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Coca-Cola (often referred to simply as Coke) is a carbonated soft drink produced by The Coca-Cola Company. Originally intended as a patent medicine, it was invented in the late 19th century by John Pemberton and was bought out by businessman Asa Griggs Candler, whose marketing tactics led Coca-Cola to its dominance of the world soft-drink market throughout the 20th century. The drink's name refers to two of its original ingredients, which were kola nuts (a source of caffeine) and coca leaves. The current formula of Coca-Cola remains a trade secret, although a variety of reported recipes and experimental recreations have been published.
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The Coca-Cola Company produces concentrate, which is then sold to licensed Coca-Cola bottlers throughout the world. The bottlers, who hold exclusive territory contracts with the company, produce the finished product in cans and bottles from the concentrate, in combination with filtered water and sweeteners. A typical 12-US-fluid-ounce (350 ml) can contains 38 grams (1.3 oz) of sugar (usually in the form of high fructose corn syrup). The bottlers then sell, distribute, and merchandise Coca-Cola to retail stores, restaurants, and vending machines throughout the world. The Coca-Cola Company also sells concentrate for soda fountains of major restaurants and food service distributors.
The Coca-Cola Company has on occasion introduced other cola drinks under the Coke name. The most common of these is Diet Coke, along with others including Caffeine-Free Coca-Cola, Diet Coke Caffeine-Free, Coca-Cola Cherry, Coca-Cola Zero, Coca-Cola Vanilla, and special versions with lemon, lime, and coffee. Based on Interbrand's "best global brand" study of 2015, Coca-Cola was the world's third most valuable brand. In 2013, Coke products were sold in over 200 countries worldwide, with consumers downing more than 1.8 billion company beverage servings each day.
In 1892, Candler set out to incorporate a second company; "The Coca-Cola Company" (the current corporation). When Candler had the earliest records of the "Coca-Cola Company" burned in 1910, the action was claimed to have been made during a move to new corporation offices around this time.
After Candler had gained a better foothold on Coca-Cola in April 1888, he nevertheless was forced to sell the beverage he produced with the recipe he had under the names "Yum Yum" and "Koke". This was while Charley Pemberton was selling the elixir, although a cruder mixture, under the name "Coca-Cola", all with his father's blessing. After both names failed to catch on for Candler, by the middle of 1888, the Atlanta pharmacist was quite anxious to establish a firmer legal claim to Coca-Cola, and hoped he could force his two competitors, Walker and Dozier, completely out of the business, as well.
On August 16, 1888, Dr. John Stith Pemberton suddenly died; Asa G. Candler then sought to move swiftly forward to attain his vision of taking full control of the whole Coca-Cola operation.
Charley Pemberton, an alcoholic, was the one obstacle who unnerved Asa Candler more than anyone else. Candler is said to have quickly maneuvered to purchase the exclusive rights to the name "Coca-Cola" from Pemberton's son Charley right after Dr. Pemberton's death. One of several stories was that Candler bought the title to the name from Charley's mother for $300; approaching her at Dr. Pemberton's funeral. Eventually, Charley Pemberton was found on June 23, 1894, unconscious, with a stick of opium by his side. Ten days later, Charley died at Atlanta's Grady Hospital at the age of 40.
In Charles Howard Candler's 1950 book about his father, he stated: "On August 30th , he [Asa Candler] became sole proprietor of Coca-Cola, a fact which was stated on letterheads, invoice blanks and advertising copy.
With this action on August 30, 1888, Candler's sole control became technically all true. Candler had negotiated with Margaret Dozier and her brother Woolfolk Walker a full payment amounting to $1,000, which all agreed Candler could pay off with a series of notes over a specified time span. By May 1, 1889, Candler was now claiming full ownership of the Coca-Cola beverage, with a total investment outlay by Candler for the drink enterprise over the years amounting to $2,300.
In 1914, Margaret Dozier, as co-owner of the original Coca-Cola Company in 1888, came forward to claim that her signature on the 1888 Coca-Cola Company bill of sale had been forged. Subsequent analysis of certain similar transfer documents had also indicated John Pemberton's signature was most likely a forgery, as well, which some accounts claim was precipitated by his son Charley.
On September 12, 1919, Coca-Cola Co. was purchased by a group of investors for $25 million and reincorporated. The company publicly offered 500,000 shares of the company for $40 a share.
In 1986, The Coca-Cola Company merged with two of their bottling operators (owned by JTL Corporation and BCI Holding Corporation) to form Coca-Cola Enterprises Inc. (CCE).
In December 1991, Coca-Cola Enterprises merged with the Johnston Coca-Cola Bottling Group, Inc.