The Coca-Cola Company is one of the largest American corporations, and its iconic, eponymous beverage is the best-selling soft drink in the world. Through the years, the company has deployed memorable advertising in all media, the latest technology, and a model production and distribution system to increase and maintain its success.
On May 8, 1886, an Atlanta pharmacist, John Stith
Before he died in 1888, Pemberton sold his business to several partners. By 1891, Atlanta pharmacist Asa G.
In 1919, investors led by Ernest Woodruff and W. C. Bradley purchased the company for $25 million. In 1923, Ernest Woodruff’s son Robert Woodruff became president. During the 1920’s, Woodruff introduced revolutionary merchandising tools such as a six-bottle carton and a metal, open-top cooler that enabled Coca-Cola to be sold ice-cold. He envisioned Coca-Cola as an international product. The Summer Olympics of 1928 saw the first sale of Coca-Cola at an Olympiad. The automatic fountain dispenser was introduced at the 1933 Chicago World’s Fair. During World War II, Woodruff built more plants overseas to supply the armed forces, and many non-Americans tasted Coca-Cola for the first time.
A boy sells Coca-Cola from a roadside stand in Georgia in 1936.
In the following decades, global recognition and sales grew, as the company developed successful packaging, marketing, and new products. In 1955, new ten-, twelve- and twenty-six-ounce “king-size” and “family-size” bottles became popular, and plastic two-liter bottles arrived in 1977. The company’s advertising slogans have been among the most recognized in American culture. They have included It’s the Real Thing (1942, 1969), Coke Is It! (1982), and The Coke Side of Life (2006). While Coca-Cola (sometimes sold as Coke) remained the company’s flagship product, by 2008, the company produced and distributed more than 2,800 beverage products and 450 brands, accounting for 1.5 billion consumer servings per day and operations in more than two hundred countries.
Hays, Constance. The Real Thing: Truth and Power at the Coca-Cola Company. New York: Random House, 2004. Pendergrast, Mark. For God, Country, and Coca-Cola. New York: Basic Books, 2000. Watters, Pat. Coca-Cola: An Illustrated History. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1978.
Alcoholic beverage industry