coca-cola history

First listed on the New York Stock Exchange in 1986, Coca-Cola Enterprises has a strong Coca-Cola heritage that dates back to the earliest days of Coca-Cola bottling in the late 19th century.

In 1899 – 13 years after Atlanta pharmacist Dr. John Pemberton began producing Coca-Cola syrup for sale in fountain drinks – two Chattanooga businessmen secured exclusive rights to bottle and sell Coca-Cola for most of the United States. 

Bottling Coca-Cola

Recognizing the need to create a bottler network, Benjamin F. Thomas and Joseph B. Whitehead, with the support of Chattanooga businessman John T. Lupton, began granting other entrepreneurs bottling franchise rights.

The first franchise began operations in 1901, serving parts of Tennessee and other nearby locations under the ownership of Mr. Thomas and James F. Johnston, grandfather of former Coca-Cola Enterprises Chairman of the Board, Summerfield K. Johnston, Jr. In the early 1980s, Mr. Johnston helped initiate a phase of consolidation designed to improve system efficiency and effectiveness.

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Norman Rockwell (1894-1978)


Born in New York City, Norman Rockwell decided early to become an artist and trained at the New York School of Art, the National Academy of Design and the Art Students League.


Between 1928 and 1935, Rockwell painted six different illustrations that were used in Coca-Cola calendars, serving trays, posters and in one Saturday Evening Post ad.

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By the time of its 50th anniversary, the soft drink had reached the status of a national icon in the USA. In 1935, it was certified kosher by Atlanta Rabbi Tobias Geffen, after the company made minor changes in the sourcing of some ingredients.[27]

Original framed Coca-Cola artist's drawn graphic presented by The Coca-Cola Company on July 12, 1944 to Charles Howard Candler on the occasion of Coca-Cola's "1 Billionth Gallon of Coca-Cola Syrup."

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Frank Mason Robinson (1845 in Corinth, Maine – 1923 in Atlanta, Georgia), was an important early marketer of what became known as Coca-Cola.

As a young man he was in Iowa where he married Laura Clapp. In 1886 Frank Mason Robinson settled in Atlanta, where he was secretary and bookkeeper for the Pemberton Chemical Company.

Dr. John Pemberton was experimenting with a medicial formula which included coca leaves and kola nuts as sources of its ingredients. Frank Mason Robinson gave the formula the name Coca-Cola, writing the name in Spencerian script which was popular with bookkeepers of the era. His script of Coca-Cola remains one of the most recognized trademarks in the world. The formula was introduced in May 1886 at the Jacobs Pharmacy in Atlanta.

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In 1887, another Atlanta pharmacist and businessman, Asa Candler bought the formula for Coca Cola from inventor John Pemberton for $2,300. By the late 1890s, Coca Cola was one of America's most popular fountain drinks, largely due to Candler's aggressive marketing of the product. With Asa Candler, now at the helm, the Coca Cola Company increased syrup sales by over 4000% between 1890 and 1900.

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