Pop Culture

March 27, 2014

Coca-Cola Advertising Icons Bracket Challenge

Coca-Cola Advertising Icons March Madness Bracket Challenge

I've always been a huge college basketball fan, but I decided not to fill out a bracket this year. If I had filled one out, it would have been toast by now. With the Madness of March upon us, we have launched a Coca-Cola Advertising Icons Bracket Challenge featuring an all-star cast of Coke advertising icons. 

Among the favorites are icons that Coca-Cola Collectors are fond of, such as Santa Claus, Sprite Boy and The Coca-Cola Red Disc. Lots of interesting match-ups! Fans can vote on the eight first-round match-ups on Coca-Cola Journey  through Sunday night. We’ll refresh the bracket after each round and declare a winner on April 7 or 8.

Vegas odds-makers are currently favoring the overall #1 seed, The Contour Bottle, but several insiders are predicting a Polar Bear upset. Get in on the action and cast your first round votes today at the link below:


March 25, 2014

Vivian "The Coca-Cola Girl"

The Coca-Cola Girls became well known through the Company’s advertising.  Beautiful, young girls graced the pages of magazines and smiled from roadside billboards throughout the teens and twenties.  In 1927, The Coca-Cola Company sponsored its first radio program – “The Voice of the Coca-Cola Girl.”  The program premiered on May 10, 1927 and introduced America to Vivian, "The Coca-Cola Girl".  For fourteen weeks, listeners tuned in to hear about the developing romance between Vivian and Jim.  They met each week in different parts of the country and visited many interesting places together.  Americans were drawn into their romance and the program was met with high praise.  

March 25, 2014

The Cobot


The Sochi Winter Olympics may be over, but I have some Olympic trivia for you: Who made their debut at the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid as the world’s first ever ice-skating robot?  That’s right, it was “Cobot!”  This life-sized robot could skate with the best of them, appearing in news features with figure skating coach Gus Lussi and figure skating champion Jojo Starbuck.  The Coca-Cola Archives has a “Cobot” at our off-site storage facility where I recently snapped this picture.  Was anyone lucky enough to see “Cobot” in person at the 1980 Winter Olympics?

March 25, 2014

Lillian Nordica


Lillian Nordica (1857-1914) was a famous American opera star and actress who performed at the Metropolitan Opera House, Madison Square Garden, and Carnegie Hall in New York City. Along with Hilda Clark, she was one of the earliest celebrities featured in Coca-Cola advertising.  Her image appeared on trays, calendars, posters and novelty items distributed by the Company beginning in 1904. In 1905, Nordica appeared in a full color magazine ad that was published in the leading magazines of the time including Good Housekeeping, Munsey's Magazine and Scribner's Magazine.  Attached to the bottom of the ad was a sampling coupon for a free glass of Coca-Cola at the soda fountain.  The coupon could be clipped from the magazine ad and redeemed for the free sample.  Almost $43,000 worth of coupons were redeemed in 1905 alone.

December 31, 2013

Happy 20th Birthday, Coca-Cola Polar Bear!


The beloved Coca-Cola Polar Bears turned 20 this year. The first Coca-Cola Polar Bear television commercial was aired in 1993. In honor of this milestone, our Coca-Cola Journey team interviewed the visual effects supervisor who worked on the animated 1993 commercial as a digital artist. Read the interview here.

November 20, 2013

My Favorite Album Cover and Liner Notes


One of the highlights of my career was recently getting to interview DJ, author and sports announcer Bobbito Garcia  for a Coca-Cola Journey story entitled "5 Reasons Why Dusty Tops Digital," highlighting the advantages of vinyl records. Being around so many Coca-Cola Collectors over the years inspired me to start collecting vinyl records over a year ago. I keep a list of records that I would love to have and everywhere I travel, I stop at a local record shop and bring some used vinyl back home. 

One of the things Bobbito and I discussed during the interview was our appreciation of liner notes – the stories often written on vinyl album sleeves. Liner notes provided the lost back stories about the album that would otherwise not be known. One of my favorite album covers is from Jimmy Smith’s 1958 "Home Cookin'" LP. It hangs on the wall above my desk. On the cover, jazz organist Jimmy Smith stands in front of "Kate’s Home Cooking" a Harlem, New York restaurant. I've always loved the fact that two Coca-Cola signs are displayed prominently on the restaurant’s window. 

I learned from the liner notes on the back of this album that the restaurant was considered "soul station" to many musicians in the neighborhood of Harlem's Apollo Theatre in New York City. This insight helps me imagine that that likes of Count Basie, Art Blakey and Horace Silver – all artists mentioned in the notes as frequent guests at the restaurant – could have enjoyed a Coca-Cola there between gigs at the world renowned Apollo Theatre. 

The "Home Cookin'" album was dedicated to the restaurant’s owner, Kate O. Bishop, "in recognition of a certain brand of culinary art," jazz journalist Ira Gitler wrote in the liner notes. The music "approximates the feeling her cuisine imparts." It's great to understand the significance of Kate's Home Cooking, and it’s cool to see that Coca-Cola was apparently a staple in the establishment.

Without those liner notes, I would never have that context.

September 24, 2013

Christmas Came Early!


Panorama of Oglethorpe University Museum of Art

Each year we work with partners to showcase our original Coca-Cola Santa paintings by Haddon Sundblom.  The paintings have been displayed at locations as diverse as museums like the Louvre in Paris and the Royal Ontario in Canada to malls in Japan and China and even the home Cracker Barrel in Tennessee!  This year, the Santa's will be on display at Oglethorpe University Museum of Art in Atlanta Georgia and the Louisville Slugger Museum in Louisville, Kentucky.  While the Louisville exhibit will not open until closer to Christmas, the Oglethorpe show opened a few weeks ago and will be up through December 8th.  We visited last week and I tried to capture the gallery in a panorama, I can assure you the show looks much better in person.  If you are visiting Atlanta and want to support a great local museum, make plans to visit Oglethorpe before it closes.  ^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

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.


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 11, 2013

Coke Archives Placelist

Spotify Can

Spotify Cans

Last year, The Coca-Cola Company announced a global partnership with Spotify, a digital music service that provides on demand streaming of millions of songs.  As part of the partnership, Coca-Cola developed Placelist a new social music app hosted on Spotify’s free streaming music platform.  The app lets fans see where friends are checked in on Facebook, listen to other Placelists and zoom in on locations around the world – from a neighborhood café or park, to Copacabana beach in Rio, to the Eiffel Tower in Paris. Users can add tracks to an existing Placelist, vote songs up the queue or create a new Placelist for a specific location.  


This is all cool, but what does it have to do with the Coca-Cola Archives?  Well, we are huge music fans and created a Coke Archives Placelist.  Every musical act that appears on the Placelist also appeared in a Coca-Cola Company ad.  I had a fun afternoon creating a list of musical acts including Lillian Nordica, Glen Miller, The Limeliters, The Who, Elton John, RUN-DMC, Selena and even a comedy routine by Bill Cosby.  You can virtually visit the music vault in our Archives and listen to some of the musical greats who have appeared in Coca-Cola Company ads over the years. 

We only started the list with forty musical acts, and now we are inviting you to add more.  Just think of an artist who appeared in an ad, search for a song of theirs on Spotify and click the add button to add it to our Placelist.

For the can collectors out there, keep your eyes open for the Spotify slim can that was introduced in England last week.  They look pretty cool.  I am trying to get some for the Archives collection. ^TR