1st batch of Coca-Cola: March 29,1886
Working over a three-legged brass kettle in his backyard in Atlanta, Georgia, a pharmacist named John Pemberton stirs up a carbonated syrup concoction. His invention is a soda drink, but one that he thinks has curative powers–a “brain tonic” that can ease headaches and calm nerves.
It’s not Pemberton’s first attempt at creating flavorful medicine. Previously, he had mixed wine and coca leaves, resulting in a kind of cocaine cocktail he called “Pemberton’s French Wine Coca.” He had described it as being beneficial to “clergymen, lawyers, literary men, bankers, ladies, and all whose sedentary employment causes nervous prostration, irregularities of the stomach, bowels and kidneys who require a nerve tonic and a pure, delightful diffusable stimulant.”
It had been a big hit at the pharmacy where he worked, but when Atlanta banned alcohol, he had to come up with a non-alcoholic version. The result was the beverage that his bookkeeper suggested they call Coca-Cola after its two main ingredients–coca leaves and kola nuts, which added caffeine. A little more than a month later, on May 8, the first glass of Coca-Cola was sold at Jacob’s Pharmacy in Atlanta for five cents.
In addition to relieving headaches and bad nerves, Pemberton hoped his drink would help fight morphine addiction. Pemberton had been slashed across his chest with a sword when he had been a Confederate Army officer, and like many wounded Civil War veterans, he had become addicted to morphine.
His Coca-Cola was not quite as popular as his wine drink had been–about nine servings were sold each day. Through the rest of 1886, it generated a total of $50 in sales.
The next year Pemberton sold his secret formula to an Atlanta businessman named Ada Candler for a little more than $2,000. When Pemberton died a year later, he had no idea how famous his drink will become.
Within a few years, Candler, a marketing genius, was promoting the soda wherever he could–it’s now-famous script logo could be seen on signs, calendars, clocks, fans, urns, cabinets and newspapers all over town. In 1889, more than 60,000 drinks were sold. While it was promoted mainly as a “delicious and refreshing” soft drink, Candler was also able get doctors to recommend Coca-Cola for mental and physical exhaustion, headaches and depression. Within 10 years, he turned it into a national brand.
Early in the 20th century, the coca leaves were taken out of the formula. The caffeine remained.
More slices of history
Alcohol tax tied to fewer fatal car crashes
When Illinois increased taxes on beer, wine, and spirits in 2009, there was a 26 percent reduction in alcohol-related fatal car crashes, say researchers from the University of Florida, with the greatest reduction being among young people. Deaths in that group fell by 37 percent.
Researchers used data on fatal car crashes in Illinois from January 2001 to December 2011 collected by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. They analyzed patterns of fatal crashes 104 months before and 28 months after the new alcohol taxes began.
The details of the car crash data allowed them to analyze the effect of the tax, in terms of driver’s age, gender, race, and level of blood alcohol measured at the time of the crash–0.15 percent was defined as impaired driving and above this level was defined as drunken driving. They also took into account other factors including traffic safety programs, economic conditions, and the weather. They compared alcohol-related car crashes with non-alcohol related car crashes and similarly analyzed car crashes in Wisconsin, which had not introduced any tax changes. Taking all of these factors into account, the researchers concluded that the decrease in car crashes was tied to the tax increase on alcohol.
They found that increasing alcohol taxes can affect a large range of drinkers who drive, including extremely drunk drivers. This study has implications on how policymakers can make communities safer when it comes to alcohol and driving.
Tylenol found not effective for back pain, arthritis
Acetaminophen–marketed under brand names Tylenol, Panadol and Mapap–is not a very effective way to manage lower back pain or arthritis, according to a new study published in The BMJ.
Researchers performed 13 randomized controlled trials designed to determine the safety and efficacy of acetaminophen in dealing with lower back and neck pain, as well as osteoarthritis. After reviewing the studies, they found that when compared to a placebo, acetaminophen is largely ineffective for low back pain and offers only “minimal short-term benefit” for osteoarthritis of the hips or knees.
The scientists said current guidelines recommending acetaminophen as the first analgesic option for back and arthritis pain need to be updated. Instead, they suggested, more emphasis should be placed on physical treatments, including exercise.