Killer Coke is introduced as a patent medicine

On May 12, 1886:  In Atlanta, American pharmacist John Pemberton first sold his carbonated beverage Coca-Cola as a patent medicine, claiming that it cured a number of diseases. At the time, Pemberton was a wounded confederate colonel, struggling with morphine addiction. Over the years, Coca-cola product went from drug store counters to global markets. Now one of the largest distributors of beverages, the company sells proprietary syrup concentrate to licensed bottling plants.

Coca-cola is known for privatizing water sources in struggling communities, making their sweet product more affordable than a bottle of water. The company caused massive pollution and depletion of an aquifer in India, causing drought for an entire region. Community opposition to the bottling plant eventually shut it down.

Coca-cola is also famous for hiring armed guards to harass and repress labor rights activists. A campaign called Stop Killer Coke originated to end violence against union leaders in Columbia, but violence, abuse, and exploitation was uncovered in other countries as well. Notably China, El Salvador, Guatemala, India, Mexico, and Turkey. For more information, and to see a short documentary, visit

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