“Coca-Cola’s success spawned a host of cola imitators. The drink that would prove Coke’s strongest and most enduring copier was conceived in a North Carolina drugstore in 1896.
“New Bern pharmacist Caleb D. Bradham, an erstwhile medical student, served dyspeptic customers a drink he had created to calm their stomachs. To his surprise it became a hit with his other patrons, who would ask for ‘Brad’s drink.’ Forfeiting his opportunity for immortality, Bradham rechristened the drink ‘Pepsi-Cola.’ The name suggested two of the drink’s ingredients, the digestive enzyme pepsin and the kola nut, in a form and cadence suggestive of Pepsi’s Atlanta competitor.”
— From “Charles E. Hires and the Drink that Wowed a Nation: The Life and Times of a Philadelphia Entrepreneur” by Bill Double (2018)
“Coca-Cola has had a big run at my fountain, and is gaining in popularity all the time.
“A line of soda drinks is incomplete without it.
“Coca-Cola has come to stay!”
— From an 1892 letter to Coca-Cola from Raleigh pharmacist J. H[al] Bobbitt
Four years later, Bobbitt moved to Baltimore to manufacture a “general blood purifier” called Rheumacide.
In 1915 Bobbitt Chemical Co. was found guilty of violating the Food and Drugs Act for selling a product that “contains no ingredient or combination of ingredients capable of producing the therapeutic effects which were claimed.”
“Coca-Cola was the subject of increasing gossip in those years. Growing up in Asheville, North Carolina, Thomas Wolfe heard most of the rumors, but they only increased his taste for Coca-Cola. He immortalized the Great American Drink in this passage from the Great American Novel, ‘Look Homeward, Angel’:
” ‘Drink Coca Cola. They say [Asa Candler] stole the formula from an old mountain woman. $50,000,000 now. Rats in the vats. Dope at Wood’s [Drug Store] better. Too weak here [in New York City]. [Eugene Gant] had recently acquired a taste for the beverage and drank four or five glasses a day.’ ”
— From “For God, Country and Coca-Cola: The Definitive History of the Great American Soft Drink and the Company that Makes it” by Mark Pendergrast (1993)
“[By 1903] it hardly mattered that Coca-Cola contained nothing but the merest trace of either drug named in its trademark. People were growing frightened….’Every ingredient [in Coca-Cola] is a poison,’ the Wilson (N.C.) Daily News warned its readers, ‘and not long hence each unhappy victim of this pernicious tipple, like the opium fiend of the East, may take his neighbor by the hand and say, “Brother, what ailed thee, to seek so dire a cure?” ‘ ”
— From “Secret Formula: How Brilliant Marketing & Salesmanship Made Coca-Cola the Best Known Product in the World” by Frederick Allen (1999)
On this day in 1902: In Charlotte, J. Luther Snyder dispenses the first Coca-Cola bottled in the Carolinas. Until now Coke had been available only at soda fountains.
Snyder will recall that business is mediocre until the arrival of Prohibition in Charlotte in 1905: “Eighteen saloons, two breweries. . . . I had a terrible time selling soft drinks with that kind of competition.”