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Name That Brand!

American business has spawned some of the best-known brand names and products in the world. Do you know which brand names were created in your home state?

“Excellent Recipes for Baking Raised Breads,” 1916 Screen shot from the first of the “Polar Bear” commercials from 1993

“The Branding of America,” is a new activity from the Learning Page, the Library’s Web site designed especially for students and teachers but with information for everyone.

Coca-Cola is surely one of the most famous brands in the world. In 1886 Atlanta physician and chemist Dr. John Stith Pemberton developed a nerve tonic called "Pemberton's French Wine Cola." A prohibition law persuaded Pemberton to revise his original formula, substituting sugar for wine. This new Coca-Cola was advertised as an ideal temperance drink. The Coca-Cola Co. was incorporated 1888. In 1886, about nine drinks were sold each day. Today's daily sales number: 450 million.

(After reading about the invention of Coca-Cola, don’t forget to visit the American Memory presentation “Fifty Years of Coca-Cola Television Advertisements.” Here you can see a variety of television advertisements, never-broadcast outtakes and experimental footage reflecting the historical development of television advertising for a major commercial product. Featured advertisements include the 1971 “Hilltop” commercial with an international group of young people on an Italian hilltop singing "I'd Like to Buy the World a Coke"; the "Mean Joe Greene” commercial from 1979; the first "Polar Bear” commercial, from 1993; the "Snowflake” commercial from 1999; and "First Experience," an international commercial filmed in Morocco in 1999.)

In the “Did You Know?” section of “The Branding of America” learn how the Arm and Hammer design came into being or how the changing face of Aunt Jemima mirrors the country’s changing perceptions of African American women.

Other advertising materials are in “The Emergence of Advertising in America.” Here you can view more than 9,000 advertising images from the period 1850-1920. A “Special Presentation” documents highlights in the history of advertising. For example, in 1841 Volney B. Palmer opened the first American advertising agency, in Philadelphia.

A. Fleischmann Co., “Excellent Recipes for Baking Raised Breads,” 1916. American Memory collection: “Emergence of Advertising in America: 1850-1920.” From Rare Book, Manuscript and Special Collections Library, Duke University. Reproduction information: Not in Library of Congress collections. For more information, see

B. Ken Stewart/Creative Arts Agency, screen shot from the first of the “Polar Bear” commercials from 1993. Reproduction information: See “Copyright and Other Restrictions” regarding this material.

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