It is rare to find any staple of American life that has its roots in the preceding century. This is one facet of the Coca-Cola Company that makes it very interesting. From its very meager beginnings, to a multinational fortune five hundred company that has the distinction to serve over one billion people in the course of a day. Dr. John Stith Pemberton founded the Coca-Cola Company in 1886. The first batch was mixed in a three legged brass kettle in his back yard. He then distributed it at the local pharmacy. That first year sales of Coke averaged nine drinks a day, and grossed $50. Since it actually cost $70 to produce the entire supply of product for that year money was actually lost.
Confectioner Joseph Biedenharm first bottled Coke in the summer of 1894. This complemented the fountain soda production of that year. This contributed to the spread of the popularity of the product that was consumed in every state and territory of the United States in 1895.
Expansion was quick to follow to keep pace with growing demands for Coke. Its interesting to note that this growth was under direction of Asa G. Candler who purchaed Coca-Cola Corporation in its entirety for the sum of $2,300. It was also under his direction that the unique contoured bottle was developed. This has remained a distinct feature of this product and effectively separated it from its lesser competitors. A few years later in 1919 the Company was again sold. However, by this time it was sold for the very sizable sum of $25 million.
The buyer, banker Ernest Woodruff and a group of investors decided that this was a prime time to bring the company public. The initial offering was $40 per share and if the dividends were...