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This Day in Georgia History

November 25, 1885

Prohibition Helped in Development of Coke

By a margin of just over 200 votes, voters of Atlanta and Fulton County approved a referendum providing for prohibition. The vote to prohibit the sale of alcoholic beverages would result in one unintended - but very important - consequence. At the time, a French wine named Vin Mariani was popular in America. The Bordeaux wine was distinct because it was treated with coca leaves. This inspired Atlanta druggist John S. Pemberton in 1884 to capitalize on the craze by developing what he initially called Pemberton’s French Wine Coca. However, with prohibition now in effect in Atlanta and Fulton County, Pemberton turned his attention to developing a non-alcoholic, cola version of his French Wine Coca. He decided to call the new beverage Coca-Cola, which he then promoted widely as the ideal temperance beverage. Atlanta’s experiment with prohibition only lasted two years, after which Pemberton returned to producing his French Wine Coca. But it was his carbonated cola drink that would become the most popular soft drink in the world.