History

It is rare to find any staple of American life that has its roots in the preceding century. This is one facet of the Coca-Cola Company that makes it very interesting. From its very meager beginnings, to a multinational fortune five hundred company that has the distinction to serve over one billion people in the course of a day. Dr. John Stith Pemberton founded the Coca-Cola Company in 1886. The first batch was mixed in a three legged brass kettle in his back yard. He then distributed it at the local pharmacy. That first year sales of Coke averaged nine drinks a day, and grossed $50. Since it actually cost $70 to produce the entire supply of product for that year money was actually lost.

Confectioner Joseph Biedenharm first bottled Coke in the summer of 1894. This complemented the fountain soda production of that year. This contributed to the spread of the popularity of the product that was consumed in every state and territory of the United States in 1895. Expansion was quick to follow to keep pace with growing demands for Coke. Its interesting to note that this growth was under direction of Asa G. Candler who purchaed Coca-Cola Corporation in its entirety for the sum of $2,300. It was also under his direction that the unique contoured bottle was developed. This has remained a distinct feature of this product and effectively separated it from its lesser competitors. A few years later in 1919 the Company was again sold. However, by this time it was sold for the very sizable sum of $25 million.

The buyer, banker Ernest Woodruff and a group of investors decided that this was a prime time to bring the company public. The initial offering was $40 per share and if the dividends were
reinvested, one share of stock today would be worth a very respectable $6.7 million. This can be marked as the point where Coke became a financially viable company. An investment in Coke is a solid one, and does not appear to be a high-risk company. Another point of note is that historically, Coke has paid a dividend four times a year since 1920. This is only a year after the initial stock offering. Coke stock has also split ten times in its lifetime. Although there is no formula for determining when Coke will allow their stock to split the proof that it does is very evident.

Even the United States government has sponsored Coke. During World War II, Coke dedicated itself to get every man in uniform a Coke for five cents no matter what the cost. Concurrently the United States government ordered three million bottles of Coke and the equipment to bottle, wash, and refill each of those bottles twice monthly. This is a similar strategy to the one that Gillette used in providing samples to the United States army and then having it followed by a very substantial order.

The 1960\'s are the next dates of notice. This is when the Coca-Cola Corporation made one of their largest acquisitions. Minute Maid Company are producers of high quality fruit juices and complemented the Coke family of products very nicely. Today Minute Maid is the largest producer of concentrate orange juice in the world. The Sixties were also the time when the metal cans that were shipped to the troops in Korea were available on the shelves of your local grocery store. This was the birth of the can of soda.

Life has not always been clear sailing for coke. During the mid 1980\'s, Coke decided that it needed a more modern flavor, New Coke was born. The product flopped due to a public out cry and out pouring of loyalty to the beverage that had become an American institution. The result of this was a return to the original formula. Coca-Cola Classic was born. Cherry Coke was also introduced at this time. The health conscience Eighties also brought about another revolution in the soft drink industry. Suddenly a large segment of the market segment that previously drank soda with a high sugar content wanted a drink with the same taste but not the same sugar content. Thus, Diet Coke became another staple beverage of the American people. This willingness to change is a factor that