7 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Coca-Cola
We’re uncapping the beloved soft drink’s 132-year history.
Like most Americans, you’ve probably been enjoying the sweet, fizzy nectar of the gods otherwise known as Coca-Cola for your entire life. You’re likely also familiar with the tale of the soft drink’s slightly shady beginnings, as a medicine invented by Atlanta pharmacist Dr. John S. Pemberton in 1885. You’ve no doubt heard that it once contained actual cocaine.
But there’s also plenty you might not know about Coca-Cola from the course of its 132 history. So, before you crack open your next can, bottle, or pour yourself a glass, indulge in a bit of little-known Coca-Cola trivia courtesy of our friends at The Daily Meal:
1. It was created as an alternative to morphine.
A Confederate Colonel, John Pemberton developed an addiction to morphine after sustaining injuries in the Civil War. He ended up inventing the prototype for Coca-Cola’s recipe in a search of an opium-free substitute. The end result, which he called a “brain tonic and intellectual beverage,” was served for five cents a glass at his drugstore in Columbus, Georgia.
2. Its name was derived from 2 key ingredients.
The name Coca-Cola is derived from original drink’s two primary ingredients: the coca leaf and the kola nut. Extract of the coca leaf was essentially cocaine, while the kola nut provided caffeine. Pemberton’s partner and bookkeeper, Frank M. Robinson, is credited with naming the beverage “Coca‑Cola” as well as designing the logo, which is still used today.
3. It was originally alcoholic.
Because caffeine and cocaine weren’t enough, Pemberton’s original Coca-Cola formula also included a third intoxicant: alcohol. According to The Daily Meal, Coca-Cola was originally developed as a coca wine, which was first created in France in the 1860s. Wine was removed from the recipe after Atlanta passed prohibition legislation in 1886.
4. It originally contained 9 milligrams of cocaine per glass.
Before the cocaine was phased out of the recipe in 1903, it was estimated that each glass of Coke contained about 9 milligrams of cocaine—enough to make it a serious intoxicant. In 1988, The New York Times discovered that Coca-Cola still contained non-narcotic coca leaf extract. ''Ingredients from the coca leaf are used, but there is no cocaine in it and it is all tightly overseen by regulatory authorities,'' a Coca-Cola spokesperson confirmed to the paper at the time.
5. The recipe is locked in a vault.
If you dream of one day getting your hands on the recipe, we have bad news for you. The formula for modern Coca-Cola is locked away in a vault, which you can visit it at Atlanta’s World of Coca-Cola. Only two employees are said to know the exact formula, and they’re not allowed to travel together.
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6. The bottle was modeled after the cocoa pod.
In 1915, Indiana’s Root Glass Company was hired to create a new, instantly recognizable bottle for Coca-Cola. The staff wanted to base the design on the shape of either the coca leaf or kola nut, but because couldn’t find any photos or illustrations of them at the local library, they went with the cocoa pod instead. This bottle shape became standard in 1920.
7. There was a coke dispenser onboard the space shuttle.
Astronauts on board the space shuttle Discovery in 1995 were sent into orbit with the ultimate reminder of home: a Coke dispenser! The contraption, called a Fluids Generic Bioprocessing Apparatus, was meant to test if carbon dioxide, water, and syrup could be successfully mixed to form soda in space. The test was a success, and the astronauts were able to enjoy both Coke and Diet Coke in space.