Coca-Cola during the 1880's
© 2012 Blaine Martin
Pemberton moves to Atlanta, a town of about 21,000 people, with his wife and son Charles. By most accounts he is a popular and respected member of the community. Soon he begins concocting a steady stream of proprietary medicines such as Indian Hair Dye, Gingerine, Triplex Liver Pills, Extract of Stillingia, and Globe Flower Cough Syrup. Unfortunately, he is very adept at borrowing money from associates and never paying it back. He is also known for selling the rights for his medicines to several parties at the same time and not transferring the rights.
Asa Candler arrives in Atlanta and begins work for pharmacist George Howard. Candler eventually marries Mr. Howard's daughter and in 1886 buys out the business renaming it Asa G. Candler & Company.
Pemberton begins sales of his new "French Wine of Coca" at 59 South Broad Street. It is dispensed in tall clear English-style flint bottles for the price of one dollar.
Pemberton moves his laboratory to a two-story red brick rental house at 107 Marietta Street, and manufactures French Wine of Coca in the back room and basement of the home. He bottles it under a coal shed in the backyard.
Frank Robinson, an accountant by trade, arrives in Atlanta hoping to start an advertising business. Soon Mr. Robinson is in the basement at 107 Marietta helping Doc Pemberton brew his concoctions and encouraging the old doctor to experiment with a new product.
In April and May customers sample various modifications of an entirely new five cent drink at Venable's Fountain. The fountain is on the ground floor of Jacobs Pharmacy at 2 Peachtree Street. Venable's Fountain is one of only five soda fountains in Atlanta.
In the fall, Robinson carefully draws the script Coca-Cola lettering, creating what would become the most recognized logo in the world.
Pemberton falls ill and gives up on the new drink (it sold only 25 gallons that first year). Robinson sticks with it, and in the spring of 1887 he passes out free sample tickets in Atlanta, and mails them to people's homes.
That same year he oversees the production of 500 street car signs, 1600 posters, 45 tin signs and numerous oil cloth banners.
June 6 – Pemberton registers Coca-Cola Syrup and Extract with the patent office, leaving out any mention of Robinson.
July 8 – Pemberton again leaves out Robinson and personally sells the controlling 2/3 interest in Coca-Cola to George Lowdnes and Willis Venable for $1200. Soon all the assets of Coca-Cola would be moved to the basement of Jacob's Pharmacy.
Asa Candler gives the down-on-his-luck Robinson a job as a part-time bookkeeper.
Dec. 14 – Woolfolk Walker buys Lowdes and Venable's 2/3 of Coca-Cola and moves everything back to 107 Marietta and the Pemberton Chemical Company where it started.
Robinson repeatedly tries to convince Candler to buy Coca-Cola and manufacture it but Candler has other interests. Finally he relents after trying Coca-Cola for his chronic headaches. Soon Candler buys out Pemberton's 1/3 then buys 1/2 of the remaining 2/3 from Walker. Now having controlling interest, Candler puts Robinson in charge of Coca-Cola.
Aug. 16 – Pemberton dies due to stomach ailments that plagued him most of his life. He was fifty-seven. After the funeral Candler has Samual Dobbs to take a wagon to pick up the assets of Coca-Cola from the Pemberton Chemical Company. The assets are deposited at the office of Asa. G. Candler & Company at 47 Peachtree Street.
Robinson is put in charge of making Candler's proprietary medicines, and soon the two men began to refine the taste and stability of the formula. Ironically the ingredients in the name of the drink – coca extract and the Kola extract – were both reduced to very small amounts. Coca because of a slowly growing concern over addiction and Kola because of its bitter taste.
Candler buys the remaining 1/3 interest from Woolfolk Walker and becomes the sole owner of the beverage.
A small May 1st advertisement in the Atlanta Journal declares Asa G. Candler & Company to be sole proprietors of Coca-Cola.