Drinking a bottled Coke not only brings back childhood memories, but also makes me think of places such as Rome, Georgia, and Paris, Tennessee.
It seemed that Rome, Ga. was on the bottom of every other Coke bottle at our house. If it wasn’t Rome, it was likely Macon or Columbus or Augusta.
My hometown of Aberdeen, Mississippi even came up on a few. Every Saturday when I walked from my house downtown to the movie theater I paused at the Coca-Cola bottling plant to watch those classic contour Coke bottles rolling along the conveyer belt.
Then, I didn’t know about the Biedenharn family that made Coke the worldwide sensation.
The Coke formula was first developed in Atlanta in 1866 but nearly 30 years later, Joseph Biedenharn took what was once only sold in soda foundations and began bottling it for the masses, first in the rural area around his native Vicksburg, Mississippi. He later set up a network of franchise bottlers that is still the model today.
Although Atlanta is Coca-Cola’s headquarters and home to the World of Coca-Cola complex, these smaller museums in Vicksburg and Monroe, Louisiana are worth visiting too:
Biedenharn Coca-Cola Museum, 1107 Washington Ave., Vicksburg MS. The exhibits aren’t extensive but it’s still worth a trip to see where Coca Cola bottling began in what was then the Biedenharn Candy Co. It’s in the middle of historic downtown Vicksburg with many interesting buildings within walking distance.
Biedenharn Museum & Gardens, Riverside & Forsythe, Monroe, LA. Joseph Biedenharn later moved to Monroe and the family’s home is preserved just as it was when Biedenharn’s daughter, Emy-Lou, an opera singer lived there.She died in 1984. I visited last month, and the tour began with a fascinating story about the development of the Coke bottle’s iconic shape and the Biedenharn family’s contribution. The gardens are beautiful, and there’s a Bible museum of Emy-Lou’s collections including a leaf from the Gutenberg Bible and other rare editions.
Two “Coke bottle” memories
*King Size: The top shelf of my grandfather’s refrigerator was full of king size Cokes. (In the days before Big Gulps and supersizing, king size meant 10 ounces). I would grab one, drink about three ounces and be full.
*Welcome Sounds: I loved hearing the screen door to our carport opening and listening for the sound of the Cokes clanking in the carton when my mother came home from the grocery store.