Quote for Today: The only way that I could figure they could improve upon Coca-Cola, one of life’s most delightful elixirs, which studies prove will heal the sick and occasionally raise the dead, is to put rum or bourbon in it. LEWIS GRIZZARD, New York Times, Apr. 26, 1985
Today in 1894, Coca Cola was first bottled by Joseph A. Biedenham of Vicksburg, Mississippi. Before that it was only mixed to order at the soda fountain. Coca Cola began in 1886 when Atlanta pharmacist, Dr. John S. Pemberton, created a flavored syrup which he combined with carbonated water to the delight of his customers. Dr. Pemberton’s bookkeeper, Frank Robinson, is credited with coining the name Coca Cola and its’ distinct script that is still used today.
Sadly, Dr. Pemberton died just two years after creating the now world’s best selling sparkling beverage. Before his death, Dr. Pemberton sold portions of his business to various parties with the majority going to Atlanta businessman Asa G. Candler. Mr. Candler expanded the business to pharmacies outside of Atlanta.
Seeing great potential in Coca Cola, Joseph Beidenham installed bottling machinery in his Mississippi store becoming the first to bottle Coca Cola in 1894. Just five years later, three gentlemen from Chattanooga,Tennessee secured exclusive rights to bottle and sell Coca Cola from Mr. Candler for the astronomical price of one dollar.
From these humble beginnings, where Coca Cola sold for five cents a glass averaging nine sales a day to current daily sales of about $1.6 Billion, Coca Cola has grown to become the most recognized product in the world. Over the years it has become a pop culture icon. Advertising through print and media, Coca Cola has produced a nostalgic history with lots of memorabilia. A wonderful way to see the rise of Coca Cola is to visit the “World of Coca Cola” in Atlanta, Georgia.
The original museum was located in the heart of downtown Atlanta at 55 Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive. Opened in 1991, it remained in this location for sixteen years. The World of Coca Cola moved to its current location at Pemberton Place located on Baker’s Street across from Centennial Olympic Park on May 24, 2007.
At the new World of Coca Cola, after going through an airport style security check, you begin your visit in the “Lobby.” The Lobby features large Coca Cola bottles made from different materials from around the world. While listening to a medley of Coca Cola jingles from the past sixty years, you funnel through to the “Coca Cola loft.” The Loft contains a collection of advertising artifacts dating back to 1896. This leads you to the “Happiness Theater” and a documentary featuring Coca Cola’s current advertising campaign to its captive audience. Following the film the screen rolls up revealing a walkway to the “Hub.”
Once at the “Hub” guests may visit the various attractions in whatever order they choose. The kids may want to pose for a picture with a Coca Cola polar bear or participate in the interactive exhibit “Vault of the Secret Formula” about the mystique of Mr. Pemberton’s recipe.
As you walk through a sea of memorabilia, you come across an actual bottling plant where guests may view commemorative bottles being prepared for sale. Next door, the Pop Culture Gallery is a showcase of Coca Cola’s influence on society. In this section, trinkets, memorabilia, and collectible items are on display. Works by artists such as Andy Warhol, Norman Rockwell, Howard Finster, and Steve Purley are also on display. In addition, several paintings of Santa Claus by Haddon Sundblom which have been used in the Company’s winter advertising since the 1930’s can be found.
The next things you encounter are television ads from the past, animated Coca Cola ads and recent Coca Cola ads from around the world. Finally, you arrive at the Coca Cola free style self-serve machine. Here guests may sample more than one hundred carbonated and non-carbonated beverages produced by Coca Cola.
If you have never been to the world of Coca Cola, your first visit will definitely hit you with a sensory overload of all things Coca Cola during the past 126 years. If you decided to bring them, the kids will also have a great time at all the visual and interactive exhibits. Did I happen to mention the polar bear?
Once outside the exhibit you are immediately confronted with the Georgia Aquarium. This is the largest aquarium in the world. Once inside, you have five themed sections of sea creatures that you may go through at your leisure. The aquarium has an exciting dolphin show, large pools where you may pet “Rays” and believe it or not “Shark’s” as they swim by. There is also a giant display featuring beautiful white Beluga Whales. Everything from giant whale sharks to equally vicious piranha may be seen at the Georgia Aquarium.
My favorite creatures were the Asian Otters that I happen to stumble upon at feeding time. Trust me on this. Watching these very social creatures hunt and gather large clams while trying to horde and steal them from each other in a playful, yet definitely survival of the fittest manner is very entertaining.
After touring these two – one of a kind exhibits, I guarantee you will be ready for some grub. Luckily in this area of town you have a multitude of choices. If you have never been to Atlanta, these are my close by recommendations.
1) The Varsity (1.2 mi), 61 North Avenue,Atlanta,GA. This Atlanta institution is the largest fast food restaurant that I know of. Since 1928, The Varsity has been serving great chili dogs, chili cheese burgers, onion rings, and the original F.O. (Frosted Orange).
2) Park Tavern (1.8 mi) Situated on the Southeast corner of Piedmont Park, the Tavern is actually the Park’s former golf clubhouse. Inside this beautiful two story building, you have a stunning view of the Park’s landscape. The menu goes from a full Sushi Bar to Hamburgers and the beer and wine list is impressive.
3) Gladys Knight’s Chicken & Waffles (0.6 mi)529 Peachtree Street, Atlanta,GA. Born in the tradition of 1930’s Harlem, New York, chicken and waffles were what you ordered when not sure of what to eat. This is definitely the case at Gladys’ Place. The mouth-watering soul/home style/country or whatever you want to call it menu sounds so good just one choice is hard to make.
Coca Cola may also be found in many recipes from BBQ sauces and marinades to the recipe below.
Coca Cola Pork Loin
3 lb Pork Loin
2 tsps Chili Powder
2 cloves Garlic
1 tsp Dried Oregano
1 can Coca Cola (12 oz)
3 tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
Salt, Pepper, and your favorite seasoning to taste
Crush and finely mince the garlic, place into a bowl with chili powder and oregano, mix well. Add the Coca Cola, and whisk well. Season the pork loin with salt and pepper and any other seasoning that you like. Sear the pork loin until it is golden brown on all sides. Preheat oven – 350 degrees. Place the pork loin on a rack inside a roasting pan. Cover it with the Coca Cola mix. Bake uncovered 2 ½ hours – Serve with your favorite rice or other side dish.