The World of Coca-Cola is located in the middle of downtown Atlanta, within walking distance of CNN, Aquarium, Underground Atlanta and the upcoming Civil Rights Center. Devised to re-sell you on perhaps the best known brand in the world – this is the stuff of marketers’ dreams.
As a rule I don’t consume soda. There are too many stories real or not about how teeth dissolve in pop in a matter of days. But a visit from a long lost cousin with her 4 1/2 year old son in tow, meant a trip to one of Atlanta’s main tourist draws was in order. The initial room features bottles which were specially created for the ’96 Atlanta Olympics as homages to different countries. Videos played showing faces of people around the world and the names of Coke’s brands.
After a few minutes we entered a room filled floor to ceiling with memorabilia. An enthusiastic tour guide went around the room asking where folks were from. Answers included Germany, Nigeria, Lebanon, Iran, and nearby states like Tennessee. Coca-Cola clearly transcends borders. Some of the memorabilia dated back to Coke’s inception in the 1880s.
After the initial discussion of coke’s past we moved to a small theater showing a film called Happiness. It explains that the basis for happiness is activity. Being a sugary beverage, it makes sense that Coke would want to encourage exercise. The 7 minute film was bad. Really bad. If they’d used more recognizable icons like the polar bear instead of strange jazz-influenced anthropomorphic creatures, than it would’ve worked far better.
I enjoyed viewing the extensive memorabilia collection including signs from Turkey and Vietnam. The second most enjoyable aspect of the World of Coca-Cola is its history. In 1885 Civil War Veteran John Pemberton was wounded in battle and became addicted to morphine. A chemist by trade, he looked for alternatives to combat painkiller addiction. His first invention was called French Wine Coca. But due to temperance a non-alcoholic version because necessary in 1886, and thus, Coca Cola was born. As was typical of the time, the brand claimed the beverage kept you young, relieved headaches, and was a valuable brain tonic.
The highlight of course, is the tasting room featuring 60+ sodas. I skipped North America since all of that stuff was familiar. Africa had some of the best stuff including Bibo Lemon and Bibo Strawberry Mango. Also Italy’s soda. It’s a family friendly destination though if you’re with kids, they will end up very hyper at the end. My 4.5 year old 2nd cousin was bouncing off the ceiling the time we left. As a bonus, as you exit, you get a free mini bottle of coke stamped with the date of your visit.