Coca-Cola’s Secret Formula for Happiness

A shiny red can that reads “Coca-Cola” and a whole list of ingredients: carbonated water, sugar, caramel, phosphoric acid, caffeine and natural flavorings. Coca-Cola is all about the magic of good taste & flavor – and apparently something highly secret. The natural flavorings are a unique blend of vegetable extracts and spices from around the world. Coca-Cola has never told what the 7 secret ingredients are, and this “Merchandise 7X” has remained the world’s most famous trade secret since Coca-Cola’s invention in 1886.

When John Stith Pemberton sold the first glass of Coca-Cola in his pharmacy in 1886, he was entering a new market for soda fountain tonics that promised health benefits along with refreshment. In 1869, Pemberton already experimented extensively with extracts of the coca leaf and kola nut, initially marketing a moderately successful health drink called “French Wine Coca.” Fifteen years later, one of Pemberton’s partners, Frank M. Robinson, invented the name Coca-Cola, derived from its central ingredients. Robinson also registered the product’s famous script logo. A marketing phenomenon was born.

From that day on, there has always been a mystique about the “secret formula” of Coca-Cola. Folklore even said that the original beverage contained cocaine, at least until the “Pure Food and Drugs Act” was voted in 1906. The official position of the Coca-Cola Company, however, is that the drink contained extracts of the coca leaf, but never the drug. Over the years, the Coke’s attorneys have fought in court to protect Coca-Cola’s secret formula. It’s been said that the ingredient list is kept in a security vault in a bank in Atlanta, Georgia and only a few employees know the full recipe, and those employees are not allowed to fly on the same plane and cannot be left alone with strangers while they are together. Over the years, Coca-Cola’s secret formula has been the subject of books, speculation and marketing lore.

But the real “secret ingredients” reach far above vegetable extracts or spices. Coca-Cola’s true magic is all about love, perspective, universality, friendship, purpose, humor and optimism. It’s a way of living spontaneous & finding happiness. It’s the belief that together we can create a more positive reality, where global love and joy rule supreme.

The current global “The Coke Side of Life” advertising campaign invites people to live in full color and listen to their hearts. The “Coke Side” is the positive side of life and focusses on universal experiences. Coke is probably the most famous cultural icon that links people from all-over the world. At its core, the concept of sharing is the purest essence of Coca-Cola. Drinking a Coca-Cola brings people from different nationalities, cultures and walks of life together. “The Pause that Refreshes” is a universal language and global connector, happiness in a bottle.

Coca-Cola Remix Art: “Universal Love on the Coke Side of Life” by Yker Moreno / DJ Spinbalon.

Steve Penley’s Coke Art – Bold, Impassioned & Vivid

In 2008, Coca-Cola Company celebrates the artistic contributions of famed Georgia artist, Steve Penley, by presenting an exhibition of his work at the New World of Coca-Cola in Atlanta. On loan from public and private collectors, the exhibit features Penley’s most significant Coca-Cola inspired pieces, including several new paintings created for the attraction.

The Penley collection follows the year-long exhibition of Andy Warhol paintings on loan from the Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh and will be the first time a collection of Penley’s Coca-Cola themed work of this scale will be presented to the public.

Best known for his iconic portraits, Steve Penley is one of America’s most popular southern artists. His signature painting style incorporates bold color, strong brush strokes and vivid imagery.

“Like Warhol, Penley finds inspiration in everyday iconic images that are familiar and accessible to everyone,” said Ted Ryan, The Coca-Cola Company, Archives Collection Manager. “His work reflects a sense of optimism and positivity that makes Coca-Cola an ideal muse for his art.”

The collection is accompanied by tags handwritten by Penley featuring the back-story behind each piece.

“I love to paint historical subjects, and Coke is such a part of history that it naturally fits into my genre”.

“The colors of Coke are so well know that it is fun to experiment with new colors and see these familiar images in a new way”.

“I love to dig in to the rich dark color of the Coke in the traditional bell shaped glass. The light sparkles and shines with the reflections of the ice”.

“The Coke bottles lines and curves are fun to explore and throw color on. The bottle is a piece of art itself so it is an easy subject”.

On display through May 2009, the Penley collection at The World of Coca-Cola features more than 15 pieces, including video footage of the artist at work in his studio.

You can find more info on the blog of Phil Mooney, historian/archivist for The Coca-Cola Company for the last 30 years: http://www.coca-colaconversations.com/my_weblog/2008/05/our-new-steve-p.html

    Other useful links:

The World of Coca-Cola http://www.woccatlanta.com

Steve Penley’s website http://www.stevepenley.com

Special thanks to The Coca-Cola Archives Dept.

Asa Candler, founder of the Coca-Cola Company

Asa Griggs Candler, founder of the Coca-Cola Company, was also a real estate developer and banker and famous for his philanthropy. Born in 1851 as one of eleven children of a prosperous merchant and planter, Candler was brought up with strong religious beliefs and a firm work ethic.

Candler became a successful manufacturer of patent medicines, and in 1888 he bought the Coca-Cola production rights from founder John Pemberton. He immediately realized the business potential of Coca-Cola and acquired complete ownership of the Coca-Cola business for $2,300 by 1891. He changed the formula several times to improve taste, improve shelf life and insure he had a unique product, because several people had known Pemperton’s original formula. Within four years, Candler’s merchandising flair helped expand consumption of Coca-Cola to every corner of the United States. Using innovative advertising and distribution methods, Candler marketed this new product no longer as a medecine but as a soft drink. In 1908 the Coca-Cola script had been spread across 2.5 million square feet of walls and 10,000 windows displayed Coca-Cola signs.

Until 1899, Coca-Cola was only sold as an over-the-counter fountain drink. Dubious about portable packaging, Candler sold the bottling rights in 1899 for one dollar. The first two bottling plants were located in Chattanooga and Atlanta.


Coke Bottling Plant installation at the World of Coca-Cola, Atlanta

The success of the operations was quickly realized and by 1929, 27 countries had bottling facilities. The 1916 introduction of the patented contour bottle made Coca-Cola instantly recognizable from imitators by taste, sight, and touch.

On Christmas Day 1917, Candler decided to give the Coca Cola Company to his children. Asa’s oldest son Howard took full control over Coca-Cola, and his brothers and sisters took seats on the board. In 1919, the Candler family sold the Coca-Cola Company to Ernest Woodruff.

Over the years, the Atlanta business tycoon diversified his interests by investing in real estate and banking. Candler’s great wealth enabled him to make large donations for good causes and education. His younger brother Warren, a Methodist bishop, advised him in these matters. Candler’s best-known philanthropy was in the form of a personal check for $1 million, donated to defray the costs of establishing Emory University in Atlanta. Over his lifetime his gifts to the university totaled about $8 million.

John Pemberton, the inventor of Coca-Cola

 John Pemberton, the inventor of Coca-Cola

John Stith Pemberton was born in Knoxville, USA. He studied at the Medical College of Georgia and later obtained a degree in pharmacy from a school in Philadelphia. In 1855, Pemberton moved to Columbus, Georgia, with his wife, Anna Eliza Clifford Lewis, and their only son, Charles Ney Pemberton. Here, he practiced primarily as a druggist for fourteen years, though he also performed other medical procedures.
In May 1862, Pemberton enlisted as a first lieutenant in the Confederate Army.
For five years after the war, Pemberton worked as a partner with Dr. Austin Walker, a local and wealthy physician. During this time, Pemberton invested all of his money in researching and developing a line of proprietary items, which included perfumes and botanical medicines. During this time, there was a large demand for home remedies and tonics in the United States, especially in large cities.

In 1869, Pemberton moved to Atlanta to start a lucrative business. He developed, and successfully sold, a drink he called “French Wine Coca.” Based on a similar European product called “Vin Mariana,” Pemberton’s tonic combined wine and the extract from coca leaves. Coca extract was commonly used at the time in medicines.

 John Pemberton, the inventor of Coca-Cola

In 1885, with talk of Prohibition, Pemberton developed a drink without alcohol. Pemberton added the extract from cola nuts, a strong stimulant containing caffeine, along with the coca, and he replaced the wine with sugar syrup. On May 18, 1886, Pemberton decided on a final formula for his new drink.
On June 28, 1887, the Coca-Cola trademark patent was granted. Jacobs Pharmacy, in Atlanta, Georgia, was the first place to serve Coca-Cola from a soda fountain. The coca extract was eventually removed from the drink in 1905.
Pemberton’s financial troubles led him to sell, trade, and give away portions of his company to various individuals. Pemberton died on August 16, 1888, of stomach cancer, leaving behind many unfinished formulas. Coca-Cola eventually became one of the most prosperous businesses in the US.

Source: Pemberton, John S. Biography by Delores C. S. James.

Andy Warhol Exhibit

A traveling exhibition of select Andy Warhol artwork is now on display in the Pop Culture Gallery at the new World of Coca-Cola, Atlanta, US. See the world’s most recognized beverage as interpreted by the pope of Pop Art. The paintings, pencil sketches and screenprints (all about Coca-Cola except for a self-portrait) are on loan from the Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh (up to May 2008).
“Warhol took art and he made art available to the everyday man and everybody understood it,” tells Ted Ryan, the exhibit’s curator for Coca-Cola. “Everybody owns a piece of Coke, or a piece of Marilyn, at least in the imagination.”
World of Coca-Cola: 121 Baker St., Atlanta, USA.
Website: www.woccatlanta.com

All images and artworks are property of The Andy Warhol Foundation © All rights reserved.