This Week In Southern History: March 29, 1886 - The First Coca Cola is Brewed!
This Week In Southern History we go all the way back to March 29, 1886, and here’s what the world looked like then!:
The Hockey Association in England gives birth to what is now modern field hockey. This is not to be confused with Ice Hockey which was invented by Canadians because “What’s the point in having socialized medicine if we’re not gonna knock each other’s teeth out, eh?”1
Over in Bavaria as part of a deposition, King Ludwig II is detained only to mysteriously drown the following day. Little is known about the situation but my Uncle says that the Clintons had something to do with it!
In America, a new King was getting ready to be crowned. No, not a blue blood of royal lineage. Not a strapping young conqueror atop a white horse. Not even an actual person, as it were, but something that in its own field will probably never be dethroned. On March 29, 1886, near Atlanta, Ga, John Stith Pemberton brewed up the first batch of what would go on to be the king of all sodas: Coca-Cola!
John Stith Pemberton was not just a man determined to make it big in the soda game, no no no. DOCTOR John Pemberton was a pharmacist who invented the drink in hopes that it would be able to cure anything from the common cold, the mumps, seasonal flu, and even hysteria! I understand that these were simpler times and it is easy to judge with 20/20 lenses but it is so hilarious to think that the thing that made all my Memaws teeth fall out was originally thought to make you into Captain damn America.
Pemberton and his assistant Willis Venable struggled to land on the winning formula and had many misfires during the trial and error process. I’d like to imagine that scene went a little something like this:
Int. Night. Dr.John Sith Pembertons Soda Laboratory
A stressed out Dr. Pemberton paces around his lab, throwing beakers full of carbonated water at the walls. His assistant Willis Venable is fearful for his life because he has never seen the good Doctor in quite such a rage. Hoping to relieve his stress he speaks up…
Willis Venable: Dr. Pemberton it’s quite alright sir… we can try another formula!
Dr. John: Oh can we, Willis? WOW.. what a marvel idea.. let’s just try another formula! I sure am glad I pay top dollar to an assistant who brings to the table such revolutionary thoughts as “Let’s try again!” Why didn’t I think of that?
Willis Venable: Wow. Not the vibe I was expecting
Dr. John: We’ve f*cking tried everything, Willis! Everything! We tried no sugar, then we tried all sugar. We tried lowering the carbonation but that made it taste flat! Then just as we were finally getting somewhere you dropped some breath mints in the barrel and it blew up the whole f*ckin lab!
Willis Venable: Ok sir calm down I was only trying to be supportive..
Dr. John: You wanna be supportive, Willis? Do you want to finally earn all of the money that I begrudgingly give you to assist me in all of these commercial failures? Well if you do then PLEASE for the love of god… give me the answer… how can we make this formula worth a sh*t?
Willis Venable: What if we put cocaine in it?
Dr. John: Willis… you’re a g*d damn genius!
That’s right ladies and gentlemen and friends beyond the binary2, as you probably already knew, the very first formula for Coca-Cola contained that sweet, sweet Tony Montana aka Booger Sugar aka Yayo aka the reason I got fired from Tractor Supply aka Cocaine! Dr. Pempberton was looking for an alternative to morphine to be used to treat pain and for something that in and of itself would cure morphine addiction. As crazy as that sounds he wasn’t completely off base because I can tell you from some experience that it is more difficult to be addicted to morphine if you are instead addicted to cocaine. Although it is possible to be both. Guess Johnny Pembs didn’t really think it all the way through!
The word “Ubiquitous” gets thrown around a lot, but Coca-Cola truly is one of the few things in this World that is EVERYWHERE. They sell about 1.7 billion servings of the stuff a day, and even when you aren’t drinking it you are seeing its logo on television, hearing it peddled on the radio stations, and you’re probably lying to yourself if you say it isn’t one of the first things you think about when you see Santa Clause or a f*ckin’ polar bear! Along with Mickey Mouse, The Nike Swoosh, and Keith Richards, the Coca-Cola brand will outlive us all!
And to think… it all started when a former Confederate Soldier (gross) and Pharmacist came home from the war with a morphine addiction and decided to do something about it…
Dr. John would go on to sell his formula to Asa Candler in 1887 for $2,300. That is the equivalent to $68,689.14 in today’s money.
Boy…. you’d have to be coked outta your f*ckin mind to make that deal!
Thanks for reading:)
I may have made this up
Scooter from Sleep With Me podcast uses this phrase all the time and I think it’s nifty