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Coca-Cola Advertising

Probably the most recognizable of all soft drink advertising items are those that were produced to promote Coca-Cola. John S. Pemberton, an Atlanta pharmacist, invented the popular soft drink in 1886. Mr. Pemberton was attempting to create a patent medicine. His efforts resulted in a flavored syrup that, when mixed with carbonated water, was deemed excellent by those who tried it. The mixture was named Coca-Cola by Dr. Pemberton’s book keeper, Frank M. Robinson, and was sold at the soda fountain at Jacob's Pharmacy in Atlanta for 5 cents per glass.

Advertising was a huge factor in Coca-Cola's success from the beginning. Asa Candler, who bought the Coca-Cola formula from Dr. Pemberton in 1887, aggressively marketed the product to pharmacies outside of Atlanta. Mr. Candler used newspaper ads, coupons for free drinks, and a multitude of novelty souvenirs to promote the soft drink. These early advertising pieces are now quite rare and valuable.

Today, both vintage and current Coca-Cola advertising pieces are prized by advertising collectors. The most sought after Coca-Cola advertising pieces include tip trays, calendars, coolers, mirrors, and thermometers.

Quick Facts

  • The original Coca-Cola formula, which was marketed as a tonic, contained extracts from the caffeine-rich kola nut as well as trace amounts of cocaine. Coke still contains caffeine, but cocaine was removed from the formula in 1905
  • Frank M. Robinson, Dr. Pemberton's book keeper and partner, had perfect penmanship. He named the new soft drink Coca-Cola because he thought the two Cs looked attractive
  • The most expensive Coca-Cola collectible ever sold is a marble and alabaster soda fountain from the 1893 Columbian Exposition in Chicago. The item sold for $4.5 million at a 2012 live auction

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