In 1885, a man named John Pemberton created a drink called “Pemberton’s French Wine Coca”. It was a mixture of alcohol, cocaine, the kola nut and an herb called damiana. According to Pemberton in an interview with the Atlanta Journal, his wine was sold and marketed mainly to “scientists, scholars, poets, divines, lawyers, physicians, and others devoted to extreme mental exertion.”
Pemberton originally called for the enormous dose of five ounces of coca leaf per gallon of syrup. Towards the end of the century however, fear of drug abuse led to the prohibition of cocaine. Therefore the new 1903 “Coca-Cola” had the cocaine removed. However there was still flavoring from the coca leaf.
Soon, instead of using the fresh coca leaves, Coca-Cola made use of so-called “spent leaves”. These leaves were the leftovers of the cocaine-extraction process, used because it gave a unique flavor that was missing in the newer recipe.
Today, Coca-Cola employs the Stepan Company in Maywood, New Jersey to extract cocaine from the coca leaves. In fact, Stepan Company is the only manufacturing plant authorized to import and process the coca plant by the Federal Goverment. It imports the coca leaves from Peru and Bolivia and (after extracting the cocaine) sells the used leaves to Coca-Cola and the Cocaine to a pharmaceutical manufacturer in Missouri: Mallinckrodt.
Coca-Cola is the only corporation in the United States to legally sell product with coca-leaves today.