Saturday, December 19, 2015
Secret Formula by Frederick Allen
And now that you know that I prefer coke, it should be no surprised that I requested a book about the history of the Coca Cola company from NetGalley. I wasn't expecting to find the secret formula (that other extremely famous myth about coke) inside, but I didn't expect the history of coke to be this interesting.
For some reason, I always thought coke was a family company. I think it's because of the secret formula thing - if it's taken over, then the formula might be leaked, at least, that was my thinking. But as it turns out, coke was invented by John Pemberton, and then after some business events happen, Asa Candler ended up in control of it, and then Ernest Woodruff (who didn't come across as a very likeable person to me) led a group of investors to take over it, and after that, his son Robert Woodruff. Along the way, the company was listed, World War I and II happened, and coke become a symbol of America (not in that order, obviously).
I should probably just say up front what this book is not. This book is not a business guide disguised as a biography of the company, although I supposed if you wanted, you could learn from it. This book is not a look at America through the eyes of one of its leading companies, although again, since coke did become a symbol of America, it's not surprise that some stuff (like politics, modernisation and social changes) are mentioned, but only as far as they affect coke, or coke affecting them.
This is a book about the history of coke. Everything else, like society, coke's rivals, the legal battles about copyright and drugs in food, all that is brought in as and when it affects coke. If coke was a company that grew placidly and never made mistakes, this book might have been boring. But as it is, coke was dominated by interesting personalities from the start, and the twist and turns of the business made for good read.
Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for a free and honest review.