Candler’s Early Days: The Struggle
Born December 30, 1851, in Villa Rica, Georgia, Candler was the eighth child of Samuel and Martha Candler. His father was an established merchant and property owner but lost his wealth in the destruction left behind by the Civil War.
After being schooled only sporadically (primarily due to the onset of the war), Candler developed a keen interest in the medical field. However, with too little money to attend medical school, he decided to pursue career as a druggist.
Candler worked for some time with two doctors by the names of Best and Kirkpatrick, and acquired significant knowledge in their field. He then moved to Atlanta in search of a better job. He went from drugstore to drugstore and finally found a job at George Jefferson Howard’s pharmacy. It was there that he met Lucy Elizabeth, Howard’s daughter, whom he would later marry.
Not content with his meager wages, Candler soon started his own business, which led him through a series of partnerships. By 1888, he was a well-known druggist in Atlanta.
Around this time, Candler was introduced to one Dr. John Pemberton, a druggist and inventor of a fizzy soda drink called Coca-Cola. It is said that the name was suggested by Pemberton’s bookkeeper, Frank Robinson.
The drink, which Pemberton sold at Jacob’s Pharmacy, was enjoyed by its regular customers. In 1886,the Pemberton Chemical Co. sold twenty-five gallons of syrup for the drink to drugstores, an amount which converted to a mere 3,200 servings.
A savvy businessman, Candler is said to have purchased Pemberton’s Coca-Cola formula for only $2,300. Pemberton himself is still known for his amazing invention, but it was Candler who turned Coca-Cola into an icon of pleasure and profit. His marketing savvy soon became clear as Coca-Cola quickly became a nationally recognized brand.
The Marketing Fizz
It was because of the aggressive marketing initiated by Candler that Coca-Cola is today the best-selling beverage in the world. Advertising was always a top priority for Candler, who could foresee the great potential of his brand. Sales soared and Candler soon became one of the richest men in America.
He manufactured and marketed the soft drink until 1919. After federal litigation hounded the company over health issues associated with the drink, The Coca-Cola Company was sold to a group of investors led by Ernest Woodruff.
Candler invested heavily in real estate and made millions from his ventures. He established the Central Bank and Trust Company, and became a philanthropist for the Methodist Church. He also served as mayor of Atlanta. He donated $1 million, along with land, to Emory University and gave millions of dollars to what later became known as the Emory Hospital.
The Brand and Its Reach
As for Coca-Cola itself, the figures go something like this…15,000 bottles of Coke are consumed every second; 66 million Americans drink Coca-Cola every day; and one billion eight-ounce servings are consumed worldwide every day.
The drink can seemingly be found on almost every street corner in the world, which is to say nothing of its availability in outer space. In 1986, Coca-Cola, along with rival brand Pepsi, was launched into space aboard the U.S. Space Shuttle to conduct a taste test.