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, took it to his neighborhood pharmacy, where it was mixed with carbonated water and deemed “excellent” by those who sampled it. Dr. Pemberton’s partner and bookkeeper, Frank M. Robinson, is credited with naming the beverage “Coca‑Cola” as well as designing the trademarked, distinct script, still used today.
Prior to his death in 1888, just two years after creating, Dr. Pemberton sold majority of his business interest to Atlanta businessman, Asa G. Candler. Under Mr. Candler’s leadership, distribution of Coca‑Cola expanded to soda fountains beyond Atlanta. In a candy store in Vicksburg, Mississippi, brisk sales of the new fountain beverage called Coca-Cola impressed the store’s owner, Joseph A. Biedenharn. In 1894, due to 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. He began bottling Coca-Cola to sell, using a common glass bottle called a Hutchinson. Biedenharn sent a case to Asa Griggs Candler, who owned the Company. Candler thanked him but took no action.
Two young attorneys from Chattanooga, Tennessee believed they could build a business around bottling Coca-Cola. In a meeting with Candler, Benjamin F. Thomas and Joseph B. Whitehead obtained exclusive rights to bottle Coca-Cola across most of the United States — for the sum of one dollar. A third Chattanooga lawyer, John T. Lupton, soon joined their venture. The three pioneer bottlers divided the country into territories and sold bottling rights to local entrepreneurs. By 1909, nearly 400 Coca-Cola bottling plants were operating, most of them family-owned businesses.
The first servings of Coca‑Cola were sold for 5 cents per glass. During the first year, sales averaged a modest nine servings per day in Atlanta. Today, daily servings of Coca‑Cola beverages are estimated at 1.9 billion globally.