Asa Griggs Candler Biography

Asa Griggs Candler, an American business tycoon, is best known as the founder of the Coca Cola Company. Despite being unable to pursue his dream of studying medicine due to a downturn in his family’s fortune, Candler became a successful druggist and eventually opened his own pharmaceutical business in Atlanta. Through buying formulas and manufacturing and selling them, he amassed considerable wealth. In 1888, he acquired the formula for a sweet drink called ‘Coca Cola’ and recognized its potential. Candler formed ‘The Coca Cola Company’ and registered its trademark, making changes to the ingredients and expanding production. By 1895, Coca Cola was available in every US state, and by 1901, it had reached Europe. Candler was also known for his philanthropy, generously donating to schools and universities.

Quick Facts

  • Died At Age: 77
  • Family:
    • Spouse/Ex-: Lucy Elizabeth Howard (m. 1878)
    • Father: Samuel Charles Candler
    • Mother: Martha
    • Children: Asa Griggs Candler, Charles Howard Candler, Jr., Lucy Beall Candler Owens Heinz Leide, Walter T. Candler, William Candler
  • Born Country: United States
  • American Men
  • Capricorn Entrepreneurs
  • Died on: March 12, 1929
  • Place of death: Atlanta, Georgia, United States
  • Cause of Death: Stroke
  • Notable Alumni: Emory University
  • U.S. State: Georgia
  • More Facts
  • Education: Emory University

Childhood & Early Life

Asa Griggs Candler was born on December 30, 1851, in Villa Rica, Georgia. His father, Samuel Charles Candler, was a prosperous merchant and planter, as well as a member of the legislature of South Carolina. His mother’s name was Martha Bernetta Beall Candler. Asa was the eighth of eleven children, with seven brothers and three sisters. He began his formal education shortly before his fifth birthday, but the Civil War broke out when he was ten years old, causing financial strain on his family and leading to his education being continued at home. Despite wanting to study medicine, Asa gave up the opportunity to attend Emory College in order to support his brother’s desire to become a clergyman.

A Pharmacist

Unable to pursue medicine, Asa Griggs Candler decided to become a pharmacist. He started working as an apprentice to Doctor Best and Doctor Kirkpatrick, gaining basic knowledge about the trade. He later moved to Atlanta in search of better opportunities. In 1876, while working in a drugstore in Atlanta, Candler opened a pharmacy called ‘Hallman and Candler’ in partnership with Marcellus Hallman. He began buying and manufacturing patent items, such as ‘blood balm’ and perfumes, which proved to be highly profitable. Eventually, he bought out his partner’s share.

Establishing Coca Cola

While Candler was expanding his business, biochemist John Stith Pemberton was developing a formula for a morphine-free painkiller. He accidentally mixed the formula with carbonated water and decided to sell it as a non-alcoholic ‘fountain drink’. Candler, intrigued by the discovery, bought the recipe and made improvements to the ingredients and manufacturing process. In 1891, he began marketing the product as Coca Cola. Sales skyrocketed, and in 1892, Candler sold his pharmaceutical business to focus on Coca Cola. He formed a corporation called ‘The Coca Cola Company’ in partnership with his brother and two others. The company registered the trademark ‘Coca Cola’ in 1893 and paid its first dividend in the same year.

Expansion and Other Activities

Coca Cola continued to expand, establishing plants in cities like Dallas, Chicago, and Los Angeles. By 1895, the drink was being sold in every US state and was exported to Cuba and Europe. In 1916, Asa Griggs Candler retired from day-to-day management of the company and handed over most of his stocks to his children. In addition to his involvement with Coca Cola, Candler engaged in other activities. He constructed Atlanta’s tallest building, the ‘Candler Building’, and founded ‘Central Bank and Trust Corp’. He also served as the Mayor of Atlanta in 1917 and played a significant role in rebuilding the city after a devastating fire.

Family & Personal Life

Asa Griggs Candler married Lucy Elizabeth Howard in 1878, and they had four sons and one daughter. After Lucy’s death in 1919, Candler married Mae Little Ragin in 1923. The marriage was not successful, and Candler filed for divorce in 1924 but dropped the suit later. He suffered a stroke in 1926 and passed away on March 12, 1929. Candler’s legacy lives on through Candler Park in Atlanta and various Candler Buildings located in different cities.

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