To understand the first generation of Coca-Cola products it is important to know about the status of cocaine during this time period. Cocaine is derived from the leaves of the coca plant. The leaves have been chewed for centuries by natives of Peru, who use it as a stimulant and to reduce hunger. It was first extracted and identified in the mid-1800's and was used for medical purposes to treat a variety of illnesses. Psychiatrist Sigmund Freud, described it as a "magical drug". In 1910, the first documented cases of problems associated with cocaine were recorded in medical journals and seen in many hospitals. In 1914, the US made cocaine illegal.
John Pemberton owned a chemist's store, and had invented numerous patent medicines. His success, he focused on patenting a new drink that would earn him recognition in scientific history. The huge success of Vin Mariani, a wine which had coca leaves in as an ingredient, inspired Dr. Pemberton. He launched Pemberton's French Wine Coca in 1885. Pemberton made an improvement to Vin Mariani by adding kola nuts, another ingredient known for its medical properties. He advertised his drink as a nerve tonic, and an aid to overcome morphine addiction. In Pemberton's best interest, he decided to change the alcohol based drink, due to current attitudes towards alcohol. Alcohol would soon become illegal with the alcohol prohibition in 1920.
Pemberton was convinced that the virtues of his drink were the coca leaves and kola nuts. By using these ingredients he focused on a new medical drink. He replaced the wine with essential oils, but the drink was too bitter. He added sugar to sweeten it, but it became too sweet. He decided to add citric acid to counterbalance the overwhelming sweet flavor. His efforts paid off, and he invented a new product. He soon launched Pemberton Chemical Company in partnership with Frank Robinson. Robinson cave Pemberton the marketing knowledge he needed to advertize his product. By putting the names of the two medical ingredients together, Robinson came up with the name Coca-Cola. He also used a unique script to write Coca-Cola which would become its trademark. Pemberton became sick, to what was thought as complications from his morphine addiction. He decided to sell his company and in 1887 Willis Venable and George Lowndes purchased two-thirds of the rights. In August 16, 1888, Pemberton passed away.
In 1891, public attitudes were changing towards cocaine. It became general knowledge that cocaine could be harmful. Frank Allen describes that the negative aspects of cocaine were becoming a national debate. Accusations were being made that products containing cocaine were connected to cocaine addiction. For the reputation of the company, the amount of coca leaves used were cut back to trace amounts. The company did everything it could with the technology available to remove cocaine from Coca-Cola. Since the coca leaves cave Cola-Coca its name, and the name had to be protected since there was no patent, the coca leaves had to stay in as ingredient. In 1902 the trace amounts were as little as 1/400 of a grain of cocaine per ounce of syrup. Coca-cola became completely cocaine free in 1929.
The year 1983. This generation marks the first flavor change since the existence of Coca-Cola. This change was mainly influenced by that fact the Coca-Cola market share had fell 2.5% percent in 4 years. Each percentage lost equals approximately 200 million dollars. This may have been a result of competitors, Pepsi-Cola, success. With the marketing competition pressures building Coca-Cola decided to come up with a new formula. The company spent 4 million dollars in researching a new formula.
With some 200 newspaper and television reporters present, Coca-Cola announced the change in the formula on April 23, 1985. Within the first 24 hours of the announcement, over 81% of the United State's population had heard about the introduction of the new Coke . Within a week, near 1000 calls a day swamped to the Coca-Cola Company's eight hundred number from outraged customers. Six weeks later, the number of calls rose to 6000 per day. Over 40,000 letters were written to the company. Each letter was responded to, and sent with a coupon for the new Coke. When the Pepsi-Cola company heard about the change in Coca-Cola's secret formula, they assumed that it was changed to compete with their company. The Pepsi-Cola Company believed the change was due to the fact that Pepsi-Cola's product tasted better. The CEO of the Pepsi-Cola wrote a letter to every major newspaper in the United States, declaring victory.
Only 87 days after new Coke was introduced, old Coke was brought back on July 10, 1985. The fall in market share from a high of 15% to a low of 1.4% as well as consumer complaints lead to the decision to bring back the original formula. The return of "Classic" Coke interrupted ABC's "General Hospital" to break the news. The original formula was sold in addition to the new version, by 1986, the new Coke, only had a 3% market share. In 1990, it was renamed, Coke II, but had virtually vanished, although it is still sold in the Midwest of the United States.
Today, consumers are becoming more health-conscious. The Food Standards Agency conducts surveys to track changes in behavior and attitude, with regards to food standards and safety, allowing trends to be measured. People are taking a more active interest in their diet by checking labels, and trying to eat more fruits and vegetables. Surveys have shown that 43% of people in 2000 were aware that we should eat at least five portions of fruit and vegetables a day, and in 2005 that number increased to 67%. More people are checking the nutritional information on food labels. About 48% of people say they check the sugar content, increasing from 28% in 2000. The Coca-Cola Company has shown an interest in their consumer's attitudes towards health.
The introduction of the first generation was marketed as a medicine, with the then popular ingredient, cocaine. When it became general knowledge that cocaine could be harmful, the company did what they could to remove it. With public health consciousness rising, Cola-Coca introduced a product that could appeal to these consumers. This product would have less sugar, and have vitamin enhancements. In 2007, Diet Coke Plus hit the shelves. This product took the already popular formula of diet coke, which was introduced to the public in 1982 and included vitamins. The formula contains aspartame, which is used as an alternate sweetener to sugar. Diet Coke already appeared to many consumers because it is sugar free.