On this day in 1886 Colonel John Pemberton registered the Pemberton Medicine Company in Atlanta, Georgia which would later become the Coca-Cola Company. Pemberton was a civil war veteran who had been wounded and subsequently became addicted to morphine.
He was looking for a substitute medicine. Coca-Cola was initially sold for five cents a glass at soda fountains, then highly popular in America. The formula for the drink called for five ounces of coca leaf per gallon of syrup, a significant dose of what was, effectively, cocaine – an estimated nine milligrams per glass. In 1903, this substance was removed.
Daily servings of the drink are now estimated to be 1.9 billion. Coca-Cola has been drunk in outer space and today the word is considered the second most widely understood throughout the world (the first is ‘ok’). That’s a long way from an average five servings a day in an Atlanta drugstore in 1886.
Today’s poem is by William Butler Yeats, entitled A Drinking Song:
Wine comes in at the mouth
And love comes in at the eye;
That’s all we shall know for truth
Before we grow old and die.
I lift the glass to my mouth,
I look at you, and I sigh.
I look at the world and the stranglehold that big business sometimes seems to have on people and tell myself to accept the things I cannot change and to be grateful for the things I have. Like Coca-Cola.