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258Southern Cultures when she gives in to the ready-made phrase, the catchword of the moment. Her work is too important to be devalued in this way. For God, Country and Coca-Cola: The Unauthorized History of the Great American Soft Drink and the Company That Makes It. By Mark Pendergrast. Charles Scribner's Sons, 1993. 556 pp. Cloth, $27.50; paper, $14.00. Reviewed by Annette C. Wright, associate director of the Program in the Humanities and Human Values and adjunct assistant professor of American Studies, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and specialist in twentieth-century southern business history. Her latest publication is "The Aftermath ofthe General Textile Strike: Managers and the Workplace at Burlington Mills," in rfte Journal of Southern History. When asked by Southern Cultures to review this book on Coca-Cola, I was tempted to concentrate on the southern penchant for soft drinks. According to marketing experts, striking regional differences still exist in the consumption of drinks such as colas, imported beers, and "new age beverages" (bottled water). To no one's surprise, southerners drink less imported beer and bottled water and more soft drinks than folks in other regions. They also invented an impressive number of major brands including Dr. Pepper (1885, Waco, Texas); Coca-Cola (Atlanta, 1886); Pepsi-Cola (New Bern, North Carolina, 1896); and RC Cola (Columbus, Georgia, 1902). The region's long, hot summers and its lingering temperance tradition probably explain why soft drinks remain so popular. But neither the weather nor the temperance movement offers much help in understanding the origins of Coca-Cola. Pendergrast's well-researched study makes it clear that Coca-Cola's inventor, John Pemberton, was not interested in a new soft drink but instead was concocting a patent medicine. Coca-Cola began as "French Wine Coca"—a "nerve tonic," a nostrum for indigestion , hangovers, headaches, and stress—laced with caffeine, alcohol, and cocaine for an extra kick (yes, despite all the company's denials, the original Coca-Cola recipe contained coca leaves). After crusaders turned Atlanta dry Pemberton removed the alcohol from his formula and, at his partner's suggestion, renamed it "Coca-Cola." Pemberton, probably a morphine addict, soon sold his formula to another Atlanta druggist, Asa Candler, who added it to his line of patent medicines that already included a salve, a cold remedy, and a teeth whitener. For several years Candler continued to market Coca-Cola as a cure-all, even bottling some of the syrup to sell as a medicine. Only when consumers convinced Candler that they bought the drink for its flavor did he abandon the medicinal approach and use straightforward slogans such as "Drink Coca-Cola. Delicious and Refreshing." This new sales strategy also protected the company when reformers at the turn of the century began attacking products considered impure or unsafe. The actual "decocainizing" of CocaCola was not completed until 1903, after it became clear that public sentiment had turned against drug use. Candler hesitated to remove the dope from his beverage for fear of jeopardizing a unique taste that combined sweetness with a tart and tangy zip. But flavor alone did not make Coca-Cola the dominant soft drink. Candler and his associates devised a comprehensive marketing campaign that remains a model today; it was based on point-of-pur- Reviews259 chase signs, calendars, novelties, coupons, and newspaper ads with the distinctive CocaCola logo. Syrup manufacturing expenses were kept at a minimum in the Atlanta factory while drummers spread the Coca-Cola message throughout the South and eventually the nation. As sales boomed syrup factories were opened across the country, and by 1899 the first salesmen were sent overseas. Candler and his legal staff also diligently protected the name and the recipe from competitors. At first Candler paid little attention to bottling Coca-Cola and, uncharacteristically , practically gave away those rights in 1899. By 1913 bottling Coca-Cola had made businessmen rich across the country and forced the company to pay millions of dollars to regain the rights previously signed away. Candler showed wiser judgment in distributing the product. There was no bias against Yankees here—Candler wanted Coca-Cola available at every soda fountain, to...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1534-1488
Print ISSN
1068-8218
Pages
pp. 258-260
Launched on MUSE
2012-01-04
Open Access
No
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