Image courtesy Alex Ling/stock.xchng Chinese Coca-Cola label

Introduction to How Coca-Cola Works

On May 8, 1886, at Jacob's Pharmacy in Atlanta, Ga., Dr. John Stith Pemberton mixed carbonated water with a syrup he'd invented. The result was the world's first glass of Coca-Cola. The price for one glass was five cents, and Pemberton advertised it as a health tonic.

Pemberton didn't work alone -- his bookkeeper, Frank Robinson, suggested the product's name, which he wrote using sweeping, cursive letters. This became the product's logo, and you can see it on bottles, cans, trucks and signs today. While the Coca-Cola Company has introduced many new products and used numerous marketing slogans throughout its history, this logo has remained virtually unchanged for more than 120 years. It's identifiable in much of the world, and it's one of the reasons that Coca-Cola is one of the world's most-recognized brands.

Fizzy Math

According to the Coca-Cola press site, if you put all of the Coca-Cola ever produced into 8-ounce contour bottles, you'd have a total of six trillion bottles. Placed end to end, these bottles would make a tower 85 times taller than Mount Everest, which could reach to the moon and back 1,677 times.

An 8-ounce contour bottle of Coca-Cola produced in the United States is about 7.5 inches (19.05 centimeters) tall. Six trillion of them would make a tower approximately 710,227,272 miles (1,142,999,998 kilometers) tall. This is about 33,787,194 miles (54,375,217) too short to make a round-trip to the moon 1,677 times when it's at its closest point to the Earth. Additionally, 85 stacked Mount Everests would be only 468 miles (753 kilometers) high -- significantly shorter than a tower that could make 1,677 round trips to the moon.

Bottled for Success

This worldwide recognition didn't come overnight, though. At first, Pemberton sold only a few glasses of Coca-Cola per day. In 1887, the Coca-Cola Company distributed coupons for free samples -- it claims that it was the first to use this method of attracting new customers. In 1894, candy

maker Joseph Biedenharn became the first person to bottle Coca-Cola. Suddenly, the beverage became available to people who didn't have easy access to a soda counter.

Bottling proved to be the key to the soda's success. The Coca-Cola Company started developing its global bottling network in the late 1800s. Between 1890 and 1900, Coca-Cola syrup sales shot up 4,000 percent. By 1919, the company had bottling plants in Europe and Asia, and in 1920, there were more than 1,000 bottling plants in the United States.

Today, Coca-Cola is one of the most prevalent brands in the world. The company sells more than 1.3 billion drinks every day in 200 countries worldwide. Coca-Cola has also had an impact on popular culture. Many people remember the words to "I'd Like to Buy the World a Coke," also known as "I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing," a song that was part of an advertising campaign more than 35 years ago. Coca-Cola's holiday ad campaigns have also influenced the way people around the world picture Santa Claus.

For more on Coca-Cola and related topics, check out the links on the next page.

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Sources

  • Today in History: May 8 http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/today/may08.html
  • Coca-Cola 120th Anniversary http://www.thecoca-colacompany.com/presscenter/presskit_120.html
  • Coca-Cola: Anniversary of an Icon http://www.thecocacolacompany.com/presscenter/presskit_contour_bottle.html
  • 75 Years of the Coca-Cola Santa http://www.thecoca-colacompany.com/presscenter/presskit_santa2006.html