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Pepsi-Cola was born in North Carolina from a soda fountain beverage first known as “Brad’s Drink”. Caleb Davis Bradham ran a drugstore and served cola-based beverages to his customers. His own creation, (“Brad’s Drink” which became) Pepsi-Cola, arrived at the turn of the century. Pepsi-Cola few with the new (20th) century, with changing logos, bottle shapes, and the nickel-a-glass price. One big difference from Victorian Coca-Cola? Twice the size of that glass, for the same price.
We know original Coca-Cola (debuted 1886) did have cocaine in it–and not “a trivial amount”. The product began as a replacement for coca wine (just what it sounds like), when temperance laws outlaws alcohol, and Pemberton needed a replacement vector for his coca leaves. Looking back at vintage sources, it’s easy to see when cocaine was removed from Coca-Cola, and how the owners ensured their not-yet-trademarked product remained protected. Numerous credible scientists analyzed the syrup (from various retail locations), swearing to Coca-Cola’s freedom from cocaine, but the attacks didn’t stop overnight. Decades later, Coca-Cola maintained its status as a substance-free “refreshing drink”, a 180° switch from its Patent Medicine beginning.
“[Coca-Cola] has gained an enviable reputation, and has taken position at the very front of the leading and popular soda fountain beverages,” said The Atlanta Constitution of Atlanta, Georgia, on June 21, 1891. People loved the beverage (and its medicinal value), and many wrote testimonials in its favor. So why the complaints? A vintage article titled It Looks Like a Dangerous Drink, originally published in The Abbeville Press And Banner of Abbeville, South Carolina, on July 1, 1891 brings up concerns and presents arguments on both sides, urging consumers to draw their own conclusions. Had YOU been a consumer in 1891, what would you have thought?
In the 1890s, Coca-Cola bottled their carbonated beverage, first in cork-sealed bottles. Metal caps came along relatively quickly. The company went through many different glass bottles until settling on their branded shape that is still in use today. Coca-Cola’s logos changed very little through the years, and the Victorian-era Spencerian script is still Coke’s highly recognizable choice today. Each glass (or bottle), about 6 oz. each, sold for just 5¢. Initially promoted as a health-promoting, illness-defeating tonic (patent medicine), the beverage was soon advertised as a refreshing beverage…and with good reason.
Coca-Cola was born in Atlanta, and quickly gained popularity at drugstores and soda fountains, showing up very quickly a thousand miles away in mid-Kansas! Coca-Cola was touted for a wide variety of medicinal benefits, including nervous affections and sick headache. In less than fifteen years, Coca-Cola was widely known from New England to Los Angeles. Coca-Cola belongs on the long list of American Victorian Inventions.