Welcome to our travel blog. We are Tabitha and Nic. In 2011 we 'retired' in our early 40s and set off to travel the world. We spent our first year in South America and have been lucky enough to make two trips to Antarctica.

Our blog is a record of our travels, thoughts and experiences. It is not a guide book, but we do include some tips and information, so we hope that you may find it useful if you are planning to visit somewhere we have been. Or you may just find it interesting as a bit of armchair travel.

Friday, April 5, 2013

The home of Coca-Cola

As well as the more serious things to see, Atlanta is also the birthplace of The Real Thing, so it didn't seem right to be there without visiting the World of Coca-Cola.

Pharmacist John Pemberton invented the Coca-Cola syrup back in 1886, selling it in the nearby Jacobs Pharmacy, mixed with carbonated water, for five cents a glass.  The name was the work of his partner Frank Robinson.  John didn't keep the business that long though, and by 1891 it primarily was in the hands of businessman Asa Candler.

Candler made Coca-Cola a hit by giving branded goods to the pharmacists that carried his soda fountains, and by giving out free tasting coupons. By 1895, the drink was selling so well, he had syrup manufacturing plants in Dallas, Los Angeles and Chicago.

But while he may have been good at selling the drink, he wasn't too clever when it came to packaging it.  Someone else suggested putting it in bottles, but he ignored the idea, and in 1899 he sold the rights to bottle and sell Coca-Cola to  some lawyers from Chatanooga for just one dollar.

Now more easily available in its bottles, Coca-Cola was doing well in the States, but when Robert Woodruff took the helm in 1923, he took it global.  He linked the brand with the Olympic Games, starting a tradition that continues today, and when the USA entered World War II, he declared that every man in uniform gets a bottle of Coca-Cola for five cents, no matter where he is or how much it costs to send it there.  I'm not sure how often by we're supposed to get that Coca-Cola, or whether they all did, but it was a good bit of marketing.
By the 1960's there were bottling plants in many different countries.  And by this time it wasn't just Coca-Cola.  In the 1950s they introduced Fanta and then in the 1960s, Sprite was the first of a few new drinks to come in.

In the 1980s there were two more changes; the first, Diet Coke, proved almost as popular as Coca-Cola itself, but the other, New Coke, was not so well received.  People didn't like this new improved taste and they got their way - it reverted to the classic recipe after just a couple of months.
In time, bottling plants popped up across the globe, and more drinks were introduced.  They now have over 500 brands of drink being sold around the world, including iced teas and even a soup in Japan.  And that number doesn't take into account diet variations and the different flavours available within each brand.

In the World of Coca-Cola, there is a Taste it room, where you can taste all of the brands grouped by the continent they are sold in.  We tried a tiny bit of them all.  Most were OK, some weren't OK, and some were good, but there was one that was really horrible.

I won't tell you what it was called, as I don't want to spoil the surprise in case you go, but I will say it was from Italy.  After disliking it so much ourselves, we stood and watched others try it and almost everyone had the same reaction.

There was also an area where you can try the multitude of variations of the big Coca-Cola brands, Coke, Fanta and Sprite.  These include not only things like the cherry and vanilla flavours that we are familiar with, but also raspberry, orange and many other options.  Personally, I still like plain and simple Coke.

But it isn't all just about trying the drinks here.  There is a lot of memorabilia and old merchandising on display, you can have your photo taken with the Coke polar bear, and you can see the bottling process at work.  They also let you in to see the very secure vault where the secret recipe for coke is safely locked away.

This is never going to be the most intellectual of museums, or the most varied, but it was all a bit of fun, and the tasting of the different drinks sold on the different continents was interesting.  And I rather liked the huge decorated coke bottles that are dotted around the place.

You can certainly drink your fill of Coke and other products while you are there if you wish, and at the end you get a little bottle of Coca-Cola to take away too.

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