On this day in history— in the year 1888— the creator of Coca-Cola, named John Stith Pemberton, died of stomach cancer.
Pemberton was just 57 years old at the time of his death; however, his creation has lived on well beyond the nineteenth century. In fact, the Atlanta-based corporation has amassed a value of approximately 71 billion U.S. dollars. Yet, despite its large success today, the origins of this sweet drink are significantly sourer.
Pemberton was born on January 8th, 1831, in Knoxville, Georgia. He studied pharmacy and medicine at the Reform Medical College of Georgia and eventually opened a drug store in Columbus, Georgia a couple of years before the Civil War began.
During the Civil War, Pemberton was a Lieutenant Colonel of the Third Cavalry Battalion of the Georgia State Guard. It was a tragic event that occurred during the Civil War that caused Pemberton to develop the concept of Coca-Cola.
At the Battle of Columbus, Pemberton was terribly wounded. Unfortunately, due to the severe pain from his injury, Pemberton became addicted to morphine. Due to his chemistry background, Pemberton began work on a morphine-free solution to resolving pain. He hoped to help himself—and others—recover from morphine addiction.
He ultimately settled on a recipe that involved alcohol, damiana and kola nuts titled “Pemberton’s French Wine Coca.” However, the temperance movement outlawed alcoholic beverages in 1886, resulting in the need for a non-alcoholic version of his drink.
After combining his mixture with carbonated water, he began selling Coca-Cola to the public.
Sadly, Pemberton was never able to conquer his morphine addiction, and costs began to pile up. Therefore, he had to sell his company to business associates for a mere 1,750 U.S. Dollars in 1888, only a few months before his death on this day in 1888.