Monday, June 24, 2013

Atlanta Vacation Pt. 1: The WORLD of Coca Cola

Good morning!

Well, folks, we lived! We spent a whole weekend in Georgia on vacation and have lived to tell the tale! Let's start this travelogue in reverse order, at the world of Coca Cola. We visited Sunday mid-afternoon, and it was a fabulous, fun time for cuties. So lemme quit stallin' and tell you guys about it!

First of all, what does a gal have to do to get a drink around this place?

Pemberton Place is an area in central Atlanta that boasts a big open greenspace in addition to two huge tourist attractions, the Georgia Aquarium and the World of Coca-Cola. The landmark was named for the original inventor of  formula for Coca-Cola, Atlanta pharmacist John Pemberton. This statue, a likeness in bronze of the man himself with an open high top table in bronze for you to share a hypothetical cold one with him, stands in front of the WCC, and the first thing we did (obviously) was "get our picture took" with him!

This photo also demonstrates the first pair of cargo shorts poor Matthew has probably owned in his adult life. While he usually wears slim black trousers and some little tie-up black Oxfords on a daily basis, we made an emergency stop at the Hiram, GA Walmart to buy both cargo khakis and off-brand Columbia waterproof sandals so he wouldn't die of heat exhaustion, like some 19th century farmer, at Six Flags on Saturday. He liked the "frat bro" vibe of them so much (and the weather appropriateness of was hot some of this weekend!) that he continued to wear them on Sunday. How freakin' cute!

Upon entering the little "welcome to Coca-Cola!" room in the WCC, we were immediately surrounded by just a GLUT of vintage Coca-Cola ephemera. It looked like someone's awesome CC collection threw up in there, and was OVERWHELMING for the amount of international and domestic red-and-white advertising paraphernalia, from large signs to small circulars to maquettes of former brand mascots:

This is probably one of the only museums I've been to where the tour guides SPECIFICALLY encouraged you to take photo and video, so I was a terrible little shutterbug the entire time! Plus I wanted to be sure to have enough stuff to bring home and show my dad, who is a dyed-in-the-wool Coke brand ambassador in the classic sense, and is hoping to get to go to "the home of Coca-Cola" some day.

As I stopped at the end of the entrance ramp to listen to the opening spiel, I could not have been more delighted to see, OMFG, THIS 1930'S CLARK GABLE AND JOAN CRAWFORD advertising poster, in living life, right in front of me:

Did I get my picture in front of it? YOU KNOW I DID. I have an ad for Coca-Cola on the set of Dinner at Eight, with Jean Harlow and Lionel Barrymore and the like holding the iconic ice cold bottles in their famous little hands, in a frame on my bedroom wall, but I think I would actually DIE to have something like this in my collection. Out of that room full of stuff, this was definitely the highlight for me. And once again, this is THREE colas my girl JC has shilled for...her famous Pepsi-Cola support after marrying PC executive Al Steele, and this RC Cola campaign from the forties

Here's a snap for us waiting to go into "the Vault" exhibit:

The exhibition space on the first floor is broken up into three different spaces-- "The Vault", which focuses on the "secret" of the secret formula; "Milestones of  Refreshment", a display of the MANY historical artifacts from Coke's long advertising and production history; and "Bottle Works", a mock-up assembly line of the bottling process. Here's some stuff from "The Vault", which may have been the most expensive looking exhibit of the three:

The history of the formula and the lengths to which the company has gone to keep it secret is the theme that links display cases you see throughout this exhibit. Above, you see a lot of old-time medicine bottles and prescriptions to symbolize the beginnings of the formula in Pemberton's pharmacy. Pemberton sold the company to Asa Candler in 1888, who really started up the powerhouse marketing campaigns and blanket advertising that made Coke the household name it is today.

At different points in the exhibit, hidden loudspeakers whisper conspiratorial "Who's keeping the secret?" type statements and other hushed admonishments of the importance of keeping the recipe under wraps.  This wall displayed little factoids about the brand and some conspiracy theories behind who REALLY invented the million dollar formula:

There was some kind of "game" you could play by collecting all the clues and putting them together at the end of the trail, but the room was way too crowded with fellow tourists to really make an honest go of it. The die-hard gamer in Matthew was intrigued by the prospect, but happy to move along to the next room to make way for the next batch of onlookers. Here's us in this weird, motion capture portion of the interactive exhibit. I'm the gal behind the pixellated camera!

The Milestones in Refreshment space was much more my speed, with old, older, and OLDEST examples of CC advertising. Ah! Look at that clock! That kite! One thing that really struck me throughout the exhibits was that even if you prefer Pepsi, or even some other cola brand, it's a given fact that Coca-Cola is the "gold standard" of soda products. It's so ingrained in our collective national consciousness that Coke is #1 that I actually think a little poorly of restaurants (like Arby's in the past, and Taco Bell now) that don't carry their superior products. Like, "Can't you afford Coke? Even if I'm not drinking it, you should be offering it!" What a marvel of twentieth century marketing, right? 

A Cuban coke delivery car that should be parked in my driveway every night, and lovingly sang to sleep for how COMPLETELY awesome it is. That buttery pale yellow paint job!

Sometimes I see these Coke calendars on antique store runs, but never anywhere near my price range. And I'm talking since I was little I can remember Coke memorabilia being a top dollar collectible item. Secretly, I hope that the market slumps on these, the way they have with Barbie cases. Remember when we talked about this? Barbie cases from the sixties' and earlier used to be in the $40-$50 range every where you looked, and suddenly they're usually priced from $15-$20 at estate sales, AND still there on the second day! Who am I to question the power of Coke collectibles, but wouldn't it be nice for just one ERRANT piece to make its way into my parsimonious possession?

I didn't get a very good shot of this poster, but the turn of the century tableau below features a mysterious woman in a be-plumed picture hat enjoying a coke in the was so ominous and spooky, compared to the bright, happy tone of most of the red and white ads! The almost context-less, non punctuated "Delicious" at the bottom is downright sinister looking!

 Old vending machines, which are always amazing:

French advertisements (or possibly French Canadian advertisements)! Our greeter at the front room pronounced this sign "Byew-vez Coca Cola", which was just amazingly wrong. "BOO-vay Coca-Cola", my little heart cried out, the former French teacher I am. She was otherwise completely delightful, but wasn't it the nerd in me that wanted to correct her so bad I almost did!

Look at the dancing teens on that one Asian ad and the black-haired Rita Hayworth lookalike here. LOVE.

There was a 4-D video on the second level that we ditched due to a super crowded seating area, but you'd better believe we took advantage of the "Taste It!" exhibit, which included fountain drink style dispensers of SIXTY FOUR Coca-Cola products from around the world, available for you to taste at your leisure. And when they say around the world, they're not just talking North America!

The funniest part about this section of the tour was the number of children running around with sour faces yelling, "IT'S NASTY! IT'S SO NASTY!" And, open minded person that I am, I'm telling you, 60% of the sodas consumed in other parts of the world are SO GROSS. I overheard a fellow visitor remarking, on the subject of the Beverly (from Italy), that it tasted like "Drambuie and mouthwash". HE WAS COMPLETELY SPOT ON CORRECT. We only made it through about 30 shots-of-soda before we had to cleanse our palate with some Sprite Zero from the American portion.

As you leave the museum, you're allowed to take a free coke from this rotating assembly line dispenser! Matthew and I put ours in the fridge when we got home, so we can cheers to little Cokies sometime this week in celebration of the fabulous time we had at the WORLD OF COCA COLA!

So! Have you ever been to this tourist destination or another soda-themed museum? Do you have any neat Coke-related products in your collection? What did you get up to this weekend?

More news from our Atlanta trip tomorrow! I'll see you then. :)

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