Anyone for a Coksi-Pepsi?

My grandmother was born in 1872. She was 14 years old when Coca-Cola first was introduced in 1886 and 21 when “Brad’s Drink” (the forerunner of Pepsi) hit the market in 1893.
I have no idea when she first tasted either of the new drinks. But she quickly developed a lifetime taste for them.
I know because, as a girl and young teenager, when we went shopping with Grandma in our closest city (Watertown), she often would say, “I need a Coksi-Pepsi.”
And everyone was delighted because we all needed one! But only Grandma could afford it.
Grandma, widowed at a young age, was not a wealthy person. Although she had a very nice house in the village of Croghan, she was extremely frugal. But when it came to Coksies and Pepsies, she was extravagant.
Grandma also had a humorous streak and a twinkle in her eye–thus the “Coksi-Pepsi” line. She didn’t care which one it was as long as it was a cola.
Of course, I have no idea how much Grandma paid for each drink at the time. But I do know how much a glass of Coca-Cola cost in 1886–a whopping five cents!
I say a whopping five cents because that also was the price of a can of coffee. A loaf of bread cost only two cents. The cost of a rake was 25 cents and a broom was 35 cents.
But, even at that, Coca-Cola was a bargain.
In the mid-1880s, soda fountains had become very popular because of the belief that carbonated water was healthy. And most drinks were sold for seven or eight cents. So, at a time when a penny really mattered, Coca-Cola’s “affordable option” was a winner.
Pharmacist John Pemberton originally sold his invention as a French Wine Coca nerve tonic. But after prohibition legislation in 1886, “Doc” Pemberton removed the alcohol and advertised his new drink as a “valuable brain tonic.”
There probably was some truth in his advertising because the original formula for Coca-Cola included caffeine and cocaine.
This new drink not only was delicious, but promised to cure headaches, relieve fatigue, and calm nerves.
Then in 1898, the U.S. Congress passed a tax on all medicines to help finance the Spanish-American War. And suddenly, the company wanted to sell Coca-Cola only as a beverage.
After a court battle, that was accomplished.
Pepsi, which had different ingredients and always had been marketed as a “refreshing drink that aids with digestion,” had no such problem.
Thus, the two colas emerged that would be sold around the world and dominate the beverage industry.
Personally, it’s been such a long time since I’ve had a Coksi-Pepsi that I’m not even sure I remember how it tastes. And I have to say that I have no hankering to find out.
On the other hand, if you have a hankering, go ahead and enjoy your favorite cola drink to kick off the summer.
Just remember, it probably isn’t too smart for health or wealth to join the billions of people globally that enjoy Coksi-Pepsi every day!
Marie Snider is an award-winning health writer and syndicated columnist. Write her at