1886: Coca-Cola Contained Cocaine in its Original Recipe

1886: Coca-Cola Contained Cocaine in its Original Recipe
Photo Credit To Wikipedia Commons/ One of the first coupons for a free glass of Coke

Story Highlights

  • Historical event:
  • 29 March 1886
  • At the time Coca-Cola was first made, alcohol was prohibited by law, but cocaine was not. So Coca-Cola became a soft drink with added cocaine.

Coca-Cola was invented by John Pemberton, a pharmacist from the U.S. State of Georgia.

In the American Civil War, he fought as a soldier on the side of the Confederacy. After he was wounded, he receiving morphine for the pain and developed a dependence on it, like a large number of war veterans.

After the war, he sought a substitute for morphine, so he developed a drink sold under the name “Pemberton’s French Wine Coca”. It consisted of alcohol in which coca leaves were soaked to release cocaine, kola nut as a source of caffeine, and damiana plant, which allegedly cured impotency.

John Pemberton, the inventor of Coca-Cola
John Pemberton, the inventor of Coca-Cola

Pemberton recommend his beverage particularly for intellectual workers, which were flocking to the expanding cities at the time.

However, when the local authorities in Atlanta introduced a ban on the use of alcohol (the forerunner of Prohibition) Pemberton had to make a new drink, without alcohol. On this day he produced the first measure of the beverage called Coca-Cola, which is essentially a non-alcoholic version of his former product.

It is interesting that Coca-Cola originally contained cocaine – it was not legally prohibited at the time. It was not until the late 19th century that the prohibition of cocaine was introduced, so that the recipe of Coca-Cola was changed and became more similar to the one used today.

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