This Week in History

I’d Like to Buy the World a Coke

The year is 1886, and a pharmacist in Atlanta, Georgia decided March 29th would be a good day to make history. The pharmacist’s name was John Pemberton, and he made history by brewing the first batch of that bubbly beverage: Coca-Cola.

Apparently, Pemberton (who was wounded in the Civil War) had a taste for morphine, and his addiction led him to experiment with coca. Eventually he was marketing coca-infused wine for ladies with “nervous dispositions.” Since, Pemberton wasn’t the only addict floating around the Atlanta area, the government in Fulton County decided to enact prohibition laws to nip that problem in the bud. Ever the enterprising fellow, John went about adapting his coca beverage into a non-alcoholic drink, and Coca-Cola was the result.

Photo by KB35 via Flickr.

Now, the easiest way to celebrate Coke’s birthday is to scoot on over to the vending machine and have one for yourself. But, I’m not much of a soda pop drinker, so I thought I would offer up some museum offerings for carbonated beverage enthusiasts.

  • The World of Coca-Cola is one of Atlanta’s top tourist attractions, and it’s filled to the brim with Coke memorabilia, a loveable polar bear mascot, a bar where you can sample Coca-Cola products, and an opportunity to experience the bottling process.
  • Elizabethtown, Kentucky is home to the Schmidt Museum of Coca-Cola Memorabilia. The real selling point is the on-site soda fountain.
  • Celebrate another Coke landmark in Vicksburg at the Biedenharn Coca-Cola Museum, which marks the site where Pemberton’s invention was first bottled.
  • The Soda Museum (formerly known as Butch’s Coca-Cola Museum) in Marietta, Ohio has a Coke memorabilia collection dating back to the 1920s.
  • Finally, although not specifically dedicated to Coca-Cola, the Museum of Beverage Containers and Advertising in Millersville, Tennessee is quite the destination. They boast to having the world’s largest collection of beer and soda cans.

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