John Pemberton, Creator of Coca Cola: Facts & Stories You Didn't Know

By | November 27, 2019

test article image
Coca-Cola is one of the most recognizable brands in the world. (Photo by Cindy Ord/Getty Images for NYCWFF)

There are few products as American as Coca-Cola. The soft drink brand is so deeply ingrained in American culture that it's hard to imagine a time before its existence, but it's only been a little over 130 years since a pharmacist in Atlanta named John Pemberton created his secret formula. He was actually trying to produce a medicinal tonic, but while he failed at developing the next greatest wonder drug, Pemberton did make a crisp, delicious beverage. Here is the story of John Pemberton, Coca-Cola, and good, old American ingenuity. 

test article image
Most 1800s drugstores had soda fountains. (

Why Did Pharmacists Mix Soft Drinks In The First Place?

A century ago, nearly every corner drugstore has a soda fountain. It's how root beer got so big, and it's how Dr Pepper got started. Patrons sat at the long counter to sip one of the various fizzy, sweet concoctions mixed up by the pharmacist and served by the soda jerk. But why were pharmacists even involved in the soda business in the first place?

It has to do with chemistry and the medicinal properties of carbonated water. Long ago, mineral water infused with carbon dioxide was thought to have healing properties, so carbonated water (or soda water) was prescribed to ease digestive problems, headaches, fatigue, and more. Since soda was viewed as a medicine, it was only natural for pharmacists to dabble in soda beverage experimentation. John Pemberton was one such pharmacist.