A trip around the world with Coca-Cola

World of Coca-Cola
Exterior of the World of Coca-Cola building.

I’ve been a fan of Coca-Cola for the longest time, and during my day trip into Atlanta, Georgia, we stopped at the World of Coca-Cola, an interactive exhibit that is all about the carbonated soft drink. Atlanta is where Dr. John Pemberton first crafted his concoction back in 1886, and it’s here that the company has its headquarters.

We arrived just before opening at 10:00 am EDT; while there was a large tour group waiting outside, we were able to purchase tickets quickly when it opened and made our way into the lobby. Inside the lobby, a group of ladies welcomed us and presented a complimentary mini can of Coke (classic, diet, or life) to enjoy before entering the loft.

Our Host at the World of Coca-Cola.
Our Host at the World of Coca-Cola.

The loft is a darkly-lit hall with ramps surrounded by all sorts of Coca-Cola memorabilia from around the world, many pieces originating from the turn of the 20th century. Here, our host was as effervescent as the drink itself, doling out trivia before escorting us into the theatre where we’d watch a brief film of various groups of people doing fun and exciting things to upbeat the song “On Top of the World” by the Imagine Dragons.

Upon completion of the film, we were free to explore the rest of the museum. In the main hall we could have our pictures taken with the drinks’s polar bear mascot, try and guess the formula of Coke in the vault or watch a much scaled down version of a bottling plant. The Milestones of Refreshment has on display even more artifacts from the history of Coke, including items from the Olympic games (of which the company is a sponsor). A number of the torches used were shown, sadly lacking the one from the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics.

On the second floor, there is a 4D theatre and rooms with artwork from around the world, and a pop culture gallery. For those old enough to remember, Coca-Cola changed their formula in the 1980s to much backlash from the public. It was interesting to see newspaper articles and videos from news broadcasts featuring the negative response from Coke fans — usually, most companies try and hide their mistakes.

Of course, a trip to the World of Coca-Cola isn’t complete without visiting their tasting room. Here, five kiosks representing the five continents on which Coke is served (Europe, Africa, Asia, North America and Latin America) was were we could sample the many drinks from around the world. Some of the ones I tried were Inca Kola (Peru), Delaware Punch (Honduras), Thums Up (India), Vegita Beta (Japan), Sunfill (Djibouti), Bjäre (Sweden), Beverly (Italy) and probably a few more I’m forgetting. Rather than fill my cup (reusing the plastic cup was encouraged) to the brim each time, I only took a small amount from each of the kiosks so that I wouldn’t be loaded up on sugar for the rest of the day. And yes, the refills are unlimited. But if you must try one, definitely pour yourself a cup of Beverly.

And like any good attraction, the exit was through the gift store. Coke lovers, rejoice, this is your paradise. Commemorative glasses, bottles, plushes, apparel, sundries and accessories, all branded with the Coca-Cola logo.

Overall, it was a fun experience and learned a little more about Coke, and sampled some of their products that we may never get to try (unless you travel or visit a speciality store that imports it).

The World of Coca-Cola is located at 121 Baker Street NW, across the street from the Centennial Olympic in downtown Atlanta. Hours vary by day and season, so check the web site for details. General admission to enter is $17.00 USD, though if you buy ahead online, you can save four dollars.

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