What was Coke originally made for?

The story of Coca-Cola & Co.

In 1985 the company officially changed its recipe for the first time and so far once. The so-called "New Coke" for the US market, however, is not well received. Due to massive protests, the company is switching production back to the old recipe after just three months (6). The news magazine »Spiegel« suspected at the time that Coca-Cola was afraid of being ousted by the competition as the number one soft drink: Pepsi-Cola. (7)


Here, too, a pharmacist was the inventor: Caleb Bradham (1867 to 1934) wanted to turn his pharmacy in New Bern, North Carolina, into a social meeting place. A soda fountain with its own lemonade creations should help. According to the PepsiCo company brochure, Bradham's most popular mix was "Brad’s Drink", made from carbonated water, cola nuts, vanilla and rare oils, first served in 1898 (8). Originally the drink probably also contained the digestive enzyme pepsin, hence the name Pepsi.


Bankruptcy for Pepsi


First, Bradham mixed the syrup as a starting point in his pharmacy and sold it by the barrel to other drug stores. In 1902 he founded the "Pepsi Cola Company" and received a patent for the brand a year later. The business was immediately successful. By 1910, Pepsi-Cola was already available from franchise companies in 24 states. The annual production of syrup was 100,000 gallons (around 380,000 liters). During the First World War, however, sugar prices rose rapidly, so that the company had to declare bankruptcy in 1923. Bradham sold the company to Craven’s Holding Corporation and returned to his pharmacy. (8) In 1931 the company went bankrupt again. Only the confectionery manufacturer Charles G. Guth brought the brand back on the road to success through clever marketing - in direct competition with the already internationally successful Coca-Cola. In Germany, however, Pepsi-Cola did not come onto the market until the 1960s. In the 1970s and 1980s, the company waged the so-called "Cola Wars" against its major competitor with an aggressive marketing campaign. Blinded tasting tests should prove the superiority in taste over Coca-Cola. According to Pepsi, this is one reason why the world market leader Coca-Cola changed its recipe at short notice in 1985. (8th)


Another invention of a pharmacist is probably the soft drink Dr Pepper (9). It was first offered by Morrison's Old Corner Drug Store in Waco, Texas in 1885, a year before Coca-Cola officially launched. The young pharmacist Charles Alderton worked in Wade Morrison's pharmacy. His job was to make medicines, but he also experimented with drinks for the soda fountain. According to the Dr Pepper Museum, he liked the smell of the different fruit syrups and was looking for the perfect mix. His employer Morrison and his customers liked the drink so much that other pharmacies in Waco also ordered it from Morrison.


Among the customers was a young chemist, Robert S. Lazenby. Since Alderton preferred to continue working as a pharmacist rather than a beverage developer, he suggested that Morrison and Lazenby take over the marketing. In 1891 they founded the Artesian Mfg. & Bottling Company, which would later become the Dr Pepper Company (now Dr Pepper Snapple Group). In 1904 the company presented its drink at the world exhibition in St. Louis - between new specialties such as hamburgers and frankfurters in a roll or ice cream in a waffle. According to the company, it is unclear where the name "Dr Pepper" comes from. One suspicion is that Alderton originally used the enzyme pepsin, like Bradham at Pepsi.


From 1910 to 1914 the company advertised with the title "King of Drinks". In the first half of the 20th century, Dr Pepper marketed it as an energy drink against physiological sugar lows during the day - in a way to "spice up" it. "Drink a bit to eat at 10, 2, and 4," was the advertising message.


In the 1970s, it was said, probably in contrast to the great competition, that Dr Pepper was "the most original soft drink in the whole wide world that has ever existed." As for the composition, the company's website only reveals that the taste goes back to 23 fruit flavors. The official declaration is otherwise almost identical to that of Coca-Cola and Pepsi-Cola. The exact recipes will probably remain company secrets - the rest is a matter of taste./