Coca-Cola, often referred to as simply Coke, is by far the best-known soda brand in the world. The logo is familiar to people around the world, and the soda itself enjoys major brand recognition and brand loyalty. This comes from an aggressive strategy by the owners of sponsorship and market saturation.
Like many sodas, Coke started as a patent medicine in the late 1800s. Created by John Pemberton, Coke became a staple soft drink after prohibition laws were passed in Georgia; while it was initially offered as a medicine, Coke was consumed by many people simply for its taste. The brand-name "Coca-Cola" came under litigation when the four recipe-holders tried to incorporate; Asa Candler, one of the recipe-holders, purchased the name from Pemberton's son after the inventor's death, and eventually became sole owner of the name and the company. This allowed Candler to pursue an aggressive marketing campaign, offering Coke not only as a medicine, but as a drink to be enjoyed by all ages; Candler may have also invented the coupon. The predominance of Coke ads in media and on merchandise allowed the product to become almost a requirement of U.S. cultural identity. These sales exploded with the innovation of bottling the soda rather than selling it at fountains; the original ingredient of cocaine extracts was slowly discontinued, stopping entirely in 1905. While current-day Coke still uses coca leaves for flavoring, all opiates have been removed from the extracts before use.
Candler's position of aggressive marketing allowed him to dominate the soft drink market for many years; competing soda brands have at times outsold Coke, but it remains both a cultural staple of American society, and a ubiquitous symbol around the world.