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onsidered one of the most known brands around the world, Coca-Cola has to be the second most consumed liquid in the world, with water being on top. I presume that many of you may know that this popular fizzy drink started off as a medical drug, but do you know the story behind its famous creator? The Tragic Life Story of John Pemberton, the Inventor of Coca-Cola

John Stith Pemberton

John Pemberton was born in the state of Georgia in 1831. Coming from a modest family, he was able to receive a good education, graduating from the Reform Medical College of Georgia in 1848, and in 1850 he even received his license to become a pharmacist. Life was all rainbows and bright sunshine as he fell in love and got married to Annie Elise Clifford Lewis. A year later, their son was born and they named him Charles Ney Pemberton.

A decade later in 1861, the Civil War broke out and Pemberton was recruited by the State Guards of Georgia, part of the confederate states of America. At the battle of Columbus, Pemberton sustained some major injuries and in order to relieve the pain, he had his first taste of morphine, a medical drug that is still used today as a strong painkiller.

After the war finished in 1865, he came back to his normal life, with only one small but vital difference to the existence of Coca-Cola, an addiction to morphine. He knew that this would slowly but surely ruin his life, so he had to come up with some sort of medicine to relieve him from his addiction.

One man’s addiction leads to a tasty invention

That is why he started working on a new medicated syrup that would help not only him but anyone that had an addiction to various drugsIn 1885, he came up with something that was known as a coca wine, a sort of Coca-Cola drink that tasted sort of like medication and contained alcohol.

Coca-Cola advert from 1886 (Source: Adbranch)

He started serving samples to some of his clients from the pharmacy and they seemed to like the drink/medicine, especially those who had a drug addiction. Besides its beneficial properties of stopping drug addictions, it had a refreshing taste that people who weren’t affected by an addiction started to like.

Due to alcohol being prohibited in 1886, Pemberton was forced to remove the alcohol from his drink and renamed it Coca-Cola (a non-alcoholic version of the wine coca).

Various bottles of Coca-Cola from different decades. Photo by Renato Trentin on Unsplash

Pemberton saw that his drink started to attract a lot of attention for its unique taste, that is why he decided to make the medicine into a refreshing beverage, removing some of the medical content and replacing it with more sugar and a substitute to sugar which at the time was cocaine.

The drink was so acclaimed that Pemberton founded the Coca-Cola Company and launched it on the 29th of January, 1892.

If it hadn’t been for the Civil War taking place and Pemberton being injured in battle, he might have never developed an addiction to morphine and therefore would have not needed to come up with a syrup to aid his addiction, resulting in a world without Coca-Cola.

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