John Stith Pemberton

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John Stith Pemberton

Birthdate: (57)
Birthplace: Knoxville, Crawford County, Georgia, United States
Death: Died in Atlanta, Fulton County, Georgia, United States
Cause of death: stomach cancer
Place of Burial: Columbus, Muscogee County, Georgia, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of James Clifford Pemberton and Martha L Pemberton
Husband of Anna Eliza Clifford Pemberton
Father of Charles Ney Pemberton

Occupation: Druggist, Confederate Veteran, Inventor of Coca Cola
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About John Stith Pemberton

John Stith Pemberton (July 8, 1831 – August 16, 1888) was a Confederate veteran who was wounded in the Battle of Columbus, Georgia and an American druggist. He was best known for being the inventor of Coca-Cola, which in his lifetime was used only for medical purposes.

John Pemberton's uncle was Confederate Lt. General John Clifford Pemberton.

Early life

Pemberton was born to James Clifford Pemberton (born 1803 in North Carolina) and Martha L. Gant (born 1791 in Virginia). Though born in nearby Knoxville, Georgia, Pemberton, as a young child, moved with his family to the larger city of Columbus, Georgia. He was a graduate of the University of Georgia pharmacy school.

Invention of Coca-Cola

In April 1865, Pemberton was wounded in the Battle of Columbus, Georgia, and like many wounded veterans, he became addicted to morphine. Searching for a cure for this addiction, he began experimenting with coca and coca wines, eventually creating his own version of Vin Mariani, containing kola nut and damiana, which he called Pemberton's French Wine Coca.

With public concern about drug addiction, depression and alcoholism among veterans, and "neurasthenia" among "highly-strung" Southern women, his medicinal concoction was advertised as being particularly beneficial for "ladies, and all those whose sedentary employment causes nervous prostration, irregularities of the stomach, bowels and kidneys, who require a nerve tonic and a pure, delightful diffusible stimulant."

In 1886, when Atlanta and Fulton County enacted temperance legislation, Pemberton found himself forced to produce a non-alcoholic alternative to his French Wine Coca. Pemberton relied on Atlanta druggist Willis Venable to test, and help him perfect, the recipe for the beverage, which recipe he formulated by trial and error. With Venable's assistance, Pemberton worked out a set of directions for its preparation that eventually included blending the base syrup with carbonated water, and Frank Mason Robinson came up with the name "Coca-Cola" for the alliterative sound, which was popular among other wine medicines of the time. Although the name quite clearly refers to the two main ingredients, the controversy over its cocaine content would later prompt The Coca-Cola Company to state that the name was "meaningless but fanciful." Robinson also hand wrote the Spencerian script on the bottles and ads. Pemberton also made many health claims for his product and marketed it as "delicious, refreshing, exhilarating, invigorating" and touted it as a "valuable brain tonic" that would cure headaches, relieve exhaustion and calm nerves.

Asa Candler bought the business in 1887. In 1894, Coke was sold in bottles for the first time. During World War II, bottling plants were set up in Europe, Africa, and the Pacific islands.

John Pemberton in popular culture

In 2010 the Coca-Cola Company paid tribute to Pemberton as a key character within an advertising campaign called Secret Formula. Centered on the secret ingredients of Coca-Cola, imagery related to Pemberton was used to make people more aware of Coke’s history and mythology.

John Pemberton was also referenced in an installment of Futurama titled "The Deep Deep South."

In May 2010, a Twitter account was created for John Pemberton, which was subsequently "verified" by the website. It is currently active and has more than 45,000 followers as of April 2011.

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John Stith Pemberton's Timeline

July 8, 1831
Knoxville, Crawford County, Georgia, United States
Age 22
Columbus, Muscogee County, Georgia, United States
August 16, 1888
Age 57
Atlanta, Fulton County, Georgia, United States
Columbus, Muscogee County, Georgia, United States