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9th May 2003 at 01:00
May 8, 1886: The Coca-Cola story

This week, back in 1886, saw the invention of one of the world's most recognisable brands.

John Pemberton was a doctor who lived in the town of Atlanta in the US state of Georgia. One May morning, in his back yard, he mixed together a number of ingredients to make a sugary brown syrup. It was sold in the local chemist's shop (or drugstore) as a "brain and nerve tonic". His partner invented a name for it, which he wrote down in his own flowing handwriting, "Coca-Cola" - still in use as a trade mark. Later that summer a customer with a headache asked the shop to mix some of the syrup with water for him. The shopkeeper asked if soda water would do, and today's fizzy drink was born. That year, the shop sold just six glasses a day. Then the owner of a sweet shop (or candy store) decided to sell fizzy Coca-Cola in glass bottles so people could take the drink with them wherever they went. What was in it was kept secret but others still tried to copy it so, in 1916, the curved bottle was designed to make "real" Cola look special.

"Coca-Cola" is now the most widely understood phrase in the world after "OK". More than one billion servings are sold every day in 200 countries.

Americans, on average, drink 395 servings a year; Britons 122; and the Chinese seven. The Coca-Cola Company is planning how it can double its worldwide sales.

Follow-up

Cola has been linked to tooth decay: as eggshells are similar to tooth enamel, you can place a hard-boiled egg in a glass of cola for 30 minutes.

What happens? Brush with toothpaste to show the importance of teeth-cleaning. Place another egg in cola for a week and observe the change.www.gaba.comteeth_carefaq_children

More boys than girls drink cola. Why?

An information pack, useful for marketing, environmental studies and PSE can be obtained at www.coca_cola.co.uk Tel: 0800 227711

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