John Pemberton was born in Knoxville, Georgia in 1831. As a young man, he excelled in chemistry, and decided to go to medical school. After graduation, he opened his medical practice, as well as his own drug store, in Columbus, Georgia.
During the war, Dr. Pemberton served as a lieutenant colonel in the Confederate Army. In 1865 during the Battle of Columbus, he sustained a saber wound to his chest that almost ended his life.
During Dr. Pemberton’s recovery he was given morphine for his pain, and soon became addicted. He decided he would try to find a painkiller to cure his addiction, and began extracting cocaine from the coca plant. Soon he had concocted a mixture of alcohol and cocaine that he took to Atlanta, Georgia to sell.
Dr. Pemberton named his new patented drink “Coca-Cola.”
Originally, the recipe called for five ounces of coca leaf per gallon, which was later reduced. By 1904 both cocaine and and alcohol were removed from the formula.