Fact check: Was Coca-Cola founder really a ‘shikanji’ seller? Here’s the truth

By: | Updated: June 12, 2018 10:54 AM

"Who started Coca-Cola? Who was he, does anyone know? I will tell you who he was. The person who started Coca-Cola was a 'shikanji' (lemonade) seller," said Rahul Gandhi at a public gathering.

Fact check: Was Coca-Cola founder a 'shikanji' seller? Here's the truthThe person who started Coca-Cola was a ‘shikanji’ (lemonade) seller,” said Rahul Gandhi at a public gathering.

“Who started Coca-Cola? Who was he, does anyone know? I will tell you who he was. The person who started Coca-Cola was a ‘shikanji’ (lemonade) seller,” said Rahul Gandhi at a public gathering. The Congress President said a similar thing about McDonald’s, that its founder was running a dhaba (roadside restaurant). However, the reality is the person who started Coca-Cola was not a ‘shikanji’ seller but a pharmacist.

In 1886, in New York Harbour, John Pemberton, a pharmacist from Atlanta stirred up a fragrant and caramel-coloured liquid, which he then combined with carbonated water just out of curiosity. It was given to customers who liked it so much that they were ready to pay 5 cents for a glass then. Pemberton’s bookkeeper, Frank Robinson, named the mixture Coca-Cola, according to company’s official website.

Although, it was not easy for John Pemberton in the beginning. In the first year, Pemberton sold just nine glasses of Coca-Cola a day. Between 1888 and 1891, Atlanta businessman Asa Griggs Candler secured rights to the business for a total of about $2,300 (about £1,500). Asa Griggs Candler became Coca-Cola’s first president and the first to bring real vision to the business and the brand. Again, he was not a ‘shikanji’ seller. He was a drugstore clerk and manufacturer of patent medicines.

But Rahul Gandhi is close when he says that McDonald’s founder ran a ‘dhaba’. The McDonald brothers — Richard and Maurice McDonald — opened a hot dog stand in Monrovia, California in 1937, inspired by a local hot dog stand that sold hot dogs — which was then a profitable business.

Rahul Gandhi was addressing an OBC national convention of the party at Talkatora Stadium in Delhi. Targetting the Narendra Modi government over a host of issues, Rahul said that there is no dearth of skilled people in the country but the issue is with the government that “doesn’t provide the opportunity to our talented people”. The Congress president said that the employment opportunities in the country have declined and accused the government of extending favour to a particular section of people.

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