EARLY DAYS (1884 - 1899)

old Hilda Clark Coca-Cola Ad
Source: The Coca-Cola Company

1884 — Pemberton’s French Wine Coca

John Pemberton launches Pemberton’s French Wine Coca—the precursor to Coca-Cola.

The French Wine Coca is a knockoff of the famous Vin Mariani

1886 — Creation of Coca-Cola

John Pemberton creating Coca-Cola
© History Oasis

John Pemberton first advertises Coca-Cola as a medicine for an original use for  headaches and impotence. 

The drink contains coca leaves/cocaine, kola nuts, sugar syrup and other ingredients.

His invention and secret recipe would become notorious as Merchandise 7X.  

Frank M. Robertson designs the iconic Coca-Cola logo.

Coca-Cola’s first slogans “Drink Coca-Cola”, “Delicious and Refreshing” and Coca-Cola’s first advertisements are created by Pemberton. 

Red and color in logo are set in stone. 

1887 — Coupons

Early Coca-Cola coupon
Source: The Coca-Cola Company

Pemberton innovates with coupons, driving up sales.

Coke’s first celebrity endorser, Hilda Clark, begins to appear in ads. 

1888 — Asa Candler

Asa Candler purchases the full Coca-Cola formula and branding rights after Pemberton's son Charley initially maintains some control.

1891 — Alteration of Formula

Candler claims his altered formula only contains one tenth the amount of coca leaves or cocaine previously used.

1892 — Coca-Cola Incorporation

Candler incorporates the company in Atlanta the same year his oldest son publishes a book about his father's early involvement with Coca-Cola.

1894 — Coca-Cola Bottling

Portrait of Asa Candler
© History Oasis

The first Coca-Cola bottling occurs at the Biedenharn Candy Company—owned by Joseph Biedenharn in Vicksburg, Mississippi.

1895 — Southeastern Expansion

Coca-Cola expands from soda fountains into bottled distribution across the southeastern United States.

EARLY GROWTH (1900 - 1959)

Contour Coca-Cola bottle
© History Oasis

1900 — Cuba

Cuban woman drinking a Cuba Libre
© History Oasis

Coca-Cola is introduced to Cuba. 

The Cuba Libre is invented. 

1904 — Koca Nola

Cocaine infused cola competitor Koca Nola is launched. 

1906 — Pure Food and Drug Act

The Pure Food and Drug Act is passed by congress.

The regulators set their sights on Coca-Cola’s cocaine formulation. 

1915 — Coca-Cola Bottle Redesign

Coca-Cola launches a glass bottle design competition—looking for a new refreshing look.

The tiny Root Glass Company wins the competition. 

The iconic contour Coca-Cola bottle is launched.

1919 — Coca-Cola Goes Public

Early Coca-Cola polar bear ad
Source: The Coca-Cola Company

Ernest Woodruff purchases the company for $25 million. His Trust Company of Georgia helps Coca-Cola go public in 1919, selling 500,000 shares at $40 each.

1920 — Dividends 

Under Woodruff's leadership, Coca-Cola begins its longtime practice of paying out dividends to shareholders.

Coca-Cola becomes an even more popular during prohibition

1921 — Mexico

In the heat of the Mexican Revolution—Coca-Cola is introduced in Mexico

1922 — Polar Bears

The iconic Coca-Cola Polar Bear characters are created for winter ad campaigns. 

The “Thirst Knows No Season” ad campaign debuts. 

1923 — Robert Woodruff 

portrait of Robert Woodruff
© Historic Oasis

Robert Woodruff becomes President of Coca-Cola at age 33.

1927 – The Coca-Coca Hour

Trying to reach new audiences, the radio show “The Coca-Cola Hour” debuts. 

1929 — Pause that Refreshes

Coca-Cola's famous ad campaign and slogan “The Pause that Refreshes” goes live.

Coca-Cola installs its first vending machine

1930s — Haddon Sundblom

Robert Woodruff oversees major national advertising campaigns and sports sponsorships—including sponsoring the 1936 Berlin Olympic games and commissioning artist Haddon Sundblom's marketing depictions of Santa Claus drinking Coke.

1940 — Fanta‍

vintage Fanta ad
Source: The Coca-Cola Company

Fanta debuts in Nazi Germany. 

1941 — Coke Trademark

Coca-Cola officially trademarks its "Coke" nickname in advertising.

1942 — Sprite Boy

Sprite Boy character is launched for its holiday ads.

1945 — Coca-Colonization 

Sales of Coca-Cola overseas to WWII troops helps publicize it as a global symbol of American patriotism. 

It also marks the beginning of Coca-Cola being involved in federal politics or Coca-Colonization

Soviet Marshal Georgy Zhukov requests a discrete “white coke” to enjoy at his discretion. 

1950 — Monopoly in Soft Drinks

Sign of Good Taste Ad
Source: The Coca-Cola Company

Coca-Cola's advertising budgets and distribution reach lead it to attain 60% market share of the US soft drink market.

1955 — Pull-Top Can

Canned (Pull-Top Can) versions of Coke become available for the first time in markets across America.

The king size Coke bottle debuts. 

1957 — Sign of Good Taste

The ad campaign “Sign of Good Taste” debuts. 

1959 — 5 Cent Bottle

Due to persistent inflation the 5 cent Coca-Cola bottle is discontinued. 

Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev is offered Coca-Cola for the first time in his visit to the U.S. 


vintage 1970s Coca-Cola ad
Source: The Coca-Cola Company

1960 — Minute Maid

vintage Minute Maid ad
Source: The Coca-Cola Company

Coca-Cola acquires the Minute Maid Company as its first major expansion beyond traditional sodas. The acquisition brings in all it’s popular juice brands including Hi-C

The first Coca-Cola 600 debuts. 

1961 — Sprite

Sprite is launched to compete against 7UP.

Andy Warhol begins to create Coca-Cola pop art 

1963 — TaB

The diet soda TaB is launched.

Originally sweetened with Cyclamates, they would later be released with safer sweeteners like aspartame

Things Go Better with Coke” debuts. 

1966 — Fresca

Fresca logo
Source: The Coca-Cola Company

Fresca is launched

1969 — It’s the Real Thing

It’s the Real Thing” slogan is launched. 

1971 — Hilltop Commercial

The iconic Hilltop commercial debuts with its jingleI’d like to teach the world to sing.”

1972 — Mr. Pibb

Trying to compete with Dr. Pepper, Coke launches Mr. Pibb

1975 — Look Up America

With the economy looking glum, Coca-Cola launched its ad “Look Up America.” 

1979 — Soviet Union‍

Coca-Cola in the Soviet Union
© History Oasis

Coca-Cola opens in the Soviet Union.

Wanting to compete with the popular Mountain Dew–Coca-Cola debut Mello Yello

The famous slogan, “Have a Coke and Smile” campaign is launched. 

1980 — Roberto Goizueta

Roberto Goizueta becomes CEO and leads a shift towards diversified products and entertainment assets.

Coca-Cola switches completely to corn syrup in its American markets. 

1981 — Coke is it!

The company shakes it up with its new slogan “Coke is it!”.

1982 — Columbia Pictures‍

First Diet Coke Ad
Source: The Coca-Cola Company

Coca-Cola purchases Columbia Pictures for $692 million in an effort to expand into the entertainment industry.

Coca-Cola products start to appear in movies like E.T. 

Diet Coke is launched to cater to the health conscious community.

Diet Coke’s first slogan “Just for the Taste of It” debuts. 

Cherry Coke is launched.

The famous slogan “Enjoy Coca-Cola” debuts. 

1985 — New Coke

The Cola Wars heat up between Coca-Cola and Pepsi.

The company attempts one of its most infamous missteps—launching New Coke to replace the original Coca-Cola. But the new formula proves deeply unpopular with the soft-drinking public. 

After 79 days and over 40,000 angry calls, letters, boycotts and protests, Coca-Cola reintroduces "Coca-Cola Classic."

With New Coke fading, Coca-Cola returns to traditional advertising themes like holiday-themed campaigns featuring Santa Claus to reconnect with consumers.

Coca-Cola is sent into space with the Space Shuttle Challenger. 

1988 — You Can’t Beat the Feeling

You Can't Beat the feeling Coca-Cola ad
Source: The Coca-Cola Company

The slogan and ad campaign “You Can’t Beat the Feeling” debuts. 

In order to compete against the popular sports drink Gatorade––Coke debuts Powerade

Warren Buffet invests $1.3 billion in to Coca-Cola.


Coca-Cola Egyptian ad
Source: The Coca-Cola Company

1990 — World of Coca-Cola

Always Coca-Cola logo
Source: The Coca-Cola Company

Coca-Cola’s museum, the World of Coca-Cola debuts in Atlanta, Georgia. 

Coca-Cola art collaborator Keith Haring passes away.

1991 — Coca-Cola Enterprises

Coca-Cola merges some of its key bottling partners to form a new consolidated anchor bottler, Coca-Cola Enterprises, which helps centralize operations.

Limited edition playing cards are released to the public.

The ad campaign “Always Coca-Cola” debuts. 

1993 — India & Thums Up

Coca-Cola re-enters the Indian market by acquiring leading local brand Thums Up. 

Thums Up outsells Coca-Cola's trademark drinks which struggle to compete with strong domestic brands.

1994 — Obey Your Thirst‍

Sprite Obey Your thirst slogan
Source: The Coca-Cola Company

Trying to relate to the Hip-Hop community, Sprite debuts its “Obey Your Thirstslogan.

The trendy Diet Coke Break commercial debuts on TV. 

1995 — Holidays are Coming!

The iconic red trucks are shown on TVs for the first time with the Christmas ad campaign “Holidays are Coming!

Grunge themed beverage, OK Soda, is discontinued. 

Coca-Cola buys a majority stake in Barq’s Root Beer

1998 — China Expansion

Coca-Cola begins major expansion into China following years of tight governmental controls over foreign businesses. By the next decade China becomes one of Coca-Cola's top markets.

1999 — Dasani ‍

Dasani ad
Source: The Coca-Cola Company

The popular bottled water brand Dasani is launched. 

2000 — Glaceau

Coca-Cola acquires Glaceau, bringing in popular brands like Smartwater and Vitaminwater.

2001 — Sinaltrainal 

Coca-Cola is accused with a lawsuit of inadvertently funding Colombian death squads in Colombia. 

The trial Sinaltrainal vs Coca-Cola begins in Miami. 

Minute Maid launches Simply Beverages

2002 — Vanilla Coke

Vanilla Coke is launched. 

Coca-Cola acquires Seagram’s non-alcoholic line of products. 

2003 — Surge‍

Surge Soda logo
Source: The Coca-Cola Company

Surge Soda is discontinued

Fruitopia is discontinued in the U.S. markets. 

2005 — Iraq

After nearly 40 years of US-imposed embargo, Coca-Cola returns to Iraq in June 2005 following increasing stabilization. However plants face continued risks of instability over the next decade.

Coca-Cola Zero is launched.

Sprite Remix is discontinued. 

2006 — Coke Side of Life

The marketing campaign, “Coke Side of Life”, debuts. 

Iced tea brand Gold Peak Tea debuts. 

2007 — Fuze Beverage

Coca-Cola acquires trendy Fuze Beverage company known for teas, juices and fitness drinks like Fuze and NOS. The move continues Coke's attempted diversification.

2008 — Coca-Cola Blāk‍

Open Happiness Coca-Cola Ad
Source: The Coca-Cola Company

Coffee infused Coca-Cola Blāk is discontinued. 

Coca-Cola takes a minority stake in Honest Tea

2009 — Open Happiness

The ad campaigns “Open Happiness” and "Taste the Feeling” debuts. 

Dean Kamen invents the Coca-Cola Freestyle soda machine. 


Coca-Cola Real Magic art
Source: The Coca-Cola Company

2011 — Share a Coke

share a coke ad
Source: The Coca-Cola Company

The critically acclaimed “Share a Coke” ad campaign is launched worldwide. 

Vault Soda is discontinued. 

2012 — Myanmar

Coca-Cola re-enters Myanmar

In the summer London Olympics—Coca-Cola unveils its music marvel—the Beatbox

Coca-Cola launches its “Hug Me” ad campaign.

Michael Bloomberg attempts to ban large sodas

2015 — Monster 

Coca-Cola acquires Monster’s non-energy drink brands such as Hansen’s and Peace Tea

2017 — Coca-Cola Life 

Stevia infused Coca-Cola Life is discontinued.  

Coca-Cola is accused of greenwashing with its “World without Waste” campaign. 

Coca-Cola acquires Mexican mineral water brand, Topo Chico

Ginseng infused Coca-Cola Plus debuts in Japan.

2018 — Costa Coffee‍

Costa Coffee Ad
Source: Costa Coffee

Coca-Cola acquires the British coffeehouse chain Costa Coffee for $4.9 billion. This gives the company a major foothold in the global coffee industry to diversify beyond traditional sodas.

In his meeting with President Trump—the Korean dictator Kim-Jung-Un—reportedly orders a Coke

The vintage soda brand, Moxie Soda, is acquired. 

2019 — Chi Limited

After initially purchasing 40% in 2016, Coca-Cola acquires full ownership of Chi Limited, Nigeria's leading value-added dairy and juice company. This supports Coke's expansion in the African continent.

Coca-Cola acquires Kist Soda

Sparkling water brand AHA Sparkling Water debuts. 

2020 — COVID-19

As the COVID-19 pandemic batters beverage sales, Coca-Cola announces it will cut over 200 smaller brands - over half its portfolio - to focus on core profitable brands. Discontinued brands included Odwalla juices, ZICO coconut water, and regional sodas like Northern Neck Ginger Ale.

2021 — Real Magic

Coca-Cola real magic ad
Source: The Coca-Cola Company

The “Real Magic” ad campaign is launched. 

Present Day

The Coca-Cola Company continues operations today as one of the most recognizable consumer brands in the world, available in over 200 countries worldwide.

The company currently offers over 500 beverage brands led by trademark sodas Coca-Cola, Coke, Diet Coke, Sprite and Fanta. Other top brands include Minute Maid juices, Smartwater, Powerade sports drinks, and Georgia Coffee.

Over 1.9 billion Coca-Cola beverage servings are consumed worldwide every single day as of 2023.

Major recent priorities include responding to changing consumer preferences like health trends, expanding coffee offerings since the Costa Coffee acquisition, and pursuing sustainability efforts around plastic bottle use and recycling.

In 2023 and beyond, Coke aims to keep pace with beverage innovations while leveraging the nostalgia, sentiment and tradition behind being one of humanity's original modern consumer brands.

Many facts have not been included in this timeline as the history of Coca-Cola is vast.