Everyone has heard the stories of how Coca-Cola started life as a drink with medicinal properties, but just how true is it that it actually contained Cocaine?
The name itself is derived from two of its main ingredients. Coca is a leaf that contains cocaine, it is also a shortened version of the word Cocaethylene – which is a compound produced when Cocaine and Ethanol coexists in the blood. While cola referred to the addition of Kola Nut, a caffeine rich fruit native to Africa.
It was John Smith Pemberton who first took the idea from a Parisian named Angelo Mariani. He was selling a really popular wine and cocaine mixture called Vin Mariani which Pemberton saw huge potential in and so started to produce his own version in the states called Pemberton’s French Wine Coca.
In 1885 Pemberton then took to produce a version that didn’t contain the alcohol, the removal was due to temperance legislation.
This resulting drink was an early Coca-Cola. With its alcohol removed, the drink still contained the Coca leaf, including the cocaine. In fact it wasn’t until the early 20th Century that, under the orders of the then Coca-Cola company president (Asa Candler), that the cocaine was removed from the Coca leaf before adding to the recipe, producing the drink that people still love today.
I just wonder how much more popular it would have been had it stayed with its original recipe.