The Coca-Cola Company was incorporated on this date in 1889, one year after John Pemberton’s death. Pemberton was the chemist who’d created Coke and he’d put his son Charles in charge.
Part of the Coke legend is that the syrup for the drink was created by ‘a druggist,’ but John Pemberton was more than that. He was a serious chemist who manufactured all kinds of home and commercial chemicals – the labs he set up at the Georgia Department of Agriculture to test chemicals are still in use.
He went to the Medical College of Georgia in Macon and studied medicine and pharmacy. When he graduated in 1850 he was licensed to practice Thomsonian medicine, a system based on botanical or herbal remedies to rid the body of toxins. He started J.S. Pemberton and Co. to manufacture ‘all the pharmaceutical and chemical preparations used in the arts and sciences.’
Eventually he began producing a drink called French Wine Coca, a concoction that consisted of extract of Peruvian coca leaf, ‘the purest wine, and the Kola nut.’ In fact, it was based on a French formula called Vin Mariani.
When Atlanta went dry in 1886, Pemberton took out the wine and substituted sugar syrup and changed the name to Coca-Cola, advertising it as the perfect temperance drink.
Pemberton had allowed Asa Candler and others to use the formula; in 1888, Candler bought exclusive rights to the formula and incorporated the company. In 1914, a court found that signatures on the document of sale were forged. In the meantime, Candler had incorporated a new company – the current one – in 1892 and in 1910 he burned all the company’s early records.
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It’s Andy Rooney’s birthday today and he is celebrating 91 years.
Born in Albany NY in 1919, he started at CBS in 1949 and has been on 60 Minutes since 1978. He is certainly proof that retirement isn’t right for everybody.