Coca-Cola Company Summary

  • Last updated on November 10, 2022

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 Pemberton, John StithPemberton, invented Coca-Cola syrup and mixed it with carbonated water to create a soda fountain drink. Pemberton’s bookkeeper, Frank Robinson, named the drink and designed the trademark, which would be registered in 1893. They sold the syrup to local soda fountains.Coca-Cola Company[Coca Cola Company]

Before he died in 1888, Pemberton sold his business to several partners. By 1891, Atlanta pharmacist Asa G. Candler, Asa G.Candler had acquired sole ownership for $2,300. On January 29, 1892, he formed the corporation, the Coca-Cola Company. Candler opened manufacturing plants in other states, and by 1895 Coca-Cola was sold throughout the United States. He also developed new Marketing;cola drinksmarketing ideas, such as distributing coupons for free drinks, as well as selling calendars, clocks, and other souvenirs bearing the product’s trademark. In 1899, Candler gave Benjamin Thomas and Joseph Whitehead exclusive rights to bottle and distribute Coca-Cola. They developed high-speed bottling and a distribution system that became a model for the American Soft drink industrysoft drink industry.

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.

(Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

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.

Further Reading
  • 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.

Advertising industry

Alcoholic beverage industry

Cola industry

Food-processing industries

Multinational corporations

Categories: History