August 16

John Stith Pemberton

August 16, 1888 - Knoxville, Rome, Macon, Columbus, Atlanta

He created the pause that refreshes.

John Stith Pemberton was born in Knoxville, Georgia in 1831 and grew up in Rome. In 1850, he graduated from a College of Herbal Medicine in Macon and then went to pharmacy school in Philadelphia.

Returning to Georgia, Pemberton set up shop as a druggist in Columbus. During the Civil War, he served with distinction in the Cavalry under Confederate General Joe Wheeler, narrowly escaping death in 1865. He left Columbus for Atlanta, and began experimenting with a health drink called “French Wine Cola” made from extracts of the coca leaf and the kola nut. When Atlanta introduced Prohibition in 1886, he substituted sugar syrup for the wine, re–named it “Coca–Cola” after its central ingredients, and the “pause that refreshes” with its secret formula was born.

When Pemberton died, Atlanta druggists closed their stores and attended his funeral as a group in his honor. Pemberton’s concoction became the best–known product in the world, far exceeding even the wildest dreams of the man who died on August 16, 1888, Today in Georgia History.