In 1891 Atlanta businessman Asa Candler would become the Coca-Cola Corporation’s first president and the first to bring real vision to the business and the brand. Candler was a business tycoon who transformed his investment into a world-wide business. He began his business career as a drugstore owner in Atlanta, witnessed the popularity of Coca-Cola and in 1887 purchased the formula for Coca-Cola syrup. Candler’s flair for merchandising boosted the sale of Coca-cola syrup nearly tenfold. Candler sold his drugstore and devoted his full attention to “his” soft drink.
Patents and Dividends
On January 29, 1892, Asa, his brother John S. Candler, Frank Robinson (Pemberton’s former business partner) and two associates formed a Georgia Corporation named the Coca-Cola Company, Inc. The initial capitalization was $100,000. In 1893 Candler registered the name in the United States Patent Office. That same year the first dividend was paid at $20 per share. It amounted to twenty percent of the book value of a share of stock.
Merchandising and Marketing
Candler implemented an intense merchandising and marketing program. Coupons for a complimentary glass of Coca-Cola were distributed, along with souvenir fans, calendars, clocks, and countless novelties, all depicting the trademark script logo. The company outfitted distributing pharmacies with clocks, urns and apothecary scales bearing the Coca-Cola brand. It worked.
The Secret Syrup
By 1895 Candler had built syrup plants in Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles and Illinois. In the same year, Candler announced in his annual report to shareholders that Coca-Cola is now consumed in every state and territory in the United States.
Candler was fiercely protective of the recipe for the syrup. He oversaw the mixture of every drop of syrup. The secret formula was referred to as “7X” and over the years the formula experienced severe scrutiny. Controversies often arose about the amount of cocaine, caffeine and sugar in the formula. Adjustments would be made to assure federal standards and still maintain the quality taste of Coca-Cola. Critiques of its health effects were a constant topic for debate.
Fifty years later the drink had reached the status of a national icon for the United States. Candler made millions of dollars from his investment. He became a major philanthropist for the Methodist Church, Emory Hospital and University and the city of Atlanta. He served as Mayor of Atlanta from 1916-1919.
Candler’s philosophy was to stimulate the desire for Coca-Cola in as many ways and as much as possible, and then to have it readily available everywhere.