A pile of Coca-Cola bottle caps.

When You Drink Coca-Cola, Think Of Its Southern Roots

Coca-Cola is one of the most well-known brands in the world, but most people aren’t aware the brand has Southern roots.

John S. Pemberton created Coca-Cola on May 8, 1886 in Atlanta. According to the Coca-Cola Journey website, Dr. Pemberton tried it out on customers at the local pharmacy where it proved so popular, it was sold for 5 cents a glass.

After Pemberton died, his business was taken over by Atlanta’s Asa G. Candler, who expanded Coca-Cola.

According to the World of Coca-Cola website, “In 1894, impressed by the growing demand for Coca-Cola and the desire to make the beverage portable, Joseph Biedenharn installed bottling machinery in the rear of his Mississippi soda fountain, becoming the first to put Coca-Cola in bottles.

Large scale bottling was made possible just five years later, when in 1899, three enterprising businessmen in Chattanooga secured exclusive rights to bottle and sell Coca Cola.”

Coca-Cola is around today because of these Southern men. There are many Coca-Cola attractions and exhibits in the South. The World of Coca-Cola museum is located in Atlanta and features a vault where the secret formula of Coca-Cola is held.

According to the museum’s website, “Regarded as the most closely guarded and best-kept secret, the secret formula for Coca-Cola represents over 125 years of history, special moments, memories and the timeless appeal associated with Coca-Cola.”

The Pemberton Cottage sign.
The Pemberton Cottage

There is also a Coca-Cola tasting exhibit called Taste It! that offers more than 100 flavors of Coca-Cola from around the world. Another popular museum exhibit is the 4-D theater where visitors can watch an interactive video about the history of Coca-Cola.

Living in Georgia, I have seen many people come to learn more about Coca-Cola. I lived in Atlanta for a few years, and there is never a dull moment at this museum. It was one of the most fascinating places I have ever been.

Another Southern attraction in Columbus, Georgia is the Pemberton House, where John S. Pemberton lived with his wife for a short period. According to the Pemberton museum’s website, as a memorial to Dr. Pemberton, the Coca-Cola Company gave the house to the Historic Columbus, Georgia Foundation in 1969.

A small white house.
The Pemberton Cottage

The landmark lures many to the small town. I have lived in Columbus for many years, and it has always been a source of pride for our town. There are always people looking and walking around the Pemberton House. It’s small, but has many features.

According to the Pemberton museum website, the Pemberton House features an apothecary housed in an original outbuilding formerly used as the kitchen. It has been carefully furnished to approximate the surroundings in which Dr. Pemberton worked when he was a Columbus, Georgia pharmacist.

“Coca-Cola Company mementos, pharmaceutical items, a soda fountain, and advertisements of Dr. Pemberton’s are some of the items on display,” the museum website reads.

This house and the Pemberton name are things Columbus, Georgia holds dear. The history of Coca-Cola helped shape the town. Many things are named after and sponsored by Coca-Cola in Columbus.

Across the street from the Pemberton House, is a museum called the Coca-Cola Space Science Center sponsored by Coca-Cola that teaches children all about space and science. It also brings many people into Columbus, Georgia.

Another Southern attraction featuring Coca-Cola is in Corinth, Mississippi. The Corinth Coca-Cola Museum features more than 100 years of Corinth Coca-Cola history.

According to the museum’s website, “The museum features over 1,000 pieces of authentic Coca-Cola memorabilia, plus a large collection of old-fashioned drink machines from years gone by. If you are a fan of Coca-Cola memorabilia, or the old-fashioned Soda Fountain era, you will enjoy this exhibit.”


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