The World of Coca-Cola (Atlanta, Georgia)

John Pemberton statue outside the World of Coca-Cola

Just a few blocks away from where John Pemberton created the original formula for Coca-Cola in Atlanta Georgia, the World of Coca-Cola is a popular tourist destination and museum dedicated to all things Coke.  Opened in its current location in 2007 at a whopping cost of $97 million, the 92,000 square foot museum is part of the larger Centennial Olympic Park that also houses the Georgia Aquarium and the Center for Civil & Human Rights.

One of the biggest attractions of the World of Coca-Cola is the ‘Taste of Coke’ tasting room.  It is here that you can taste different flavors and products from around the world produced by the Coca-Cola bottling company.  Some of them will have you questioning why you can’t find them locally while others will leave you looking for something to rinse the bitterness off your tongue.

The small bottling line where visitors can watch coke being made and get their free 8oz bottle is no longer a functioning bottling plant.  It has for a few years now been simply for show, but it does a convincing enough job that 99% of people will not be able to tell that it is not happening in real time.

The museum/attraction is often considered one of the most overrated attractions in Atlanta and many locals have not visited in years, but for the Coke fans from around the world and the true collectors of Coca-Cola memorabilia, it is a must see destination.  For others visiting Atlanta, it is a nice (though slightly expensive) roadside attraction, commercial marketing masterpiece, and all around decent way to spend an afternoon.

A Brief History of Coca-Cola

Coca-Cola was invented by pharmacist and Civil War veteran John ‘Doc’ Pemberton  in 1886.  Pemberton was somewhat unsuccessful in his pharmaceutical endeavors and moved to Atlanta with hopes of turning around his fortunes.  He was determined to find commercial success and with the temperance movement being strong in the South Eastern United States he decided to try his hand at the medicinal beverage industry.

Coca-Cola sign on the side of the Oakville Grocery
The Coca-Cola script is the world’s most famous logo.

Pemberton’s lack of marketing skills meant that he needed others to help with his coca leaf infused beverage so Frank Robinson, an inventor and salesman from the north joined forces to help move the product along.  Robinson was responsible for the name Coca-Cola where Coca came from the coca leaves used and Cola for the kola nuts, as well as the now famous script known as the world’s most famous logo.  Frank Robinson permanently settled in Atlanta in 1886 and the business called the Pemberton Chemical Company was developed.  The four members of the company were Robinson, Pemberton, David Doe (Robinson’s partner from Iowa) and Pemberton’s original partner, Ed Holland.

With all of the work the put into the company it was not immediately successful and did not sell well in its first few years.  To add insult to injury, Pemberton passed away in August of 1888 and did not have the opportunity to see the eventual success of his invention.

World of Coca-Cola Facts

  • The original World of Coca-Cola museum was opened in 1990 but the location proved too small for the amount of annual visitors.
  • More than a million visitors cross through the World of Coca-Cola each year.
  • The museum is located at Pemberton Place
  • The ‘Taste of Coke’ exhibit where flavors from around the world can be sampled features more than 60 varieties.