Quenching thirst and delivering moments of joy for over a century, Coca-Cola is more than just a beverage. This legendary fizzy delight was born in the late 19th century in Atlanta, Georgia, out of a pharmacist’s curiosity, and today, it stands as an iconic global brand. With a top-secret formula and an unmistakable crimson hue, Coca-Cola has seeped into our culture, history, and everyday moments, creating a legacy that goes far beyond just satisfying thirst. From shaping the modern image of Santa Claus to reaching the farthest corners of the world, the Coca-Cola story is as effervescent and captivating as the drink itself. Whether it’s a summer BBQ, a movie night, or a break from a busy day, Coca-Cola has been there ready to deliver a refreshing pause in the rush of life. It is more than just a cola – it’s a celebration of life’s most cherished moments and a testament to the enduring power of human connection.
Image: Felix Wong
1. The Dawn of Refreshment
Coca-Cola was invented in 1886 by John S. Pemberton, a pharmacist from Atlanta, Georgia.
2. Original Intention
Coca-Cola was initially marketed as a nerve tonic and medicine to cure headaches.
3. The Secret Formula
The Coca-Cola recipe is one of the world’s most closely guarded secrets. The recipe is supposedly known by only a select few within the company.
4. The Birth of Coke
The name “Coca-Cola” came from two of its original ingredients, coca leaves, and kola nuts. The current formula no longer contains cocaine.
5. Early Days Advertising
The first-ever Coca-Cola ad slogan was “Drink Coca-Cola. It’s delicious and refreshing,” which was first used in 1904.
6. Santa Claus We Know
Coca-Cola helped shape the modern image of Santa Claus as plump and jolly with a red and white suit through its advertising. Prior to 1931, Santa Claus was represented in a multitude of forms, but all that changed when Coca-Cola began publishing advertisements in popular magazines that year. Archie Lee, an executive at the D’Arcy Advertising Agency collaborating with Coca-Cola, envisioned a campaign that portrayed Santa as a wholesome figure who was both believable and iconic. To bring this vision to life, Coca-Cola enlisted the talents of Michigan-born illustrator Haddon Sundblom. His mission was to create advertising imagery that depicted Santa Claus himself, rather than a man simply dressed up as Santa.
7. Annual Christmas Trucks
Coca-Cola Christmas trucks, featured in the ‘Holidays are coming’ ad, have been a festive tradition since 1995.
8. Share a Coke Campaign
The “Share a Coke” campaign, in which bottles were personalized with popular names, increased U.S. sales for the first time in a decade in 2014.
9. The Contour Bottle
The iconic contoured Coca-Cola bottle was patented in 1915 and was intended to ensure the product could be recognized even in the dark.
10. A Sparkling Name
The name ‘Coca-Cola’ was suggested by Pemberton’s bookkeeper, Frank Robinson. He also developed the stylized script that is still used today.
11. World War II Commitment
During World War II, Coca-Cola vowed to provide every U.S. serviceman with a bottle of Coke for five cents, regardless of the cost.
12. Coca-Cola and Pepsi Rivalry
The competition between Coca-Cola and PepsiCo has been called the “Cola Wars” and is one of the most enduring business rivalries in history.
13. World’s Largest Beverage Company
The Coca-Cola Company is the world’s largest beverage company, offering over 500 brands in more than 200 countries.
14. Coca-Cola Space Mission
Coca-Cola became the first soft drink to be consumed in space during the 1985 Challenger mission. It developed a special can to be used in space, allowing astronauts to enjoy the beverage in zero gravity.
15. Interesting Acquisition
Coca-Cola acquired Minute Maid in 1960, marking its first venture outside of soft drinks.
16. Green Coca-Cola
In 2012, Coca-Cola released a green version of its drink in Argentina, made from natural ingredients and with less sugar; the drink was called ‘Coca-Cola Life.’
17. Coca-Cola Freestyle
The Coca-Cola Freestyle machine, introduced in 2009, allows consumers to mix their own personalized drinks with over 100 different Coca-Cola brand beverages.
18. Formula Changes
In 1985, Coca-Cola changed its formula, leading to a consumer backlash. The company quickly reverted to the old formula, calling it Coca-Cola Classic.
19. Coca-Cola and Movies
The Coca-Cola Company owned Columbia Pictures from 1982 to 1989 during which it produced hits like “Ghostbusters” and “The Karate Kid.”
20. The Real Thing
“It’s the Real Thing” is one of Coca-Cola’s most famous slogans, used in the 1960s and 1970s.
21. Coca-Cola Museum
The World of Coca-Cola, a museum in Atlanta, showcases the history of the Coca-Cola Company.
22. Iconic Super Bowl Ad
Coca-Cola’s 1971 “Hilltop” commercial, in which a group sings “I’d Like to Buy the World a Coke,” is one of the most iconic ads in Super Bowl history.
23. Official Olympic Sponsor
Coca-Cola has been an official sponsor of the Olympic Games since 1928, making it the longest-continuous partner.
24. Popular Collectables
Vintage Coca-Cola merchandise including coolers, glass bottles, and signs are popular collectables.
25. Coca-Cola Logo
The famous Coca-Cola logo was created by Frank Mason Robinson in 1886.
26. First Diet Drink
The Coca-Cola Company introduced the first-ever diet soft drink, Diet Coke, in 1982.
27. Environmental Initiatives
Coca-Cola announced in 2020 that it aimed to achieve “water neutrality” – returning as much water to the earth as it would use by 2020.
28. Polar Bear Mascot
The Polar Bear became a famous Coca-Cola mascot after its introduction in a 1922 advertisement.
29. First Canned Coke
Coca-Cola was first sold in cans in the 1950s, in addition to its traditional glass bottles.
30. An Interesting Lawsuit
In 2013, Coca-Cola was sued by an Italian businessman, claiming he found a Coca-Cola recipe in a notebook his father left.
31. Bringing Fanta to Life
During World War II, due to a trade ban with the U.S., German Coca-Cola invented Fanta to keep business alive.
32. War and Coke
Coca-Cola was exempted from sugar rationing during World War II, which helped it become a worldwide brand.
33. Coca-Cola is Not a Cola
In 1944, a court in Buffalo, New York, ruled that Coca-Cola was not a cola as it had less kola nut extract than other colas.
34. A New Market
Coca-Cola was sold in the Soviet Union for the first time in the late 1970s, marking a significant move during the Cold War era.
35. Bottling Innovations
Coca-Cola introduced plastic 2-litre bottles in 1978, a packaging innovation that has since become the industry standard. The Coca-Cola Company also introduced aluminium bottles in 2005 as a new resealable and recyclable packaging option. Coca-Cola’s PlantBottle, launched in 2009, is made partially from plant materials as an effort to reduce reliance on nonrenewable resources.
36. Revolutionizing Vending
Coca-Cola was the first company to offer coupons and pioneered the concept of the coupon vending machine.
37. Multipack Introduction
Coca-Cola was the first soft drink to be sold in a six-pack, a now-common way of buying soft drinks.
Image: Public Domain Pictures