In 1901, the Cole-Hampton-Hatcher Grocery Store was established in Columbus, Georgia. In 1903, the Hatcher family took sole ownership and the name was changed to the Hatcher Grocery Store. The grocery store was located at what was 22 West 10th Street. Today's address (after house number changes) is 15 West 10th Street. At that same time, the popularity of bottled soft drinks rose rapidly, and grocery store owners wished to maximize their profit. As a grocery wholesaler, Claud A. Hatcher purchased a large volume of Coca-Cola syrup from the local company salesman, Columbus Roberts. Hatcher felt that Hatcher Grocery Co. deserved a special reduced price for the syrup since it purchased such large volumes. Roberts would not budge on the cost, and a bitter conflict between the two erupted. Hatcher told Roberts he would win the battle by never purchasing any more Coca-Cola, and Hatcher determined to develop his own soft drink formula. He started developing products in the basement of the store with a recipe for ginger ale.
The first product in the Royal Crown line was Royal Crown Ginger Ale in 1905, followed by Royal Crown Strawberry, and Royal Crown Root Beer. The company was renamed Chero-Cola in 1910, and in 1925 renamed Nehi Corporation after its colored and flavored drinks. In 1934, Chero-Cola was reformulated by Rufus Kamm, a chemist, and re-released as Royal Crown Cola.
In the 1950s, Royal Crown Cola and moon pies were a popular "working man's lunch" in the American South. In 1954, Royal Crown was the first company to sell soft drinks in a can, and later the first company to sell a soft drink in an aluminum can.
In 1958, the company introduced the first diet cola, Diet Rite, and in 1980, a caffeine-free cola, RC 100. In the mid-1990s, RC released Royal Crown Draft Cola, billed as a "premium" cola using pure cane sugar as a sweetener, rather than high fructose corn syrup. Offered only in 12-ounce bottles, sales were disappointing, due largely to the inability of the RC bottling network to get distribution for the product in single-drink channels, and it was quickly discontinued with the exceptions of Australia, New Zealand and France. It is now available only in New Zealand, parts of Australia, Thailand and Tajikistan. The company also released Cherry RC, a cherry-flavored version of the RC soft drink, to compete with Cherry Coke and Pepsi Wild Cherry.
In October 2000, Royal Crown was acquired by Cadbury (then Cadbury Schweppes) through its acquisition of Snapple. Royal Crown operations were subsequently folded into Dr Pepper/Seven Up, a former subsidiary of Cadbury. In 2001, all international RC-branded businesses were sold to Cott Beverages of Mississauga, Ontario, Canada, and are operated as Royal Crown Cola International, which handles RC Cola products outside the United States. In the US, distribution is handled by Dr Pepper Snapple Group.
RC Cola was introduced to Latvia in June 2010, and the United Kingdom in May 2011, and sold at Asda supermarkets and other retailers. It is bottled in the country by Cott Beverages. It is available in Estonia where it is distributed by A. Le Coq. In Australia, it is marketed by Australian Pure Fruits.
RC Cola is bottled in Cyprus by Kean Soft Drinks Limited, and in the Philippines by ARC Bottlers. Jaz Cola, along with RC Cola was sold by Cosmos Bottling in 1996 until 2001 when San Miguel Corporation acquired Cosmos and sold its brands to the Coca-Cola Bottlers Philippines, Inc., but it terminated the license to produce RC Cola, along with Sunkist and Jolt Cola. However, some of the former Cosmos top brass, in partnership with the Zest-O chairman, reintroduced RC Cola and gained ownership from RC Cola International as Asiawide Refreshments Corporation. Today, RC Cola is the third top-selling cola brand in the Philippines, and is the second largest cola brand in Israel, after Coca-Cola, but ahead of Pepsi.