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Coca Cola Used To Contain Cocaine In Early Times; Even Got Its Name From It

I’m pretty sure that we all like some of the light effervescence right after our meals, be it dinner or lunch or even some evening snacks. Gulping down that cool black fizz with an awesome punch and a little hint of sugar on our palate is probably one of the best carbonated soft drinks that the food industry ever made.

In case you’re wondering, yes I’m talking about Coca Cola. But did you know that the original Coca Cola recipe in the 1880s contained cocaine? In fact the very name of the drink originates from the drug itself.

Origin Of Coca Cola

The birthplace of Coca Cola is in Atlanta which is the capital of Georgia in America. It was invented in 1885 by a pharmacist called John Pemberton.

Dr. John Pemberton, 1886

Initially, Pemberton owned a product called “French Wine of Coca” which had gained a lot of fame and momentum in the market. It was one of that classic, almost mystical patent medicines of the late 19th century and the people who profited from it claimed that it would virtually cure every problem one could possibly have from headaches to upset stomachs, everything. Sounds dicey, doesn’t it?

French Wine of Coca

French Wine of Coca was a heady mix of Bordeaux red wine mixed with caffeine and coca (cocaine) leaf extract which Dr. Pemberton sold in the market for $1. But because patent medicines were sold at $1 a bottle, Dr. Pemberton decided to make more money from it. He changed the formula a touch bit.

So Dr. Pemberton went to his backyard and formed the first ever Coca-Cola made from tons of sugar, caffeine and extract from cocaine leaves but since it would be marketed to children as well, he removed the alcohol.

The First Bottle Of Coca Cola

When Coca-Cola was invented, cocaine was legal and a standard ingredient in medicines.

And that’s how the soft carbonated drink was born.

Role Of Frank Robinson In The Making Of The Drink

Frank Robinson was the accountant of Dr. Pemberton who does not get much credit for his works. In fact, he is the person who invented the name “Coca Cola” in the first place.

The name “Coca” comes from the word cocaine, and the name “Cola” originates from the word Kola nuts which was where the caffeine came from. Robinson liked the alliterative sound of the name.

Frank Robinson

Not only did he invent the name but he also came with the beautiful Coca-Cola script that we all recognize as the company’s logo.


Read More: How Coca-Cola Has Been Integral To The Making Of Indian Politics Post-Independence


Was Coca-Cola Used As A Medicine?

At a time like the 18th century, most drugs were not considered illegal because the side effects or impact of the drugs were largely unknown.

Dr. Pemberton was of the impression that Coca-Cola was a brain tonic and intellectual beverage and advertised it as a patent medicine. He claimed that it not only cured headaches and stomach upsets but was a great Medicine for fatigue as well as sexual problems. Almost like a wonder medicine!

The first company logo of Coca Cola

A patented medicine is a proprietary medicine that is made and marketed under a patent and is available without a prescription. It consisted of ingredients and drugs like cocaine and opium and were rumored to cure an array of ailments. Sometimes these medicines also contained toxic metals like mercury and lead.

Fall Of The “Coca” In Coca-Cola

By the turn of the 19th century, Coca-Cola got caught in a scandal that would’ve almost burned down the entire empire. Cocaine was seen as a revolutionary drug in the late 19th century but at the turn of the century, things really started going against cocaine.

There was a scarcity of cocaine around the country and that became a huge problem for the company. In 1903, a New York-based paper ran an intensive study on the connections between cocaine and all the crimes in America. It was mayhem. People were afraid that even one ounce of cocaine would turn them into criminals.

Soon, the Pure Food and Drug Administration came along and gave their verdict that any sign or any semblance of the strain of cocaine has to be removed. However, the problem was rooted in the fact that the company needed to keep the cocaine in order to retain legal protection. So they began using coca leaf with the active cocaine removed.

And over time, that was removed too.

Coca-Cola endeared itself to the masses thanks to the stimulating cocaine used as a major ingredient. But even today, without the cocaine, Coca-Cola continues to be the world’s largest beverage company employing over 700,000 people worldwide!


Image Sources: Google Images

Sources: USA Today, New York Times, Business Insider

Find the Blogger: @Rishita51265603

This post is tagged under coca cola, cocaine, koca, kola seeds for caffeine, 1886, Dr. Pemberton, Frank Robinson, French Wine of Coca, patent medicine, sold for $1, cure for fatigue, stomach ailments, cure for sexual problems too, largest beverage company, extracts of coca leaves


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