Hand holding can of Sparkling CBD Cola while relaxing in green garden

Our Sparkling CBD Cola may be the best option out there (in our admittedly biased opinion), but it's far from the first cola product to hit the market. Let's review the highlights of cola's unusual journey from its original form to our favorite modern-day flavor.

Where It All Began

Cola was originally crafted by Georgia pharmacist and retired Colonel John Pemberton. Following several serious injuries in the civil war, Pemberton struggled with an addiction to morphine for many years. This sparked a determination to concoct an affordable, opium-free remedy for common aches and pains. He'd heard of a French innovation known as coca wine, a blend of wine and cocaine marketed openly (and bafflingly) as a “health tonic.” Pemberton's original vision barely differed from the French variety, but his drug-and-alcohol-soda dreams were dashed by the onset of prohibition in 1886. Pemberton then adapted his original recipe into a non-alcoholic blend including carbonated water, coca leaves and kola nuts. Without alcohol, the mixture met the era's standards for commercial sale, despite its continued inclusion of cocaine until the early twentieth century.

In 1886, Pemberton decided he'd reached a winning combination for his “health tonic,” and began visiting local establishments with samples of his recipe. Once the team at Jacobs' Pharmacy in Atlanta, Georgia had a taste, they quickly agreed to sell it in their store for five cents per serving. In that era, many pharmacies had their own soda fountains and refreshment counters, which provided a social setting for their small-town shoppers and source of additional income.

Building a Brand

Pemberton's claims that the drink was potent remedy for nervous disorders remain dicey at best, but no matter its medicinal value, customers couldn't get enough. Thrilled by the drink's success in his own community, he set out to further popularize the brew with no idea of the fame his creation would one day reach. Pemberton consulted his bookkeeper, Frank M. Robinson, to help him build the new drink's popularity. Robinson decided on the name Coca-Cola and helped increase the drink's distribution to other Atlanta-area pharmacies and restaurants.

Old-fashioned sign advertises original brand of Coca Cola, sold in the late 1800s for five cents per serving

Sadly, Pemberton became terminally ill shortly after the brand got started, and he sold off his shares of Coca Cola for $2,300 just before his death in 1888. Renowned businessman Asa Candler took control of the burgeoning business, eventually taking the already profitable brand to unprecedented heights. Business rose very slowly at first until Coca-Cola reached the hands of a local giant in 1894 – candy manufacturer Joseph Biednharn. Biedenharn Candy Company began bottling Coca-Cola that year for widespread distribution – with average sales rates skyrocketing 4,000% by 1900. By 1920, the Coca-Cola company had over a thousand bottling plants in the United States alone, and the enterprise soon expanded overseas to Asian and European markets, gradually rising to dominate the beverage market worldwide.

A New Contender

Meanwhile, as Coca-Cola steadily gained international acclaim, North Carolina drug store owner Caleb Bradham was hard at work on a concoction of his own. Bradham released a similar drink in 1898 as an alleged remedy for dyspepsia, eventually dubbing the drink “Pepsi-Cola.” Just a year after its introduction, Bradham has sold more than 8,000 gallons of syrup.

The Pepsi-Cola brand saw its share of hardship and turnover in the years surrounding America's Great Depression, with ownership eventually reaching the hands of Charles Guth. After several years of struggling to keep the business afloat, Guth offered to sell the brand to the Coca-Cola company in the early 1930s. Coca-Cola's owners didn't think much of Pepsi-Cola's potential and rejected Guth's proposed buyout without so much as a starting bid.

Still undeterred, Guth devoted himself to the cola drink's success, carefully adjusting Bradham's original recipe and the product's marketing. It was Guth who first offered the drink in twelve-ounce portions and lowered Pepsi-Cola's prices, which worked wonders to popularize the brand. After years of Coca-Cola's unrivaled success, Pepsi-Cola reached their level of profits and noteriety, and the brands have battled it out as beverage industry giants ever since.

Mixing Things Up

Recipes for new-and-improved cola products have evolved over more than a century of history, with individual brands adding their own unique twists to the classic flavor. Most cola options include rich flavors and spices like vanilla, caramel, nutmeg and cinnamon. Unfortunately, many modern cola manufacturers don't skimp on additives like caffeine citrate, sucrose and high fructose corn syrup. Admittedly, cola products have contained worse components in the past, but there's no reason to pollute your body with needless toxins when delicious, affordable alternatives exist. Colorado's Best Drinks offers our tasty take on the beloved cola flavor with our Sparkling CBD Cola, with just five all-natural ingredients in each low-calorie BPA-free can. We pride ourselves in offering a natural variety of the classic American soft drink, with carefully measured and tested components in each of our seven flavors, so you always know exactly what you're drinking.

Times Have Changed - But Some Classics Remain

BPA-free can of Sparkling CBD Cola in brown leather baseball catcher's mitt

Don't let social distancing stop you from enjoying your favorite flavors. If you order a twelve-pack or a forty-eight pack of Sparkling CBD Cola today, we'll bring a case straight to your doorstep to safely savor from the comfort of your couch. All five flavors of our hemp CBD sodas (and our two flavored Sparkling CBD water options) are delicious and refreshing. Our products all contain phytocannabinoid-rich, broad spectrum hemp extract. Better yet, each flavor of sparkling CBD soda is vegan, non-GMO, and free of gluten, sodium, and preservatives. PCR hemp extract is one of just five ingredients in every can of Colorado's Best Drinks, and you’ll taste that sweet simplicity with every sip.

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