My original, not the millionst reproduction of the icon of advertising: Vin Mariani, the european brand, which inspired Coca Cola. As a lithograph by Jules Cheret in 1894. My original. This is a Paris newspaper insert from 1895. Torn through the ages, but not landed in the trash. Somebody put the fragile newsprint on a canvas at some point, and so the fragile lady has been preserved for me. The motif of the dancing Mademouiselle, tipsy with cocaine and alcohol, became the epitome of the Belle Epoque. The campaign is a milestone, Vin Mariani is considered the inventor of modern advertising. The recipe for Mariani was copied by Pemberton for French Coca Wine, and 1915 Coca Colas hobbleskirt was born in USA, the most famous bottle in the world.

The cocaine extracted from the leaves of the South American coca bush was certainly the inspiration for the cradle of success. The Spanish conquerors had observed that the Indians chewed coca leaves to curb hunger and overcome fatigue. The French pharmacist Angelo Mariani from Corsica used this knowledge in the mid-19th century and mixed coca extract into wine. The “Vin Mariani” named after him soon enjoyed great popularity.

At the time, Émile Zola, Jules Verne and Henrik Ibsen were as enthusiastic about this potent drug as the composer Charles Gounod or the actress Sarah Bernhardt. Thomas Edison was inspired by the “Vin Mariani”, the Queen, the Tsar and three Popes enjoyed it to the fullest. One of them, Pope Leo XIII, was so taken with the cocaine-alcohol mixture that he awarded Mariani a gold medal. In Germany, even the military was listening. In 1886, the Allgemeine Allgemeine Zeitung recommended coca wine as a “new food supply in this year’s maneuver”.

And just like every successful product, the “Vin Mariani” soon found a copycat: The American John Stith Pemberton, a morphine-dependent pharmacist, produced a similar mixture around 1880 and sold it as “Pemberton’s French Wine Coca”. The wine-containing product soon encountered the growing resistance of the American abstainer movement. At the time, however, cocaine had a good reputation, it was supposed to cure alcoholism. So Pemberton omitted the controversial alcohol, created a cocaine drink without wine and called it “Coca-Cola”. He consistently advertised his creation as “functional food”: Coca-Cola was “a valuable brain food that could cure all possible nervous symptoms: nervous headaches, neuralgia, hysteria and melancholy”.

The most important ingredient in Coca-Cola was cocaine at the time. It is hardly surprising that the company soon had many loyal customers who were eagerly awaiting the next delivery of their tonic. The caffeine-containing cola nuts, which form the second part of the product name, probably didn’t contain anything, but they were good for advertising because they were said to have similarly positive health effects as today’s multivitamin juices. The manufacturer preferred to get the caffeine from the Darmstadt-based pharmaceutical company Merck.

When cocaine was banned, it appeared that Coca-Cola, the health potion, was over. In order not to change the taste, coca leaves were used from 1903, but the cocaine had been withdrawn beforehand. However, the old target group broke away and a new one was urgently needed. Now the advertisement targeted young people who were attracted to the continuing smell of the forbidden that surrounded Coca-Cola. This was the birth of a refreshing drink that became a worldwide success even without alcohol and cocaine.

Taken from: Pollmer, Warmuth: Encyclopedia of Popular Food Errors. Piper publishing house 2002

12 thoughts on “MY MONA LISA

  1. As a person who has researched The Coca-Cola Company and its advertising for over 50 years and has written 2 books about the same topics in about a dozen languages, I say that your claim that Vin Mariani (or whatever his name is) is bunk!

    • Hello Bill Bateman,
      great to meet you! Please read the labels. Pemberton developed the product as a copy in USA. It based on the receipe from Angelo Marianis Coca Wine est. 1863, the ultimate global nerve tonic brand with cocaine and professional marketing worldwide, decades before the brand Coca Cola was established. In addition, the industrial production of soda water by Jacob Schweppe in 1783 and the invention of the refrigerator by Carl Linde in 1876 were decisive for the success of the product. In the end, the invention of the crown cork by Baltimore’s William Painter in 1892 and the Owens Illinois glass machine in 1908 created the basis for Coca Cola’s global success. The summary is: milestones for Coca Colas softdrink-history are europeans Spa 18c, Selters 19c, Schweppes 18c and Vin Mariani 19c. A follower is Red Bull 21c.

      • That book, Coca-Cola the first 100 years, it was written by a hack. It is nobody’s BIBLE in the realm of Coca-Cola Collectors! Ask any Coca-Cola collector who has attended at least 10 of our 45 conventions. She is not a collector! I have attended 44 of the 45 convention of the Coca-Cola Collectors Club. I have NOT seen the book about Sweppes because I am not interested in carbonated mixers for alcoholic drinks. Too bad you did not have time to read my response. I have the first 100 years of Coca-Cola book because I was an invited guest at the Coca-Cola celebration in 1986 and that book was being given away free to guests. I shall have to find that book and see if the author said anything on which to base your contention that Sweppes invented Coca-Cola. I doubt it. She is not a recognized expert about Coca-Cola. If you cannot bring anything NEW to the discussion, I am finished talking to you on the subject. Have a lovely weekend. And I will do the same. Bill B

    • Hello Mr. Bill Bateman,

      you wrote me this message: Hello Krackher Hans-Jurgen,
      Going into this I know I am wasting my time to convince you that you are wrong. However, I will try. In the United States, amateurs produced books to make a quick buck and/or put down Coca-Cola. It is sometimes hard to counteract long told fables. It would probably take me the rest of the night to find your article on that lousy website. So I will have to depend on my memory of what you said to respond. I used to teach Math and Computer Science and my speciality was navigation. That website is awful.
      Coca-Cola has always been hurt by rumors. For example, when the United States occupied the Philippines after the Spanish American war, Coca-Cola was not permitted on Army bases because it supposedly contained 2% alcohol. A total lie of course, but another story to harm Coca-Cola’s reputation.
      Here is my rebuttal. There is a popular belief that Coca-Cola came about by removing the alcohol from French Wine Coca. WRONG
      You are also under the mistaken belief that cocaine was an intentional ingredient in Coca-Cola. WRONG
      The label and the bottle showing French Wine Coca that you pictured have nothing to do with Coca-Cola. It was an entirely new concoction. It certainly did not depend on the tonic water being produced by Sweppes. It used carbonated water, but I doubt that that Sweppes claims ownership of all carbonated beverages.
      Pemberton was in the habit on “inventing” drugs for which he registered a label and then sold the rights to his fellow druggists in Atlanta. Some of those products are listed on the first calendars he produced advertising Coca-Cola. De-Lec-Ta-Lave was a powder for brushing your teeth. Botanic Blood Balm was another such product. Pemberton apparently liked alliteration. When the name Coca-Cola was suggested by his bookkeeper Frank Robinson, Candler liked it. Robinson is also given credit for the fancy Spencerian script used to write the word “Coca-Cola.”
      Pemberton followed the same pattern with Coca-Cola as he had for other products. He made up a label and had it registered. He submitted 5 pink labels and they only wanted 2 of them so they Patent Office tossed 3 of them. Once registered, he sold part of Coca-Cola to two other investors. So he was not the sole proprietor any more. Randy Schaeffer, my coauthor, and I wrote an entire issue of the Coca-Cola Club newsletter on who had owned part of Coca-Cola for a while.
      Candler got interested in Coca-Cola because he had a glass and it cured his headache. That of course happened because the caffeine narrowed blood vessels in his brain. He then set about making deals to get total control of Coca-Cola. There used to be 5 times the caffeine in Coca-Cola as there is now. That was the active ingredient in Coca-Cola. Caffeine was an added ingredient. It was not there because they were using Cola nuts and Kola leaves. They dumped lots of caffeine in there.
      By 1892, Candler had 100% control of Coca-Cola. He then referred to himself as the sole proprietor of Coca-Cola. One of the first things he did at that time was to change the ingredients in Coca-Cola so it tasted less like medicine and more flavorful. By the way, Pemberton continued to illegally sell other formulas for Coca-Cola to other druggists. He was not an altogether honest man. There were also rumors that in his later years Pemberton was addicted to cocaine as well.

      When the ownership of Coca-Cola eventually passed completely from Pemberton to Candler, there is an official list of ingredients that actually passed from the one man to the other. It is completely listed in the law books produced by the Coca-Cola Company at the time. Cocaine was NOT a forbidden ingredient in those days. It was NOT listed. Given a list of ingredients, one might think you could imitate Coca-Cola, but the formula for cooking up Coca-Cola included how much of certain ingredients were to be added and when they would be added. It also spelled out what temperatures were to be used and for how long. That was a closely guarded secret that only a few employees knew.

      The taste of Coca-Cola drink produced by Pemberton and the Coca-Cola drink produced by Candler were completely different to the taste. Candler continued to change ingredients in slight ways to improve the flavor. That is probably why all the knock off products sold as Coca-Cola by Pemberton never caught on.
      There was a period of time when investigators would find a trace element of cocaine. It was take 30 glasses for someone to feel the effect. Once discovered, the Company changed suppliers and cocaine was not detected again. That was by 1903. The Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906 confirmed the purity of the ingredients in Coca-Cola.
      That’s my story and I am sticking to it. I hope you enjoyed this story and will think about the fact that it is true.

      Best regards, Bill Bateman

      Dear Mr. Bateman, now I also come to thank you for your time, your detailed input and your constructive criticism. Your mail is written with a lot of passion and I am very impressed. Certainly you belong to the narrow circle of competent Coca-Cola historians.

      Most of your comments relate to the content of my chapter “My Mona Lisa”. As you can see from the source, this content does not come from me, but from: Pollmer, Warmuth: Encyclopedia of Popular Food Errors. Piper publishing house 2002. So you do not express my opinion as the author of
      Please allow me to say something about myself and the subject of the collection. I was born in 1951 and have been successfully active in marketing as a creative director and brand maker since 1968. At Ted Bates, Young & Rubicam or J.Walter Thompson, I oversaw global brands like Colgate, Mars, Ford, Kraft and many more from Europe. A photo from my youth with a bottle and Jan Miner should confirm that 🙂

      For 5 years I have been investing a lot of time, money and my experience in building my marketing cabinet in Potsdam near Berlibn, Germany. My collection theme is: Digging to the roots of Coca Cola (… of worldbrands). You can take that literally. Because I am in close contact all over the world with bottle diggers, wreck divers, probe seekers and experts who have been looking for the first commercial product of mankind in the garbage of the past 300 years: packaged water. The bottles have evolved from leather bags, amphorae and jugs. The world’s drinks have developed from carbonated water, extracts, fermentation or distillation. Among them, the hobo skirt from Coca Cola is still the most famous and best-selling branded product in the world.

      That fascinated me, and so I research and collect the development towards Coca Cola until 1915 – backwards. Nobody will deny that Coca Mariani or Schweppes, Selters or Spa, the bottle cap like the fridge, the Prohibition like the Sodafountains, or the Worldexhibition 1851 like the Hobbleskirt 1915 – they all contributed their part of the genetics that are still successful today Coca Cola matters.

      In short: my still full Hubbleskirt DOTHAN ALA. 1915 with the original bottle cap is the symbolic end of a great development for me. It culminated in the 19th century of great inventors and entrepreneurs,
      who acted witty and fizzy.

      That’s why I named my MarketingCabinet SPIRITSCHWEPPES. The story begins at the water source, continues through the gourd and amphora, bellarmine and eggbottle to the stand-up bottle and ends with Coca Cola 1915, the iconographic world product.

      So, Mr. Bateman, now I have answered you with a lot of time and heart. I hope you appreciate the exchange of ideas and we will keep in touch.

      With all the best wishes for a fizzy weekend, your hjk
      I stick my nose in coca-cola. From cult drink to collectible
      Please excuse any inconsistencies in the google translater 🙂

    • Here you say that Vin Mariani “inspired” Coca-Cola. Maybe when Pemberton was taking cocaine. That’s better than claiming that Vin Mariani invented Coca-Cola. But they really are two distinct products. I need to get some sleep. Good night. Bill Bateman, Professor Emeritus of Mathematics and Computer Science

      • Hello Mr. Bateman, you deserve sleep. Because I am currently holding your book COCA COLA, which Nebel Verlag has published in German. So far I thought that you were writing for the Coca Cola Archives. From the imprint I learn that it is your and Mr. Schaeffer’s private collections for the objects shown. As I have heard, Coca Cola Germany has dissolved its archive. It seems all the more important to me to support every private, international collector’s initiative, especially when it comes to historical objects. I wish you a nice Sunday and now I’m going to the German Baltic Sea to be free of Corona viruses and offline for the next week 🙂

      • No wonder you did not think much of us. Writing for the Coca-Cola Company? How insulting! They do not care about collecting only to the extent that it builds its Company reputation and helps them sell more Coca-Cola. We have been friends with the Company and people who work there. Other writers trying to make money have not been friends with the Company. In order to have an angle to sell their manuscripts to a publisher they think it is important to cast doubts on the Company, especially in regard to the cocaine issue. Over the years we have been allowed to attend Company meetings and meet all the leaders of the Company. Never more so than when we were invited to attend the May 1986 Bottlers Convention when the Company brought in 13,000 bottlers and their families from all over the world. We were producing the Coca-Cola Club Newsletter as Editors of the Club Newsletter so they invited us to attend as members of the Press so we were issued press credentials. They put us up in the Plaza Hotel. With Press credentials we were allowed to attend any and all meetings that happened that week including press conferences. When they put on there shows at the Omni Entertainment venue downtown, we got to sit in the press section. Members of the press questioned us when they wanted real answers to what the Company people were telling them. Heady stuff for us two nobodies. Phil Mooney (Archivist for 30 years) and Ted Ryan (Archivist for 10 years after Phil) have been both been to the house. They both admitted that in front of others that we had more of the early Coca-Cola items from from 1890 to 1910 than the Archives and those items were in better condition. Music to our ears, but it never got into print. The advanced Coca-Cola collectors know the truth. I am very proud of the fact that I alone negotiated the agreement by which the Club got to use “Coca-Cola” in the name of the Club. The Club members adopted the new name by a vote of over 90%. Randy and I basically controlled the direction of the Club for the 5 years 1984 through 1988 inclusive when we were officers of the Executive Board. The Club membership reached over 8000. In a sense we walked away after the 5 years because it was eating up our lives. Hard to get used to at first, but it was the right choice for us. We were very involved in the Governance Process at Kutztown University where we worked. A school of over 10,000 students at the time. We both took turns being President of the University Senate, etc. I was also chair of the Math & Computer Science Department as well. Randy was the Chair of the Curriculum Process, the General Education Committee and the Committee to Restructure Governance. Randy also gave what is regarded as the best Commencement Speech in School history in May 2014. We were married in June 2014 (the first time it was allowed in Pennsylvania after living together for 42 years and only because it gave us certain United States government benefits and protections that we would not get otherwise although we had spent over $10,000 for legal expenses to protect ourselves from anti-gay forces in the United States. TMI – too much information I would guess. Unfortunately, Randy died in October, 2014 from a doctor’s mistake that I that did not allow me to sue the bastards. In the time period after we were Newsletter Editors, we gave a series of presentations at the annual Coca-Cola Club Conventions. There were two types of presentations. One called “How do we now that?” was informational and the other for fun was called “Coca-Cola Jeopardy!” like the TV show. Both were multimedia presentations and we delighted in packing the room each time. We were known among collectors as the #1 experts about The Coca-Cola Company and Its Advertising. Truth is that Randy was the #1 expert. Once he passed away, I was given that title by people. An uncomfortable title, since people expect me to know everything which is, of course, impossible with Coca-Cola. One more thing to tell you is about house we bought house in 1988 where we still live. It was a large house so my parents could move in with is. We started that first year having an Open House every December where we invited people we came into contact with each year from faculty at Kutztown University and Penn State Berks, the Centre Park Historical District where we live, people who worked on this old 1898 house, and relatives of course. It is still known as the social event of the year in our area. We even have U.S. House of Representatives, Pennsylvania State, and City of Reading officials attend. Catered food now, but all done by Randy at first. One of our helpers who started in 2011, and I became good friends after Randy died in October 2014. Ryan helped me rehabilitate after a falling accident in 2015. Two years later we married and we still give the Open House party that was started over 30 years ago. Are you still awake? I was following in the footsteps of your much more impressive resume description that you were kind enough to pass along to me a couple of messages ago. You are invited to visit if you like. A serious invitation! We like to show off our collection.

    • Hello back dear Mr. Bateman. I would be very happy if you would occasionally look beyond the horizon of Coca Cola and help me dig for the roots of the brand. If not: just like many fans around the world, simply enjoy my collection and my photographs. Cheers from Germany, your

      • Dear Spirit of Sweppes, I only care about Coca-Cola. The people at the Archives agree that when it comes to the oldest Coca-Cola advertising, we have the best Coca-Cola collection in the world, including them – more pieces and better condition. Randy and I met all the top executives at Coca-Cola. (Randy died in 2014 after living together for 42 years.) We could not help but learn about the Company and as well as the product. We collected lots of different advertising at first and then we focused on Coca-Cola and sold all the other stuff except for a few pieces in the powder room under that stairs where we have choice Hires, Pepsi, Moxie, Dr. Pepper, Hoods, etc items. We say, “The P-word is in the P-room.” I did not find the Ann Hoy book yet, but then again I have not looked. A bunch of people recently wrote to me about your claim that Vin Mariana invented Coca-Cola. That’s why wrote to you. I am sure that your Sweppes collection is amazing, but if you look at our Facebook website under albums, you might find that amazing too. Give up the claim that Vin Mariana invented Coca-Cola, and I will be much more friendly. People here would stop thinking you are nuts. Best regards, Bill Bateman

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