为钱所困的彭伯顿看到了商机，认为仿制这款热门饮料一定是个不错的生意。而他真就这么做了，1885年，他开始售卖自己的饮料品牌：法国古柯葡萄酒（French Wine of Coca）。但是问题是，当时的清教徒呼吁禁酒，导致亚特兰大全城推行禁酒令，于是彭伯顿不得不将葡萄酒换成汽水。于是在1886年，就有了这种无酒精饮料可口可乐。
然而，可口可乐的外包战略并没有就此止步。在供应方面，可口可乐还尽量避免持有工厂和厂房。比如，该公司既没有在加勒比海拥有糖种植园，或在中西部持有高果糖玉米糖浆的湿磨厂，也没有在东南部持有脱咖啡因的设施。相反，公司依赖大量独立的企业，如孟山都化学公司（Monsanto Chemical Company）、嘉吉公司（Cargill）、好时公司（Hershey Chocolate Company）等等，来对成品饮料中的关键成分进行采掘、加工和提炼。总之，可口可乐不喜欢垂直的业务整合，而是作为某种商品经纪人，通过在独立经营的生产商和分销商之间传输材料来赚钱。
From the very beginning, Coca-Cola had a drug problem.
The brand’s founder, Atlanta pharmacist John Stith Pemberton, was addicted to morphine, a narcotic many suspected Pemberton began using after suffering a series of debilitating wounds while defending the city of Columbus, Georgia, during the Civil War. By the 1880s, Pemberton was not well, and he was also hurting financially. In 1872, Pemberton filed for bankruptcy and a few years later watched helplessly when two fires ravaged his Atlanta business. In 1886, he had finally clawed his way out of debt but was still strapped for cash.
That was the year Pemberton introduced Atlanta to Coca-Cola. Pemberton patterned his drink after a French patent medicine called Vin Mariani, a Bordeaux wine mixed with coca leaves, which had become quite popular in international markets by the end of the 1870s, and why not? Here was a drink that was essentially cocaine-laced wine, inducing quite a buzz for the habitual consumer. All sorts of luminaries testified to its restorative properties, including U.S. President Ulysses S. Grant and Pope Leo XIII.
Cash-poor Pemberton believed it made smart business sense to create a knockoff of this popular beverage, which is exactly what he did, selling his own French Wine of Coca in 1885. The problem was, Protestant clamoring for prohibition led to citywide restrictions on alcohol consumption in Atlanta, forcing Pemberton to replace the wine with carbonated water. Thus, Coca-Cola became a kind of temperance drink in 1886.
The decision to switch to water was more than just an expedient solution to a prohibition problem: it allowed Pemberton to outsource roughly 80% of his product’s volume onto others. That’s because it was soda fountain operators who mixed the water—at least five ounces per one ounce of syrup—into Pemberton’s finished beverages. All Pemberton sold was a dark, syrupy concentrate, which allowed him to save enormous amounts of money on transportation costs. Of course, the soda fountain water ultimately came from the municipal tap.
This model continued under Pemberton’s successor, Atlanta pharmacist Asa Candler, who signed the first bottling franchise contracts for Coca-Cola in 1899. Initially hesitant to approve this distribution method—considering the rudimentary nature of most bottling operations at the time—Candler came to see that bottling enabled Coke to reach rural markets far removed from city centers. What made the deal even sweeter was the fact that independent businessmen in small towns covered the tab for this expansion. Bottlers fronted the capital to buy the machinery, packaging, and municipal water, as well as the trucks and tires that spread Coke’s syrup through the nation’s commercial arteries.
But Coke’s outsourcing strategy didn’t stop there. On the supply side, Coke also shunned ownership of factories and plants. The company did not own sugar plantations in the Caribbean, high-fructose corn syrup wet mills in the Midwest, or decaffeination facilities in the Southeast. Rather, the company relied on a host of independent businesses—the Monsanto Chemical Company, Cargill, Hershey Chocolate Company, among many others—to mine, process, and refine the critical ingredients that went into its finished beverages. In short, Coke was averse to vertical business integration, and instead acted as a kind of commodity broker, making money by transferring materials from independently owned producers and distributors.