History of Product Names & Trademarks: Coca-Cola

About the history and origins of famous product names and trademarks, in this case Coca-Cola.

COCA-COLA The 1st batch of Coca-Cola was mixed in 1886 in a 3-legged iron pot in the backyard of John S. Pemberton, a Confederate veteran who opened a drugstore in Atlanta after the Civil War. His friend and bookkeeper, F.M. Robinson, named the drink after its 2 main ingredients: coca, the dried leaves of a South American shrub, and cola, an extract of the kola nut. When Pemberton died in 1888, ownership of the soft drink was sold for $2,300. The American public coined the nickname "Coke," much to the dismay of company executives. Advertising insisted: "Ask for Coca-Cola by its full name; nicknames encourage substitution." However, customers continued to order "Coke" and it was finally registered as a legal trademark (Supreme Court decision, 1920). Today Coca-Cola is not only America's most popular soft drink, but it is widely sold throughout the world. The syrup from which it is made remains a company secret.

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