John Stith Pemberton was born on July 8, 1831 in Knoxville, Georgia. He was a Confederate veteran and a pharmacist, who is best know for being the inventor of Coca-Cola.
In April 1865, Colonel John Pemberton of the Confederate Army was wounded during the Battle of Columbus, Georgia. He suffered a chest wound after being slashed and like most wounded veterans, he became addicted to morphine. Looking for an alternative to help cure his addiction, he began to experiment with coca and coca wines, eventually creating his own drink which he called Pemberton’s French Wine Coca.
In 1886, when Atlanta and Fulton County enacted temperance legislation, Pemberton was forced to produce a non-alcoholic version of his French Wine Coca. Relying on help from Atlanta druggist Willis Venable, he began to test a recipe for a new beverage, which he formulated from trial and error. With the assistance of Venable, Pemberton worked out a set of directions for the preparation of this beverage that eventually included blending the base syrup with carbonated water. Pemberton decided to sell this new beverage as a fountain drink rather than a medicine.
Frank Mason Robinson later assisted Pemberton with the development of the name “Coca-Cola.’ Robinson also hand wrote the script on the bottles and ads.
John Pemberton made many health claims for his new product, touting it as a “valuable brain tonic” that would cure headaches, relieve exhaustion and calm nerves. It was marketed as “delicious, refreshing, pure joy, exhilarating and invigorating.”
John Stith Pemberton died on August 16, 1888 at the age of 57. He is buried in Linwood Cemetery in Columbus, Georgia.