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The Story of Coca-Cola and Atlanta From Its Origins to Now

December 8, 2022 By CityPASS

Easily one of the most recognizable brands in the world, The Coca-Cola Company is ranked No. 93 on the Fortune 500 list and is one of the largest corporations in the U.S. The Coca-Cola family sells several beverages in more than 200 countries. This iconic brand known around the world today started as just a one-man operation in Atlanta back in 1886.

When you visit Georgia’s state capital, you’ll find that a visit to World of Coca-Cola is a way to immerse yourself in the company’s origins and learn more about the world’s most popular fizzy beverage. World of Coca-Cola is a must for anyone who loves history, museums with a twist, or who can’t get enough of this bubbly delight!

The Connection Between the Coca-Cola Company and Atlanta

Coca-Cola is an integral part of Atlanta’s history. Since its creation in the 19th century, the company’s headquarters have remained in the state capitol, currently employing nearly 5,000 people. The company is a huge part of the city’s identity, so the World of Coca-Cola in Atlanta was created to tell its story from the very beginning through today.

John S. Pemberton and the "Temperance Drink"

In 1885, a curious pharmacist named John S. Pemberton began playing around with ingredients to create his version of coca wine, a popular drink in France and Corsica at the time. However, his recipe included a secret ingredient: the African kola nut, a source of caffeine.

In 1986, prohibition legislation was passed in Atlanta and the surrounding Fulton County, so Pemberton took advantage of this situation and developed a non-alcoholic version of his drink. He replaced the wine with syrup and began serving this unique Atlanta drink as "Coca-Cola: The Temperance Drink" in pharmacies around town. With no alcohol to consume, thirsty patrons couldn’t get enough, and Coca-Cola became an instant success.

Growth, Success, and Bottle Origins

Pemberton originally touted Coca-Cola Classic as a cure-all for common problems due to two ingredients: the caffeine from the kola nut and the cocaine from the coca leaf. Even without this endorsement, Coca-Cola became wildly successful at the soda fountains and its popularity grew. Pemberton’s bookkeeper, Frank Robinson, actually chose the name Coca-Cola and wrote out the name in the flowing script that is still on Coca-Cola products today.

Pemberton sold off pieces of the Coca-Cola company over his lifetime, and, right before he died in 1888, he sold the last share to another pharmacist in Atlanta named Dr. Asa G. Candler. Candler saw Coca-Cola’s potential and soon acquired complete control of the company.

By 1894, the Coca-Cola bottling industry had begun. The first Coca-Cola bottles were Hutchinson bottles, which are quite different from the Coca-Cola bottles that we know today. The first bottling was in Vicksburg, Mississippi, but a few years later the bottling process was moved to Chattanooga, Tennessee, under Candler’s direction.

Formula Changes and Skillful Advertising

Since Coca-Cola was more popular as a drink than a tonic or medicine, cocaine was removed from the formula by 1903. As more and more imitation drinks came to the market, Coca-Cola patented its logo and began to use it in advertising. Soon, the iconic bottle that we know today was developed as part of the branding strategy. The bottles were made in a distinct color that was coined “Georgia Green” to set it apart from all the rest.

How To Encounter the History of Coca-Cola and Atlanta

There are tons of Coca-Cola experiences for visitors to dive into in Atlanta. Here are some spots that you can’t miss.

Visit the World of Coca-Cola for a One-of-a-Kind Brand Experience

Your first stop should definitely be World of Coca-Cola. The original museum was located in downtown Atlanta, but with Coca-Cola’s expansion, the museum moved to a location in Atlanta that’s just a few blocks from where Pemberton created the original Coca-Cola.

The experience gives visitors an inside look into the bottling process and goes deep into the history of this beloved beverage. The Coca-Cola gallery showcases historical artifacts and memorabilia from the company’s history, highlighting Coca-Cola’s many milestones.

If you want to save some money on your ticket, the Atlanta CityPASS® bundle gets you into the World of Coca-Cola, along with four other top attractions in the city.

Go to Edgewood Avenue for the Dixie Coca-Cola Bottling Company Plant

On the corner of Edgewood Avenue and Courtland Street, you’ll find a historic Victorian building that was the first Coca-Cola bottling factory in Georgia. The Dixie Coca-Cola building is designated as a National Historic Landmark due to its importance to Georgia and the country as a whole.

It was designed to combine work and residence, so a Coca-Cola store was on the ground level with living quarters on the top floor. The building’s facade and floor plan have changed over the years, but visiting this landmark can transport you back to the company’s origins and history.

After 1901, several other businesses were run out of the Dixie Coca-Cola building. However, in 1966 the Atlanta Baptist Association purchased the building and it became a Baptist student center for students attending Georgia State University.

See the Original Location of Jacob's Pharmacy at Georgia State University

Jacob’s Pharmacy was the first place to serve Coca-Cola in 1886. The owner, Dr. Joseph Jacobs, sold his interest in Coca-Cola to Dr. Candler but was the most successful pharmacy owner of his time. He eventually owned eight drug stores where he sold glasses of Coca-Cola to the public.

The pharmacy no longer exists, but a historical marker was installed in 2016 to commemorate the spot. The marker informs visitors about the significance of the spot and tells the story of Coca-Cola in Atlanta.

Plan Your Ultimate Visit to The World Of Coca-Cola in Atlanta

World of Coca-Cola is just one of the many top attractions that you can visit in Atlanta. The best way to experience everything there is to do is by purchasing Atlanta CityPASS® tickets, which get you entry into five different attractions. This combined ticket offers you savings of up to at Atlanta’s top attractions, including World of Coca-Cola, Zoo Atlanta, Georgia Aquarium, and more. Get the hottest ticket in town and snag your CityPASS® tickets today!

Header image Courtesy World of Coca-Cola

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