Coca-Cola bottle 1916Coca-Cola syrup was invented by a pharmacist, John S Pemberton, in Atlanta, Georgia. It reputedly contained cocaine as well as caffeine and was a syrup, to which the Jacob’s Pharmacy staff added soda. It was sold for 5 cents per glass. The first national bottling agreement for Coca-Cola was signed in 1899. The drink became increasingly popular in Australia after World War II because of its use by visiting US service personnel.

Drugstores in the USA were the source of restorative drinks via the popular soda fountains, where carbonated water was added to various syrups. When Pemberton sold his business to an Atlanta businessman, distribution of Coca‑Cola expanded to soda fountains beyond Atlanta.

In 1894, another soda-fountain operator became the first to put Coca‑Cola in bottles, making the drink portable. Bottled versions of popular brands became more common after machine-made bottles became available in 1903, but the familiar contoured Coke bottle was not introduced until 1916.   > Soft drink timeline

Coca-Cola was imported into Australia from 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.

World War II changed everything, when the President of The Coca-Cola Company, R. W. Woodruff, decreed that his product should be available to every US serviceman or woman, no matter where they were. The US South Pacific headquarters was located in Brisbane and the Coca-Cola factory in that city became crucial to the fulfilment of this promise, running 24 hours a day.

In the post-war years, sales of Coke continued to grow and bottling franchises were initially granted to many soft-drink companies across Australia. Eventually, though, these were co-ordinated into a single franchise held by Coca-Cola Amatil.