Your great grandparents may not have enjoyed a Coke, but they certainly had the opportunity. Coca Cola began appearing in advertising in the Idaho Statesman in 1896. The drink was invented in 1886 by pharmacist John Pemberton. The beverage’s inventor knew nothing about marketing, so didn’t do especially well with his drink. It was Asa Griggs Candler who took over the company and made it work, first advertising Coca Cola as a patent medicine that would get rid of fatigue and headaches.
And, yes, one early version of Coca Cola did contain a trace of cocaine, which was a common patent medicine ingredient. In 1907, the Idaho Pure Food Commission did an analysis of “the popular soda drink called Coca Cola.” A story in the Statesman said the commission had found no cocaine, but, “While this is not to be classed with as dangerous drug as cocaine, it is not one which can be recommended for constant us. A glass of Coca Cola, as ordinarily served at soda fountains, contains about one grain of caffeine.”
The Women’s Christian Temperance Union wasn’t convinced. A 1908 Idaho Statesman article noted that a WCTU meeting had been about the danger of drinking Coca Cola. “Mrs. McIntyre reading from various sources descriptive of this evil. These articles claim that in spite of the requirements of the new pure food law, this beverage still contains injurious quantities of cocaine.”
The WCTU had better luck, for a time, with prohibition of alcohol. Coca Cola went on to be a somewhat popular drink in Idaho and every other corner of the earth.