THE REAL THING
Orange Vanilla Coke ships to stores for sale Feb. 25 – Coca-Cola's first new flavor for drinkers of sugared and sugar-free colas since 2007. Since it was first poured in 1886, Coca-Cola has become America's sugary beverage of choice, but fans can forget what a long, winding path it's taken to get there. From a heady early history of drug-infused secret formulas to outer-space stunts and flavor flops, the story of Coke involves plenty of weird and wild tales that fans of the fizzy soda might not know. Here are some fascinating facts about Coca-Cola to share with friends the next time you sip the real thing.
COCA-COLA STARTED AS DRUG-INFUSED WINE
IT BECAME A SODA BECAUSE OF PROHIBITION
COCA-COLA WAS FIRST MARKETED AS A BRAIN TONIC
With the alcohol removed, Pemberton marketed Coca-Cola as a temperance drink for Prohibition, but also for its alleged mental benefits. The pharmacist had patented other supposed health remedies such as Globe of Flower Cough Syrup and Triplex Liver Pills. Early ads touted the soda as an "intellectual beverage" and a "brain tonic" that could help calm the nerves.
THE DISTINCTIVE SCRIPT WAS DESIGNED BY THE BOOKKEEPER
BOTTLES BROUGHT COKE OUT OF SEGREGATED SODA FOUNTAINS
THE ICONIC CONTOURED BOTTLE SET COKE APART
COCAINE WAS CUT OUT OF THE RECIPE A LONG TIME AGO
COCA-LEAF EXTRACT IS STILL USED TO MAKE COCA-COLA
NOBODY HAS BEEN ABLE TO CRACK THE SECRET RECIPE
THE SECRET FORMULA IS IN A HIGHLY SECURED VAULT
COKE WAS OFFERED TO EVERY WWII SOLDIER
Coca-Cola may want to keep the recipe exclusive, but the company certainly wants as many people as possible to drink the iconic soda — and that was especially true of soldiers during World War II. Following the attack on Pearl Harbor, the story goes, the president of Coca-Cola at the time, Robert Woodruff, insisted that every man in uniform receive a bottle for 5 cents, regardless where they were or what the expense to the company. Coca-Cola was considered an "essential" beverage, so the company was able to send uniformed employees to set up bottling plants behind the lines. The German arm of Coca-Cola continued to produce the soda under Nazi rule, and even Adolf Hitler was said to be a fan.
OPERA SINGERS WERE THE FIRST CELEBRITY ENDORSERS
From Elton John, Paula Abdul, and Max Headroom to Taylor Swift and Selena Gomez, plenty of big-name celebrities have shilled for Coca-Cola over the years. But the very first endorsements came from opera star Lillian Nordica and actress and light opera singer Hilda Clark. Clark became a spokeswoman for Coca-Cola and appeared on much of the company's advertising from 1899 to 1903 — everything from serving trays to clocks and playing cards.