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False! Coca Cola did not sell 25 bottles only in its first year of sales

A meme posted on Facebook to inspire those who start small in business claims that global soft drink manufacturer Coca-Cola sold only 25 bottles in its first year of business.

“Whenever you feel bad, just remember that Coca-Cola only sold 25 bottles the first year. Never give up,” reads the message in a meme shared in Kenya.

The exact message was also shared by Facebook groups in South Africa, Uganda, Nigeria, Zambia and was among dozens of other inspirational quotes shared by a Facebook group and page in Kenya and Zimbabwe.

But did Coca-Cola sell only 25 bottles in its first year? We checked.


Coca-Cola first sold by the glass

According to the website World of Coca-Cola, which is maintained by the Coca-Cola Company, the drink was first created in 1886, by an Atlanta pharmacist, Dr John Pemberton. 

The site also notes that the first servings of the drink were not sold in bottles but in glasses, at five cents per glass. “During the first year, sales averaged a modest nine servings per day in Atlanta,” according to the website.

Bottled Coca-Cola came into being in 1894, according to World of Coca-Cola.

“In 1894, impressed by the growing demand for Coca‑Cola and the desire to make the beverage portable, Joseph Biedenharn installed bottling machinery in the rear of his Mississippi soda fountain, becoming the first to put Coca‑Cola in bottles. Large scale bottling was made possible just five years later,” says Coca-Cola. 

Information not accurate

Africa Check contacted Ann Moore, communications director at Coca-Cola Company, to comment on the accuracy of the claim in the meme.

“The statement is not correct.  In fact, we didn’t even sell Coca-Cola in bottles in our first year.  Coca-Cola was available as a fountain drink only in 1886 and we started by selling at one pharmacy, Jacob’s Pharmacy in Atlanta.  In those very early days, sales averaged about 9 drinks a day,” she said.

“I think the sentiment that even Coca-Cola started out small is correct, but the information is not accurate, and the images are misleading. We did not have bottles or cans back then,” said Moore. – Dancan Bwire


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