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Coca-Cola’s History in Atlanta

A shot of a coca cola bottle

The world-famous soda Coca-Cola was invented right here in Atlanta. It’s hard not to notice the link between this mega-brand and our beloved city, there are plenty of nods to its heritage with the World of Coca-Cola Museum, the bottling plant, and numerous signs scattered around the city, If you want to know more about the story behind Coca-Cola, Atlanta is the place to come.

Humble Beginnings

During the craze of health tonics, Dr. John Stith Pemberton, a local Atlantan pharmacist, was experimenting when he combined coca leaves and kola nuts. In 1892, he finally perfected his recipe for the syrup and carried down a sample of his product to Jacob’s Pharmacy. At the pharmacy, the other employees sampled the drink and gave it high praise which led to it being added to the soda fountain range at 5 cents a glass. Carbonated water was then added to make the syrup more refreshing.

Dr. Pemberton did not work alone, his business partner and bookkeeper, Frank M. Robinson, played an important role in creating the image that is so widely recognized today. Robinson suggested the name Coca-Cola instead of the original “French Wine Cola” as it would work better in advertising. He was also the artist who penned the iconic script that is still used as the logo today.

As the drink gained in popularity in the early 1900s, more companies started producing imitations that became harder and harder to distinguish from the real thing. In 1912, to combat this growing piracy, the company launched a competition for glass companies to design a new and unique bottle. As a result, the iconic contour bottle was born, inspired by the image of a cacao pod. The green hue that was added to the glass to differentiate it further from competitors was named “Georgia Green” in honor of the drink’s home state.

Coca Cola’s Role in Atlanta’s History

Since the early 1900s, Coca-Cola has played an important role in investing in Atlanta’s infrastructure and working to drive the city’s economy. It hasn’t just lent its name to the signs that are scattered throughout Atlanta, it has been a longtime philanthropic donor to many institutions and cultural events.

For example, it was one of the principal donors to the ‘96 Olympic Games and despite the controversy of commercial advertising, the Games would likely not have broken even without Coca-Cola’s support. In 2002, the Coca-Cola Group announced the development of land now known as Pemberton Place (where the World of Coca-Cola now stands) in order to continue revitalizing Atlanta’s downtown area.

The Home of Coca-Cola’s Iconic Sights

For those who want to learn about the history of the drink and brand, the World of Coca-Cola is a great place to start. From advertising exhibitions to the vault that holds the secret formula and bottle works, this museum will give you a complete history of the product. You can also visit the site of the iconic Coca-Cola Spectacular sign in Margaret Mitchell Square. The sign was there from 1932 to 1981 and was a huge draw for tourists as well as being a popular new year countdown spot.

If you want to learn more about Coca-Cola’s role in Atlanta, join our Atlanta City tour where we stop by the Coca-Cola Headquarters. Or book one of our private tours and choose Coca-Cola as the topic. There is so much to learn about this iconic drink and no better place to do so than in Atlanta.

– your Roundabout Atlanta team

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