Over 120 years ago Coca-Cola came under fire for some very controversial ingredients. In the late 19th century, a derivative from the coca plant, i.e. cocaine, was commonly used in medicines and the popular Coca-Cola. Cocaine was added to products commonly used for treating depression, anxiety, the common cold, headaches, among other ailments. In 1903 Coca-Cola had substantially reduced its use of the additive, as more was learned about its harmful side effects. The claim of curing headaches was also dropped, after it was challenged by the US Department of Agriculture.
Another ingredient that was considered harmful back in the day, that many today may take for granted, was added caffeine. In 1909 government officials had a stake-out at the Tennessee-Georgia border to prevent Coca-Cola from sending its product to the bottling company in Chattanooga. It was thought that this product was “habit-forming” and caused “serious mental and motor deficits.” This claim was made by Harvey Washington Wiley, who was head of the Bureau of Chemistry in the US Department of Agriculture at the time. He went to court against Coca-Cola’s attorneys in 1911. The case was called The United States Government v. Forty Barrels, Twenty Kegs Coca-Cola.
Fortunately for us cola drinkers, prohibition of our cherished beverage never took place. Still, there was a time, when their existence was challenged and put on the line. If Mr. Wiley had any say in it, we might be drinking decaffeinated cola, coffee, and/or tea for our all-day picker upper. Coffee and tea were considered acceptable, since caffeine in those products was an all-natural ingredient.
A renowned psychologist James McKeen came to caffeine’s defense, during the Forty Barrels case and performed a 40-day experiment of the product for Coca-Cola with human volunteers. The conclusion derived at was that added caffeine was not detrimental to one’s health. Although with more prodding from the Department of Agriculture, Coca-Cola did lower the amount of added caffeine in their product. The present condition of the caffeine in today’s colas could have gone either way.
Hopefully, this little background on Coca-Cola gives you a better understanding of some of the issues that the Food and Drug Administration, which officially came about in 1927, and other governmental agencies deal with. Not only that but the Better Business Bureau also is very much involved in making sure that businesses adhere to Truthfulness in Advertising standards. It wasn’t until 1912 that the BBB came about though — More on that later. Until then, “have a coke and a smile” or another beverage of your choice.
photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/s0mpho/2005550103/”>Abdulrahman BinSlmah</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/”>cc</a>
NOTE: The Coca-Cola Company is a BBB Accredited Business and a BBB National Partner.