Have a Coke and a Smile

May 8, 1886
The First Coca-Cola Served

When you’re thirsty, what do you like to drink? Coca-Cola maybe? People have been drinking the popular beverage since May 8, 1886, when Dr. John S. Pemberton sold the first Coca-Cola at Jacob’s Pharmacy in Atlanta, Georgia. America’s favorite soft drink has an interesting history. Bookkeeper Frank Robinson came up with the name, and it is his handwriting we recognize as the famous Coca-Cola trademark.

By the late 1890s, Coca-Cola was one of America’s most popular fountain drinks. Sales increased by 4000% between 1890 and 1900. The company began to sell syrup to individual bottling companies licensed to sell the drink. These companies added carbonated water to the syrup and bottled it. The U.S. soft drink industry still works this way today.

Now, you may get a can of Coca-Cola out of a machine or a cup self-served from a fountain at a fast food restaurant, but until the 1960s, both small-town and big-city dwellers would sit down in their local soda fountain or ice cream parlor for the soft drink. Often, the soda fountain was inside a drug store, and people of all ages would come and meet there. Perhaps you’ve seen this type of place in movies or on TV shows set in the 1950s or 60s.

Next time you have a Coca-Cola, amaze your friends with historical trivia about the popular soft drink.