1886 Coca-Cola invented in USA

Coke bottle c.1916

Coca-Cola remains Australia’s most popular soft drink but its history began on the other side of the Pacific. Coca-Cola syrup was invented by a pharmacist, John S Pemberton, in Atlanta, Georgia. The original recipe for the syrup called for coca leaf extract (aka cocaine) and caffeine from the kola nut. Swapping the K for a C led to the catchy name Coca-Cola.  Pemberton sold his syrup through the local Jacob’s Pharmacy, where staff added soda. It was sold for 5 cents per glass.

Drugstores in the USA were the source of restorative drinks via the popular soda fountains, where carbonated water was added to various syrups. They were considered medicinal and Pemberton claimed that his new product cured many diseases, including morphine addiction, indigestion, nerve disorders, headaches, and impotence.

According to Wikipedia, the ownership of the Coca-Cola company and name was a matter of dispute over the following years, but the business ended up in the hands of Atlanta businessman Asa Candler.  He expanded the distribution of Coca‑Cola syrup to soda fountains beyond Atlanta. In 1894, another soda-fountain operator became the first to put Coca‑Cola in bottles, making the drink portable. The first national bottling agreement was signed in 1899.

Candler founded the Coca-Cola Company that exists today. Bottled versions of popular soft drinks became more common after machine-made bottles became available in 1903, but the familiar contoured Coke bottle was not introduced until 1916.  It seems that Coca-Cola may have continued to contain cocaine until the substance was made illegal in 1914. It has even been suggested that, even though the formula was modified, Coke may still have had traces of cocaine as late as 1929.   > Soft drink timeline

Coca-Cola was first imported into Australia in the early 1900s but its sales were insignificant. In 1938 the first Australian bottling plant began production and, by the following year, there were several plants around Australia. Sales were initially slow as the drink was unfamiliar to most Australians but Coke became increasingly popular in Australia after World War II because of its use by visiting US service personnel.

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