Saturday May 8, 2021’s Smile of the Day: Coca-Cola
On this Day:
In 1886, Jacob’s Pharmacy in Atlanta sold the first Coca-Cola (at that time it contained cocaine).
Coca-Cola, or Coke, is a carbonated soft drink manufactured by The Coca-Cola Company. Originally marketed as a temperance drink and intended as a patent medicine, it was invented in the late 19th century by John Stith Pemberton and was bought out by businessman Asa Griggs Candler, whose marketing tactics led Coca-Cola to its dominance of the world soft-drink market throughout the 20th century. The drink’s name refers to two of its original ingredients: coca leaves, and kola nuts (a source of caffeine). The current formula of Coca-Cola remains a trade secret; however, a variety of reported recipes and experimental recreations have been published.
The Coca-Cola Company produces concentrate, which is then sold to licensed Coca-Cola bottlers throughout the world. The bottlers, who hold exclusive territory contracts with the company, produce the finished product in cans and bottles from the concentrate, in combination with filtered water and sweeteners. A typical 12-US-fluid-ounce (350 ml) can contains 38 grams (1.3 oz) of sugar (usually in the form of high-fructose corn syrup). The bottlers then sell, distribute, and merchandise Coca-Cola to retail stores, restaurants, and vending machines throughout the world. The Coca-Cola Company also sells concentrate for soda fountains of major restaurants and foodservice distributors.
The Coca-Cola Company has on occasion introduced other cola drinks under the Coke name. The most common of these is Diet Coke, along with others including Caffeine-Free Coca-Cola, Diet Coke Caffeine-Free, Coca-Cola Zero Sugar, Coca-Cola Cherry, Coca-Cola Vanilla, and special versions with lemon, lime, and coffee. Coca-Cola was called Coca-Cola Classic from July 1985 to 2009, to distinguish it from “New Coke”. Based on Interbrand’s “best global brand” study of 2015, Coca-Cola was the world’s third most valuable brand, after Apple and Google. In 2013, Coke products were sold in over 200 countries worldwide, with consumers drinking more than 1.8 billion company beverage servings each day. Coca-Cola ranked No. 87 in the 2018 Fortune 500 list of the largest United States corporations by total revenue.
Confederate Colonel John Pemberton, wounded in the American Civil War and addicted to morphine, also had a medical degree and began a quest to find a substitute for the problematic drug. In 1885 at Pemberton’s Eagle Drug and Chemical House, his drugstore in Columbus, Georgia, he registered Pemberton’s French Wine Coca nerve tonic. Pemberton’s tonic may have been inspired by the formidable success of Vin Mariani, a French-Corsican coca wine, but his recipe additionally included the African kola nut, the beverage’s source of caffeine.
It is also worth noting that a Spanish drink called “Kola Coca” was presented at a contest in Philadelphia in 1885, a year before the official birth of Coca-Cola. The rights for this Spanish drink were bought by Coca-Cola in 1953.
In 1886, when Atlanta and Fulton County passed prohibition legislation, Pemberton responded by developing Coca-Cola, a nonalcoholic version of Pemberton’s French Wine Coca. It was marketed as “Coca-Cola: The temperance drink”, which appealed to many people as the temperance movement enjoyed wide support during this time. The first sales were at Jacob’s Pharmacy in Atlanta, Georgia, on May 8, 1886, where it initially sold for five cents a glass. Drugstore soda fountains were popular in the United States at the time due to the belief that carbonated water was good for the health, and Pemberton’s new drink was marketed and sold as a patent medicine, Pemberton claiming it a cure for many diseases, including morphine addiction, indigestion, nerve disorders, headaches, and impotence. Pemberton ran the first advertisement for the beverage on May 29 of the same year in the Atlanta Journal.
By 1888, three versions of Coca-Cola – sold by three separate businesses – were on the market. A co-partnership had been formed on January 14, 1888, between Pemberton and four Atlanta businessmen: J.C. Mayfield, A.O. Murphey, C.O. Mullahy, and E.H. Bloodworth. Not codified by any signed document, a verbal statement given by Asa Candler years later asserted under testimony that he had acquired a stake in Pemberton’s company as early as 1887. John Pemberton declared that the name “Coca-Cola” belonged to his son, Charley, but the other two manufacturers could continue to use the formula.
Charley Pemberton’s record of control over the “Coca-Cola” name was the underlying factor that allowed for him to participate as a major shareholder in the March 1888 Coca-Cola Company incorporation filing made in his father’s place. Charley’s exclusive control over the “Coca-Cola” name became a continual thorn in Asa Candler’s side. Candler’s oldest son, Charles Howard Candler, authored a book in 1950 published by Emory University. In this definitive biography about his father, Candler specifically states: “on April 14, 1888, the young druggist Asa Griggs Candler purchased a one-third interest in the formula of an almost completely unknown proprietary elixir known as Coca-Cola.” The deal was actually between John Pemberton’s son Charley and Walker, Candler & Co. – with John Pemberton acting as cosigner for his son. For $50 down and $500 in 30 days, Walker, Candler & Co. obtained all of the one-third interest in the Coca-Cola Company that Charley held, all while Charley still held on to the name. After the April 14 deal, on April 17, 1888, one-half of the Walker/Dozier interest shares were acquired by Candler for an additional $750.
In 1892, Candler set out to incorporate a second company; “The Coca-Cola Company” (the current corporation). When Candler had the earliest records of the “Coca-Cola Company” destroyed in 1910, the action was claimed to have been made during a move to new corporation offices around this time.
After Candler had gained a better foothold on Coca-Cola in April 1888, he nevertheless was forced to sell the beverage he produced with the recipe he had under the names “Yum Yum” and “Koke”. This was while Charley Pemberton was selling the elixir, although a cruder mixture, under the name “Coca-Cola”, all with his father’s blessing. After both names failed to catch on for Candler, by the middle of 1888, the Atlanta pharmacist was quite anxious to establish a firmer legal claim to Coca-Cola, and hoped he could force his two competitors, Walker and Dozier, completely out of the business, as well.
John Pemberton died suddenly on August 16, 1888. Asa Candler then decided to move swiftly forward to attain full control of the entire Coca-Cola operation.
Charley Pemberton, an alcoholic and opium addict, unnerved Asa Candler more than anyone else. Candler is said to have quickly maneuvered to purchase the exclusive rights to the name “Coca-Cola” from Pemberton’s son Charley immediately after he learned of Dr. Pemberton’s death. One of several stories states that Candler approached Charley’s mother at John Pemberton’s funeral and offered her $300 in cash for the title to the name. Charley Pemberton was found on June 23, 1894, unconscious, with a stick of opium by his side. Ten days later, Charley died at Atlanta’s Grady Hospital at the age of 40.
In Charles Howard Candler’s 1950 book about his father, he stated: “On August 30 , he Asa Candler became the sole proprietor of Coca-Cola, a fact which was stated on letterheads, invoice blanks and advertising copy.”
With this action on August 30, 1888, Candler’s sole control became technically all true. Candler had negotiated with Margaret Dozier and her brother Woolfolk Walker a full payment amounting to $1,000, which all agreed Candler could pay off with a series of notes over a specified time span. By May 1, 1889, Candler was now claiming full ownership of the Coca-Cola beverage, with a total investment outlay by Candler for the drink enterprise over the years amounting to $2,300.
In 1914, Margaret Dozier, as co-owner of the original Coca-Cola Company in 1888, came forward to claim that her signature on the 1888 Coca-Cola Company bill of sale had been forged. Subsequent analysis of other similar transfer documents had also indicated John Pemberton’s signature had most likely been forged as well, which some accounts claim was precipitated by his son Charley.
On September 12, 1919, Coca-Cola Co. was purchased by a group of investors for $25 million and reincorporated in Delaware. The company publicly offered 500,000 shares of the company for $40 a share.
In 1986, The Coca-Cola Company merged with two of their bottling operators (owned by JTL Corporation and BCI Holding Corporation) to form Coca-Cola Enterprises Inc. (CCE).
In December 1991, Coca-Cola Enterprises merged with the Johnston Coca-Cola Bottling Group, Inc.
Coca-Cola’s advertising has significantly affected American culture, and it is frequently credited with inventing the modern image of Santa Claus as an old man in a red-and-white suit. Although the company did start using the red-and-white Santa image in the 1930s, with its winter advertising campaigns illustrated by Haddon Sundblom, the motif was already common. Coca-Cola was not even the first soft drink company to use the modern image of Santa Claus in its advertising: White Rock Beverages used Santa in advertisements for its ginger ale in 1923, after first using him to sell mineral water in 1915. Before Santa Claus, Coca-Cola relied on images of smartly dressed young women to sell its beverages. Coca-Cola’s first such advertisement appeared in 1895, featuring the young Bostonian actress Hilda Clark as its spokeswoman.
1941 saw the first use of the nickname “Coke” as an official trademark for the product, with a series of advertisements informing consumers that “Coke means Coca-Cola”. In 1971, a song from a Coca-Cola commercial called “I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing”, produced by Billy Davis, became a hit single. During the 1950s the term “cola wars” emerged, describing the on-going battle between Coca-Cola and Pepsi for supremacy in the soft drink industry. Coca cola and Pepsi were competing with new products, global expansion, US marketing initiatives and sport sponsorships.
Coke’s advertising is pervasive, as one of Woodruff’s stated goals was to ensure that everyone on Earth drank Coca-Cola as their preferred beverage. This is especially true in southern areas of the United States, such as Atlanta, where Coke was born.
Some Coca-Cola television commercials between 1960 through 1986 were written and produced by former Atlanta radio veteran Don Naylor (WGST 1936–1950, WAGA 1951–1959) during his career as a producer for the McCann Erickson advertising agency. Many of these early television commercials for Coca-Cola featured movie stars, sports heroes, and popular singers.
During the 1980s, Pepsi-Cola ran a series of television advertisements showing people participating in taste tests demonstrating that, according to the commercials, “fifty percent of the participants who said they preferred Coke actually chose the Pepsi.” Statisticians pointed out the problematic nature of a 50/50 result: most likely, the taste tests showed that in blind tests, most people cannot tell the difference between Pepsi and Coke. Coca-Cola ran ads to combat Pepsi’s ads in an incident sometimes referred to as the cola wars; one of Coke’s ads compared the so-called Pepsi challenge to two chimpanzees deciding which tennis ball was furrier. Thereafter, Coca-Cola regained its leadership in the market.
Selena was a spokesperson for Coca-Cola from 1989 until the time of her death. She filmed three commercials for the company. During 1994, to commemorate her five years with the company, Coca-Cola issued special Selena coke bottles.
The Coca-Cola Company purchased Columbia Pictures in 1982, and began inserting Coke-product images into many of its films. After a few early successes during Coca-Cola’s ownership, Columbia began to underperform, and the studio was sold to Sony in 1989.
Coca-Cola has gone through a number of different advertising slogans in its long history, including “The pause that refreshes”, “I’d like to buy the world a Coke”, and “Coke is it”.
In 1999, The Coca-Cola Company introduced the Coke Card, a loyalty program that offered deals on items like clothes, entertainment and food when the cardholder purchased a Coca-Cola Classic. The scheme was cancelled after three years, with a Coca-Cola spokesperson declining to state why.
The company then introduced another loyalty campaign in 2006, My Coke Rewards. This allows consumers to earn points by entering codes from specially marked packages of Coca-Cola products into a website. These points can be redeemed for various prizes or sweepstakes entries.
In Australia in 2011, Coca-Cola began the “share a Coke” campaign, where the Coca-Cola logo was replaced on the bottles and replaced with first names. Coca-Cola used the 150 most popular names in Australia to print on the bottles. The campaign was paired with a website page, Facebook page, and an online “share a virtual Coke”. The same campaign was introduced to Coca-Cola, Diet Coke & Coke Zero bottles and cans in the UK in 2013.
Coca-Cola has also advertised its product to be consumed as a breakfast beverage, instead of coffee or tea for the morning caffeine (per Wikipedia).
First, a Story:
Did you hear about the Pepsi truck driver who was fired? It seems he tested positive for Coke.
Second, a Song:
“Rum and Coca-Cola” is a popular calypso song composed by Lionel Belasco with lyrics by Lord Invader. The song was copyrighted in the United States by entertainer Morey Amsterdam and was a hit in 1945 for the Andrews Sisters.
The song was published in the United States with Amsterdam listed as lyricist and Jeri Sullivan and Paul Baron as composers. The melody had been previously published as the work of Venezuelan calypso composer Lionel Belasco on a song titled “L’Année Passée,” which was in turn based on a folk song from Martinique. The lyrics to “Rum and Coca-Cola” were written by Rupert Grant, another calypso musician from Trinidad who used the stage name Lord Invader.
The song became a local hit and was at the peak of its popularity when Amsterdam visited the island in September 1943 as part of a U.S.O. tour. Although he claimed never to have heard the song during the month he spent on the island, the lyrics to his version are clearly based on the Lord Invader version, with the music and chorus being virtually identical. However, Amsterdam’s version strips the song of its social commentary. The Lord Invader version laments that U.S. soldiers are debauching local women who “saw that the Yankees treat them nice/and they give them a better price.” Its final stanza describes a newlywed couple whose marriage is ruined when “the bride run away with a soldier lad/and the stupid husband went staring mad.” The Amsterdam version also hints that women are prostituting themselves, preserving the Lord Invader chorus which says, “Both mother and daughter/Working for the Yankee dollar.”
Since the Yankee come to Trinidad
They got the young girls all goin’ mad
Young girls say they treat ’em nice
Make Trinidad like paradise
The Andrews Sisters also seem to have given little thought to the meaning of the lyrics. According to Patty Andrews, “We had a recording date, and the song was brought to us the night before the recording date. We hardly really knew it, and when we went in we had some extra time and we just threw it in, and that was the miracle of it. It was actually a faked arrangement. There was no written background, so we just kind of faked it.” In under ten minutes they made a record that sold seven million units and sat at number one on the Billboard magazine chart for seven weeks. Maxine Andrews recalled, “The rhythm was what attracted the Andrews Sisters to ‘Rum and Coca-Cola’. We never thought of the lyric. The lyric was there, it was cute, but we didn’t think of what it meant; but at that time, nobody else would think of it either, because we weren’t as morally open as we are today and so, a lot of stuff—really, no excuses—just went over our heads.” Some stations refused to play the song because it mentioned rum, and alcohol couldn’t be advertised on the air.
In the Songs That Won The War Vol. 8 Swing Again, Yes Indeed! CD program notes, Edward Habib writes, “‘Rum and Coca Cola’ has naughty lyrics but not quite naughty enough to deny its hit status…During the forties, comedians as songwriters was the norm, Phil Silvers, Joey Bishop and Jackie Gleason all had a part in writing hit songs. While there were a number of records of ‘Rum and Coca Cola’, the Andrews Sisters’ version was far and away the most popular.”
After the release of “Rum and Coca-Cola”, Belasco and Lord Invader sued for copyright infringement of the song’s music and lyrics, respectively. In 1948, after years of litigation, both plaintiffs won their cases, with Lord Invader receiving an award of $150,000 in owed royalties. However, Morey Amsterdam was allowed to retain copyright to the song. Lord Invader also wrote a follow-up song to “Rum and Coca-Cola”, titled “Yankee Dollar”.
Calypsonian and Calypso Monarch winner, Devon Seale, first premiered his tribute to Lionel Belasco entitled “Lio”, at the Calypso Revue tent in 1999. That year, he would take it to the annual Calyspo Monarch finals. In the tribute, Seale references the Andrew Sisters’ recording of “Rum and Coca-Cola” and the winning copyright case. He sings, “I bring evidence quick to show them that I write the song in 1906”, and “thirty years later Invader changed the lyrics … I am Lio-Lionel Belasco.” Since the Andrew Sisters’ release, many other artists have shared their renditions of the popular tune, including American singer-songwriter, Harry Belafonte.
“Rum and Coca-Cola” spent ten weeks at the top of the Billboard Pop Singles chart. On the Harlem Hit Parade chart, it went to number three (per Wikipedia).
Wartime Radio Revue: “BROADCASTING LIVE, all across America, to all the ships at sea, and to all our boys in uniform stationed abroad, this is WARTIME RADIO REVUE!”
And so begins another evening with Pete Jacobs and his 16-piece big-band. Interspersing the hits of the Thirties and Forties, along with late-breaking news-stories from the war-years, as well as several original songs, and even some 1940-style radio commercials, listening to this band is like taking a time-machine back to a World War Two U.S.O. show. And with their three young female vocalists, a hot, driving rhythm section, and eight-piece horn section, the “classic-swing” sound is both full and authentic!. And when you add in their “armed-forces style” khaki-colored uniforms, it’s all there!
Formed in November of 1997, they quickly established themselves with appearances at such swingin’ landmarks as The Hollywood Bowl, New York’s Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, Catalina’s Casino Ballroom, and have been a regular monthly featured band for many years at Disneyland.
Dancing is what it’s all about! Few bandleaders understand – and can deliver – what dancers want better than Jacobs. “I actually started this band because of my own interest in swing-dancing. When I started learning the Lindy-Hop (the original swing-dance from the 1930’s), I wanted to recreate the music the way it was played back then when the big-bands would play for packed houses and dance halls. It doesn’t matter how great the musicianship of the band is if you can’t dance to it.” And the people who flock to every swing music venue they can find overwhelmingly agree! (from https://petejacobsband.com/wartimeradiorevue/)
Here is Peter Jacobs and the Wartime Radio Revue from a live concert at Lincoln Center, New York City performing “Rum and Coca-Cola”. I hope you enjoy this (and this is for Lindsay Meredith!).
Thought for the Day:
“People equate patents with secrecy, that secrecy is what patents were designed to overcome. That’s why the formula for Coca-Cola was never patented. They kept it as a trade secret, and they’ve outlasted patent laws by 80 years or more.” – Craig Venter
Have a great day!
Dave & Colleen
© 2021 David J. Bilinsky and Colleen E. Bilinsky