Since its inception, the Coca-Cola Company has figured out how to turn sugar water into a much-desired bottle of happiness. The soda company is the master of marketing without you really recognizing it. Remember back in the ’80s when they came out with their own clothing line and you just HAD to have a polo with the Coca-Cola logo splashed across it? You paid money to advertise a Fortune 500 company.
When you pop open a can or bottle of Coke or another Coca-Cola product, you’re not drinking sugar water, you’re drinking an experience and that’s exactly what the World of Coca-Cola in Atlanta, Ga., is. One, big happy experience celebrating one of the world’s most beloved soft drinks and without a doubt, one of the most dynamic brands in marketing history.
Business led me to Atlanta last week and making the most of every minute, I wandered over to the World of Coca-Cola to see what all the hub-bub was about. I ended up spending about two hours wandering through the exhibits, reminiscing while viewing commercials, memorabilia and historical events focused on Coke that happened during my childhood. I even touched an Olympic torch that once carried the flame. [Inserting random trivia about me: my middle sister was an Olympic flame torchbearer for one of the Olympic games. How cool is that?]
Vault of the Secret Formula exhibit was pretty nifty with its visitor interaction. I suppose the best way to describe it is visitors are digitized and placed into the exhibit with the task of looking for and finding clues to find the super-secret Coca-Cola formula. Bottle Works was fun watching glass bottles be filled with happiness, err, Coke, then shuttled through quality control and sent off to distribution, which happens to be in the hands of visitors.
I adored the Pop Culture Gallery with folk art, an American Idol seating area (complete with a Ryan Seacrest cutout), and walk down memory of favorite moments in Coca-Cola history, including the infamous blunder called New Coke. (What were they THINKING?) Visitors are also invited to write about their favorites moments with the soft drink.
If you embrace nostalgia then be sure to walk through the Milestones of Refreshment which is an introduction to Dr. John Pemberton and the company’s history. Of course, I was tickled seeing Coca-Cola Space Cans which were tested by astronauts in 1985 aboard the Space Shuttle Challenger, and soft-drink fountain equipment. Two fountains were launched in space in 1995 and 1996, aboard Space Shuttle Discovery and Space Shuttle Endeavour, respectively. During that Discovery mission, diet Coke was the first diet soft drink in space.
My visit timed perfectly with a the American Originals: Norman Rockwell & Coca-Cola exhibit. I always associate Norman Rockwell with family, home, the holidays and The Waltons (I have no idea why the Waltons, maybe John Boy reminded me of Rockwell’s paintings of boys) and didn’t realize his affiliation with the Coca-Cola Company. Between 1928 and 1935, the soda company commissioned Rockwell to paint six oil paintings that were used as marketing pieces. Three of the original six paintings are owned by the company and the whereabouts of the other three are unknown. For the first time these three works are on display for the world to enjoy. This Normal Rockwell exhibit opened May 24, 2013 and will be on display through May 2014.
If there was any doubt whether I’d get my $16 worth out of this visit, rest assured, I certainly did. The Taste It area is just what it sounds. You can taste Coke products from around the globe and there are more than 60 flavors to sample. I’m guessing I sampled at least 30. Although there are multiple fountains, I found some people just stood there sampling and blocking access to the fun flavors for my palate. I was patient and polite but firmly made my way to the dispensers. [Tip: If you sample the Coke products, be cool and reuse your cup!]
I won’t bore you with what I tasted but if you’ve been there, let’s just say, I was a fan of Beverly. According to Wikipedia I’m a rare breed. Apparently, of about 2,000 people who make their way through Taste It, only five like Beverly. If you’re not in the know, it’s a slightly bitter soda with an anise/black licorice taste. I didn’t find it overly bitter and found it refreshing. I even went back for seconds. Told ya I’m one of a kind!
Just when I thought I couldn’t drink any more, I sloshed toward the exit and rolled into the Coca-Cola Freestyle® area. One fountain offers more than 100 beverage choices in one machine. Crazy, right? I only had the gumption to mix one drink, diet Coke with Coca-Cola Raspberry and Coca-Cola Vanilla. Yum!
Upon leaving, and if you can stomach it, grab your free bottle of Coca-Cola which you probably saw bottled in the Bottle Works area
World of Coca-Cola was worth the visit. It’s near the Georgia Aquarium and CNN, in which I’ve visited both. I think you’d be pushing it if you attempted visiting all three attractions in one day. If you’re short on time, plan well to maximize your day.
Best commercial ever…
World of Coca-Cola
121 Baker Street NW
Atlanta, GA 30313 – 1807
Tel: 1-800-676-COKE (2653) or 404-676-5151.
Admission: Adults $16