The First Coca-Cola Ad Campaign Was Not What You Would Expect

A Cure for Addiction


Advertisement for Coca-Cola picturing soda fountain delivery of Coke to an office worker, 1907. The ad references the Pure Food and Drugs Act of 1906. (Photo by Jay Paull/Getty Images)

It might be a surprising fact that Coke was never meant to be a soda beverage. In fact, Pemberton first wanted to concoct a safer alternative to morphine — a substance that he became addicted to.

Pemberton was a chemist before joining the Civil War as a Confederate soldier. He endured a severe wound and was given morphine to ease the pain. When the war ended, he set out to cure his addiction the best way he knew how: creating a drink.

Working in his pharmacy, Pemberton created coca wine, but with Atlanta’s prohibition laws, he decided to switch to a non-alcoholic version of the drink.

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