John Pemberton Statue
Public Art : John Pemberton Statue
Sculptor: © Russ Faxon
Date: Unveiled 2007
Description: A 6-foot-4-inch, 800-pound bronze statue
of John S. "Doc" Pemberton, the Atlanta pharmacist who invented Coke in 1886. The bronze depicts the bearded
Pemberton resting his left hand on a table whilst holding up a glass/cup of Coke in his right hand.
Location: Outside the World of Coke
Museum, Atlanta, Georgia, USA.
Background to John Pemberton :
John Stith Pemberton (July 8, 1831–August 16, 1888) was an American druggist and
the man responsible for bringing the world, Coca-Cola. Georgian born, Pemberton (or "Doc" as he
became to be known) graduated from medical school at the age of 19. He developed a very keen interest in
herbal remedies which were both controversial and questionable to say the least. After getting a degree in
pharmacy, Pemberton began a career in selling these patent medicines. Pemberton was seriously injured during
his time fighting for the Confederacy Army and during a confrontation with the Wilson's Raiders in Alabama
was shot and stabbed with a saber. Unfortunately this led to his morphine addiction.
On moving to Atlanta, in 1885, he set up a laboratory and began working on a beverage derived from the kola (cola)
nut. The Coca plant had become quite the talk of the town during this time and boasted such benefits as being a
life extender, aphrodisiac and a stimulant. Some suggested that Pemberton's motivation to produce a
medicinal drink from this exotic nut was as an attempt to find an alternative substitute for the morphine
to which he was so addicted. His first attempt in his new labatory was to produce a nonalcolholic version of his
French Wine Coca, because he was concerned that there would soon be restrictions on sales of alcolholic beverages.
He worked day and night on trying to get the formula just right for his new drink . Painstakingly testing each new
formula before eventually launching his masterpiece. His bookkeeper, Frank Mason Robertson, came up with the
name for his new brew, Coca-Cola, and was also responsible for the Spencerian script writing still used for the
Coca-Cola brand. Interestingly when the drink was first on the market it was advertised as a cure for morphine and
opium addictions among other health benefits. Much to everyone's surprise, soon after the success of Coca Cola,
John Pemberton up and sold the rights to the formula. In 1887 he sold two thirds to Willis Venable and George
Lowndes (leaving the remaining third to his son). His son died from morphine addiction 6 years later and his wife
died a pauper. Now for everyone wondering about the levels of cocaine in the drink, evidently the original formula
contained 8.46 mg of cocaine, today it contains none.