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Coca-Cola is the trademarked name (registered 1893) for a popular soft drink sold in stores, restaurants and vending machines around the world. It also popularly known as "Coke", which the company also claims as a trademark. Coca-Cola also registered a trademark on the distinctive bottle shape in 1960. Coca-Cola was sold in bottles for the first time starting on March 12, 1894 and cans of Coke first appeared in 1955.
The name derived from the coca leaves and kola nuts used as flavoring. The exact Coca-Cola Formula is a legendary trade secret. Reportedly a copy of the formula is held in a safe in Atlanta, Georgia with only two corporate officers having access.
The distinctive "cola" flavor comes mostly from the mix of sugar, orange oil, lemon oil and vanilla. The other ingredients change the flavor only very slightly.
In the original formula, the natural cocaine content of the coca leaves, and caffeine from kola nuts, provided the drink's stimulant effect. Shortly after the turn of the century, cocaine was removed from the coca leaves by processing (leaving a physiologically insignificant trace), and the amount of caffeine was reduced.
The coca-leaf processing is done at the only licensed coca-leaf processing plant in the U.S, in New York City. Importation of leaves to other facilities is a felony. It is rumoured that the only reason the relevant laws have a licensing provision is because of lobbying by Coca-Cola Corporation.
Coca-Cola Corporation is the world's largest customer of natural vanilla extract. When new Coke was introduced, in 1984, the economy of Madagascar crashed, and only recovered after New Coke[?] flopped. The reason is because New Coke uses vanillin, a less-expensive synthetic substitute, and purchases of vanilla more than halved during this period.
Coca-Cola was formulated by John S. Pemberton, and originally sold as a patent medicine[?] for five cents a glass at soda fountains, which were popular in America due to a contemporary view that soda water was good for your health. The first sales were at Jacob's Pharmacy in Atlanta, Georgia, on May 8th, 1886, and for the first eight months, only thirteen drinks per day were sold. Pemberton then ran the first advertisement for the beverage on May 29 of the same year in the Atlanta Journal[?].
The drink and its advertising campaigns have had significant impact on American culture. The company is frequently credited for "inventing" the modern image of Santa Claus as an old man in red-white garments; however, while the company did in fact promote this image starting in the 1930s in its winter advertising campaigns, it was already common before that time  (http://www.snopes.com/cokelore/santa.asp). In the 1970s, a song from a Coca-Cola commercial called "I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing" became a popular hit single.
In the 1980s, Coca-Cola attempted to change the formula of the drink with a highly publicized effort. Some authorities believe that New Coke was invented specifically to cope with a commercial competitor, Pepsi. Blind taste tests indicated that people preferred the taste of Pepsi to Coke. Pepsi has more lemon oil, less orange oil, and uses vanillin rather than vanilla. New Coke was reformulated to emulate Pepsi. In blind taste tests, most people favored New Coke to Coke, as well.
The commercial failure of New Coke was therefore a grievous surprise to the management of Coca-Cola Corporation. Quite possibly, if they had made the change either secretly, or gradually, no notice would have occurred and their brand loyalty would have been unchanged.
The new Coca-Cola formula caused a public backlash and the company was forced to return to the old formula under the name Coca-Cola Classic. The company was later suspected of playing this move as an elaborate charade to both introduce a new product and revive interest in the original. The company president responded to the accusation with "We are not that stupid, or that smart."
Today the drink is manufactured as a syrup and then supplied to various franchises that reconstitute, bottle and distribute it. The company produces many other soft drinks, including other varieties of Coca-Cola such as Diet Coke (which uses aspartame, a synthetic phenylalanine-containing sweetener, in order to reduce the sugar content of the drink).
Coca-Cola's greatest rival is Pepsi-Cola.
Pendergrast, Mark: For God, Country, and Coca Cola: The Definitive History of the Great American Soft Drink and the Company That Makes It. New York: Basic Books, 2000 (second edition; ISBN 0465054684).