History

April 14, 2014

MagiCan

We recently got an interesting research request about a past promotion that featured Coke cans with money inside of them.  MagiCan was part of the “Magical Summer” promotion from the summer of 1990.  At the time it was the largest marketing and promotional campaign ever for Coca-Cola classic.  Nearly three quarters of a million MagiCans containing millions of dollars in cash and prizes were to be randomly distributed nationwide.  Although it looked like a regular 12-ounce can of Coca-Cola classic, the “magic” behind this can was a unique, instant-win MagiCan mechanism that popped out cash (ranging from $1 to $500) or prize vouchers when opened. 

magican

MagiCan was supposed to be available from May 14th through August 15th of 1990 but was pulled early due to consumer complaints about “foul-smelling” liquid in the cans.  MagiCans were filled with water in order for to feel like a regular 12-ounce can, but malfunctions in the pop-up mechanism or faulty seals sometimes allowed the water to leak out.  While the water was tested and found to be harmless if consumed, Coca-Cola decided to end the promotion early in order to avoid any further negative press.  We have a few opened and unopened MagiCans in the Coca-Cola archives.  Does anyone remember this promotion or have a MagiCan in their collection?

magican-from-archives
April 09, 2014

Congrats to The Contour Bottle!

champion

Congratulations to The Contour Bottle! Unlike the surprise winner of this year’s Men’s NCAA Championship, this one was somewhat expected as The Contour Bottle was the overall #1 seed. While it started out as a close vote with Santa Claus out to an early lead, it ended up with The Counter Bottle's 81 votes to Santa's 56.

It's the simple conduit designed 99 years ago so that consumers would know it even if they felt it in the dark, and it took on a life of its own ever since. The Contour Bottle is tried and true and still standing after five rounds of being tested - just like a returnable bottle, only this time, in the brackets instead of the market!

Thanks for playing along with us, and read the final report here.
February 28, 2014

Coca-Cola is the Secret!

1956 Coca-Cola Letter from Jesse J. Lewis to Mary Alexander

I interviewed Dr. Jesse Lewis, the man who hired Mary Alexander as the first African American model to appear in Coca-Cola advertising in 1955. Dr. Lewis has a very long and distinguished history in advertising, with Coca-Cola interwoven throughout his story. He was Public Relations Representative for the Birmingham Coca-Cola Bottling Company when he wrote the letter above to Mary Alexander regarding her role in Coke history as it were. As I interviewed him, I wondered the same thing that I have been trying to figure out about Mary Alexander as well: What is the secret to looking so great and having so much energy at their age? As Dr. Lewis confirms in this video, it must be Coca-Cola!

October 24, 2013

World Polio Awareness Day - A Personal Story

Polio Vaccine Distribution

Delivering Polio Vaccine in Argentina, 1964

October 24th is World Polio Awareness day.  Last year, I wrote a blog post for The Company's official blog, Unbottled, highlighting how polio had impacted my family and giving details on the efforts of The Coca-Cola Company to distribute the polio vaccine in Latin America.  On Polio Awareness Day, I wanted to re-share that blog. ^TR

September 23, 2013

Andy Warhol and Coca-Cola

Warhol Photographs

Andy Warhol was the father of the Pop Art movement and began painting his famous series of Coca-Cola bottles in the early 1960s.  While we do not have any of those items in our collection, (the last one sold at auction for more than 35 million dollars!) we do have a selection of Coca-Cola related Warhol material from later in his career.  Last week I installed a small exhibit in our office complex featuring two sets of Warhol material - items created about New Coke and a selection of photographs.

Andy Warhol discovered photography later in his career and by the time of his death, had over 50,000 photographs in his collection.  Warhol took a camera with him everywhere he went capturing the personalities he met at The Factory or out on the town.  Each night, he would have the negatives developed and the next day would select the images he wanted printed.  One print would be made and marked with Warhol’s stamp on the back. This selection of photographs shows the variety of scenes where Coca-Cola was present in Warhol’s daily routine.

Warhol Screenprint

On April 23, 1985, The Coca-Cola Company introduced New Coke and for 79 days endured protest, negative PR, grass roots campaigns and even lawsuits to bring back the original formula.  Time Magazine asked Warhol to depict New Coke as potential cover art for a story on the episode.  These elements show the creative process Warhol employed to create the art.  He poured Coca-Cola on art paper to get a proper spill and took the Polaroid's of the cans to capture that effect.  The finished art is a screenprint on museum board.  In the end, Time opted to not use the art.

While these items are can only be seen at our headquarters building, I am hoping to be able to create a traveling exhibit to make them available to a broader audience.  ^TR

September 17, 2013

TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola Vintage Vendor

Vendo 44

The TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola is one of my favorite golf tournaments. This event, which closes out the FedEx Cup Playoffs features the top 30 golfers in the world as determined by points the players have received for placing in events earlier in the year.  East Lake Golf Club has served as the home of the Tournament since 2005.

Since 2009, in addition to a pretty big check, the winner of the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola has also received a restored, working vintage vending machine.  Terry Kimble of Remember When Collectibles  has provided the machines and we have helped set up the display to highlight the machine in front of the East Lake Golf Course.  

Vendor and Camera

This year, we have a beautifully restored Vendo 44 on hand for the winner.  We also have a twist, we worked with the editorial team from Coca-Cola Journey who filmed the restoration of the machine from beginning to end.  The pride that Terry takes in his work is very evident and the finished machine really does look like a work of art. You can watch the vido here.

I was at East Lake Golf Club yesterday morning as we had the machine placed in front of the Clubhouse and filmed the final delivery of the Vendo.  As you watch the tournament this weekend, you can be a bit envious that the winner will be taking home a check... and the Vendo! ^TR

August 12, 2013

Coca-Cola Restaurants

Diamond Restaurant

Diamond Restaurant, Charlotte, NC

We need your help! Readers of this blog will know that we are closet "foodies" and a number of our posts and videos in the past have focused on Coca-Cola and food, not only as an accompaniment, but also as an ingredient.  We have posted countless recipes for chicken, ribs, and chili. I blogged about The Five Spot in Seattle with their famous Coca-Cola Brisket and we have posted videos from The West Egg, Carvers Country Kitchen, Holeman & Finch and even the famous Varsity in Atlanta.

We are trying to gather a list of places across the US (or even anywhere in the world) that either use Coca-Cola as an ingredient, serve Coke in an unusual way (like an old time fountain) or have Coca-Cola memorabilia as part of their decoration.

nifty-fiftys-diner-port-townsend-wa-224x300

Our Summer Intern, Ginny Van Winkle mapped out the 40+ locations we have identified.  Take a look at the map as you are planning your travels and share this blog with you friends and lets see if we can get a nice list of interesting places for Coca-Cola and food. Think of it as a Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives (one of my favorite shows) of Coca-Cola. I took both photos on this post in the last month.  At The Coca-Cola Collectors Club annual meeting in Charlotte, I had some great chicken wings with a Coca-Cola/Jack Daniels sauce at the Diamond Restaurant and last week had a Coke Float at Nifty Fifty's Soda Fountain in Port Townsend, WA.

Send your restaurant suggestions to gvanwinkle@coca-cola.com and we will add them to our list! ^TR


July 16, 2013

Active Healthy Living Through the Years

Coca-Cola Active Healthy Living Exhibit 1

“Active, Healthy Living" has always been supported by The Coca-Cola Company. To showcase this fact, we just opened a temporary exhibit at The World of Coca-Cola entitled, "Active Healthy Living Through the Years". The case highlights a lot of fun artifacts that display some of the Company’s sponsorships of physical fitness programs through the years and its commitment to offering an array of packaging sizes over time, like the first Coca-Cola mini-cans from the 1970s all the way up to today. The earliest item on display is 1938’s “Steps to Health” board game from Canada, which you can see pictured here. Do any of you collectors out there have this game in their collection? We actually have two different versions of the game in our Archives. The exhibit will be up until mid-November.


April 12, 2013

A Pair of Pioneers: How Coca-Cola Introduced Mary Alexander to Jackie Robinson

Some 57 years ago, two historic African American figures met in the city of Atlanta at a sports event co-sponsored by The Coca-Cola Company. The event was the Annual Sports Jamboree of the “100% Wrong Club”, a unit of the sports department of the Atlanta Daily World newspaper. The historic figures? Jackie Robinson, the first African American to play in Major League Baseball, and Mrs. Mary Alexander, the first African American model to appear in Coca-Cola advertising. “That was the highlight of my life”, Mrs. Alexander shared with me a few weeks ago when recounting the experience. “I was modeling for Coke and they asked me if I would come to the [sports program] and I said, ‘Yes! What do I do?’ and they replied, ‘You just go there and meet the people and talk and drink Coke.’ I said ‘fine!’” In addition to meeting Jackie Robinson, she also met Branch Rickey, the general manager who signed Robinson to the Brooklyn Dodgers. 

“I was so excited and so happy to meet both of them. And, I got their autographs!”, she told me while flipping through the program from that night and showing off each signature and the two Coca-Cola ads which appeared in its pages. “I talked to everybody I saw there and I told them I worked for Coca-Cola and we just had a good time!”, she added. In the photo in our Archives released from the event, Wilbur Kurtz, the first Archivist for Coca-Cola, and Coca-Cola special representative Moss Kendrix are pictured with Robinson, Rickey and others. Kurtz delivered a welcome for the occasion, on which Rickey won “The Pioneer Award” and Robinson and teammate Pee Wee Reese took home “The Two Friends Award.” Robinson received the award on behalf of himself and Reese, who was unable to be in Atlanta for the event which was also co-sponsored by the Atlanta Daily World newspaper and Atlanta Life Insurance Company. 

Since the movie about Jackie Robinson, “42”, opens in theaters today starring Chadwick Boseman as Jackie Robinson and Harrison Ford as Branch Rickey, I thought it was appropriate also to share the following video about the lady I affectionately call “Miss Mary”, who is one of my personal heroes!

April 09, 2013

Salute to a Coke Fan in Chattanooga!

Yesterday, I got to take a bus trip to Chattanooga, Tennessee to give a presentation on the history of Coca-Cola. While I have given this presentation many times in the past, never have I done it while riding on a bus, standing backwards (to face the audience). As I told them, I considered it a successful presentation simply because I did not lose my balance and fall down the steps! When it comes to Coca-Cola in bottles, all roads stem from Chattanooga, site of the first Coca-Cola Bottling Company which was started when Benjamin Thomas and Joseph Whitehead acquired the rights to bottle Coke in 1899. In fact, there is a local saying that I learned: "Inside every bottle of Coca-Cola, there's a little bit of Chattanooga."

The highlight of my day came when I met Robert, who is pictured below with me at a great shop called The Ice Cream Show in Chattanooga. Robert told me that he had a Coke every afternoon between 3-4 PM, and loves ice cream at night. He is an 80 year-old Alabama native, and even has a case of the Coca-Cola Bear Bryant commemorative bottles, a favorite among Coca-Cola Collectors. Please join me in giving Robert a Coca-Cola salute!

Jamal Booker and Coca-Cola Fan Robert in Chattanooga