Many of you would have seen the butterfly effect movie. It is quite mind blowing how a seemingly insignificant event can cause a chain that leads to something unexpected. For those of you not familiar with the concept it is suggested that something as simple as a butterfly flapping its wings can alter the course of a tornado. But what has that got to do with coca cola?
These days the term is more readily applied to the idea of a time traveller. The suggestion is that somebody travelling in time could do the slightest thing and through a series of events this could lead to a dramatically different future. So let’s examine how this effect applies to one of the worlds most popular soft drinks.
You can seldom walk into a store without seeing the Coca Cola logo. It is one of the best known global brands. Available in most countries our generation can’t imagine it not existing, but there was a strange string of events that led to its existence. In fact, it wouldn’t have come about if it weren’t for its inventor, John Pemberton being stabbed in the chest.
During the civil war, Morphine was often used to help the wounded. Being such a strong drug this resulted in soldiers becoming addicted and developing what was coined as “soldiers sickness”. When Pemberton was stabbed in the chest he medicated with morphine. Like many of his compatriots, he became sick as a result. Pemberton, however, was a talented chemist and after the war set about coming up with a cure for this sickness.
With a blend of Coca leaves and alcohols, he created a tonic that he claimed would cure the sickness caused by the morphine addiction. As many of you know the early version of Coca Cola had cocaine in it as a result of the coca leaves.
This beverage was branded as French Coca Wine and proved relatively popular but came with its own problems. The most prominent ingredient was the coca leaves. These did nothing to aid people with their morphine addiction but made the drink itself addictive. Ironically Pemberton himself became addicted to his own beverage as a result.
In 1886 Pemberton replaced the alcohol in his beverage with sugar syrup making it more in line with the drink we know today. However, the addictive nature of the drink and his previous addiction meant that Pemberton was losing control of his faculties. He died two years later and passed the recipe and the business to his son Charlie.
Similarly to his dad, Charlie was also addicted to drugs and mentally not entirely there. He sold the product to businessman Asik Hadler.
As late as 1909 the product still contained cocaine. It was around this time the recipe was changed switching the fresh coca leaves with spent leaves. The result of this was that there were only traces of the drug in the product. It was re-branded coca cola and no longer advertised as a medicine. And that is how the beverage that we know, and love today, came to be.
Just imagine all the things that had to happen for that to transpire. If Pemberton hadn’t have served in the war Coca Cola would not exist. Had Pemberton had died or not got stabbed at all his drink wouldn’t exist. If his son had a higher functionality he might never have sold the product. There are so many things that could have happened that resulted in the drink not coming to fruition and yet the stars aligned and we are blessed with the delicious, refreshing beverage. I bet Pepsi doesn’t have a story that cool, does it?