On this day in 1886, a pharmacist in Atlanta, Georgia devised a syrup to deal with the symptoms of many people who found their way to his store. It was, of course, nearly a century before medical science would discover things like Epstein Barr syndrome. And it was certainly many decades earlier than genetic engineering or holistic medicine.
But Doc Styth (Dr. John Styth Pemberton) thought he sensed some common problems in the varied complaints. There was a lack of energy, a sense of tiredness even a touch of depression. And often there was a touch of stomach problems.
So this druggist combined sugar (to provide energy); caffeine (to step up your attention) and a touch of (send the children to bed) cocaine (to balance attitudes). To achieve this balance he used coca leaves (common at the time and it aided two of the ingredients). Since it had been current at the time, he offered his syrup as something that could be drunk with soda water. Leaning on the leaves he called it Coca Cola syrup. It was hardly a smashing success. (Pemberton only cleared a profit of $50 the first year.) He sold the formula to another pharmacist, Asa Candler. It was Candler (later mayor of Atlanta) who removed the cocaine and began to market it as a recreational drink and not just a hangover cure. Even Candler didn’t see the full potential and sold “bottling rights” to a couple of lawyers from Tennessee for $2. The drink, we hear, later became somewhat of a success.
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