In an endeavor to invent the ultimate medicine and the perfect drink rolled into one, pharmacist Dr. John Stith Pemberton in the late 1890s attempted a version of a popular cocaine-laced wine known as Vin Mariani, touting it as a remedy for morphine addiction.
Earlier, in 1886, responding to local prohibition laws, Pemberton had developed the first recipe for "Coca-Cola." It must have packed quite a kick – he kept the five ounces of coca leaves per gallon of syrup, and added caffeine derived from the kola nut.
As Pemberton's health declined he sold shares to a few people. By 1892 entrepeneur Asa Griggs Candler had acquired all rights to the company – some say unfairly – when he formed Coca-Cola Inc. His marketing genius was undisputed — he was among the first to use modern marketing techniques. Confectioner Joe Biedenharn was the first to bottle Coca-Cola in summer 1894. An iconic product was born.
Today, Coca-Cola products are sold worldwide with soft drink permutations ranging from Cherry Coke to Diet Coke as well as the "classic" formula. And even though a 1985 attempt to change the recipe resulted in the resounding flop infamously known as New Coke, people all over the world today "have a Coke and a smile" at the rate of one billion drinks per day.