For God, Country, and Coca-Cola by Mark Pendergrast, 1999, Excerpts
Pemberton may have first resorted to morphine to ease the pain of his own war wounds, continuing its use throughout his periodic illnesses. Pemberton was an addict. “Morphinism,” as it was called then, was increasingly prevalent, particularly among physicians and pharmacists. Pemberton had a personal interest in coca as a cure for morphine addiction. In the late 1970s, Pemberton first read about this miraculous new substance.
Pemberton told a reporter in 1885 that “I am convinced from actual experiments that coca is the very best substitute for opium, with a person addicted to the opium habit that has ever discovered. It supplies the place of that drug, and the patient who will use it as a means of cure, may deliver himself from the pernicious habit without inconvenience or pain.”
Pemberton granted that cocaine, if misused, could be dangerous, but he same could be said for any effective medicine. “I wish it were in my power to substitute the Coca and compel all who are addicted to the use of opium, morphine, alcohol, tobacco, or other narcotic stimulants to live on the coca plant or any of its true preparations,” he said. “It is perfectly wonderful what coca does.”
Pemberton’s label for his new syrup: “Coca-Cola Syrup and Extract for Soda Water and other Carbonated Beverages. This Intellectual Beverage and Temperance Drink contains the valuable Tonic and Nerve Stimulant properties of the Coca plant and Cola nuts, and makes not only a delicious, exhilarating, refreshing and invigorating, but a valuable Brain Tonic and a cure for all nervous affections – Sick, Head-Ache, Neuralgia, Hysteria, Melancholy, etc. The peculiar flavor of Coca-Cola delights every palate.”