’s partner and bookkeeper, Frank M. Robinson, is credited with naming the beverage “Coca‑Cola” as well as creating the design of the trademarked, distinctive script that is still used today. The first servings of Coca‑Cola were sold for 5 cents per glass. During the first year, sales initially averaged a modest nine servings per day in Atlanta. Today, daily servings of Coca‑Cola beverages are estimated at 1.9 billion globally.


[1] In 1888, Dr. Pemberton sold portions of his business to various parties, just two years after creating what was to become the world’s #1-selling sparkling beverage however only a few years before his death. [2] The majority of the interest was sold to Atlanta businessman, Asa G. Candler; under Mr. Candler’s leadership, distribution of Coca‑Cola expanded to soda fountains beyond Atlanta. [3] In 1894, impressed by the growing demand for Coca‑Cola and the desire to make the beverage portable, Joseph Biedenharn installed bottling machinery in the rear of his Mississippi soda fountain, becoming the first to put Coca‑Cola in bottles. [4] The three entrepreneurs purchased the bottling rights from Asa Candler for just $1. [5] Benjamin Thomas, Joseph Whitehead and John Lupton developed what became the Coca‑Cola worldwide bottling system. [6] Large scale bottling was made possible just five years later, when in 1899, three enterprising businessmen in Chattanooga, Tennessee secured exclusive rights to bottle and sell Coca‑Cola.


Among the biggest challenges for early bottlers was the imitations of the beverage by competitors coupled with a lack of packaging consistency among the 1,000 bottling plants at the time. The bottlers agreed that a distinctive beverage needed a standardized, distinctive bottle, and in 1916, the bottler’s approved the unique contour bottle. The new Coca‑Cola bottle was so distinctive it could be recognized in the dark, and it effectively set the brand apart from competition. Over the years, the Coca‑Cola bottle has been inspiration for the work of artists across the globe — a sampling of which can be viewed at the World of Coca‑Cola in Atlanta. The contoured Coca‑Cola bottle was trademarked in 1977.


The first marketing efforts in Coca‑Cola history were executed through coupons promoting free samples of the beverage. Considered an innovative tactic in 1887; couponing was then followed by newspaper advertising and the distribution of promotional items bearing the Coca‑Cola script to participating pharmacies.


[ ] Many fondly remember the 1971 Hilltop Singers performing “I’d Like to Buy the World a Coke” or the 1979 “Have a Coke and a Smile” commercial featuring a young fan giving Pittsburgh Steeler “Mean Joe Greene” a refreshing bottle of Coca‑Cola. Though these marketing campaigns began in the 1970s, Coca‑Cola commercials are still aired today.

This passage was adapted from “Coca-Cola History.” 

Directions: Choose the option for the underlined portion that best expresses the idea in standard written English and that is most consistent with the style and tone of the passage. If the original version is correct, select NO CHANGE. If there is a question provided, choose the best answer to the question.

Among the biggest challenges for early bottlers was the imitations of the beverage by competitors coupled with a lack of packaging consistency among the 1,000 bottling plants at the time.