Editor Matthew Hepburn digs out five of his favourite items from the Coca-Cola archives in Atlanta – home to world’s largest collection of Coke memorabilia and merchandise.
Earlier this year I travelled across the pond for our annual #JourneyOn conference, where we spent several days discussing the future of this very website and digital media platform. While there, I also managed to sneak a peek of the Coca-Cola archives, one of the most sought-after experiences for Coke fans and employees.
Locked away inside row-upon-row of high-density shelving sat dozens of original, commemorative and limited edition bottles, cans and collectibles spanning the last 130 years of Coca-Cola's history. Here's a quick look inside:
Like a big kid in a candy store, I couldn’t stop myself from running around pointing at things, picking them up and asking Coke’s director of heritage communications, Ted Ryan, to tell me more about them. And, to my delight, he’d be able to recite all the details from memory, almost enjoying the challenge!
I left the Coca-Cola 'cave of wonders' with a smartphone full of photos and videos, unsure what to do with so many gigabytes of content. That’s when I decided to pick out a few of my favourite items, and share them on here for everyone else to enjoy. So, without further ado…
Coca-Cola Chewing Gum
Available during the early 1900s, Coca-Cola chewing gum came in spearmint, peppermint and wintergreen flavours. We never actually distributed the gum, but licensed the rights to the Franklin-Caro Company who supplied it to wholesalers. Why do I like it? Because, like, who knew Coca-Cola gum even existed!?
Marble Soda Fountain
This sample soda fountain was used by the John Matthews Corp. to sell their ornate marble fountains during the early nineteenth century. Why do I like it? Because John Matthews was an English-born American, and he had a cool nickname as "the soda fountain king" for his equipment was the best at making carbonated water.
Neon Coca-Cola Clocks
In the 1940s, these tabletop clocks were a practical and dramatic way to advertise Coca-Cola. Why do I like them? Because they’re bright, colorful and remind me of retro American diners. Find out why collectors are going cuckoo for clocks.
Coca-Cola Dome Clocks
We offered these key-wound, glass-encased dome clocks as an anniversary gift to our bottlers, the companies who make and distribute our drinks. Why do I like them? Because they’re small and look beautifully crafted.
Coca-Cola Desk Calendar
These branded desk calendars were an office staple back in the 1950s. Why do I like them? Because they remind me of something you’d see on Don Draper's desk.
Needless to say, the list could go on, but I’ll save the rest for another post, another day. The Coca-Cola archives are a unique and cavernous space, filled with some of the most unusual and elegant artifacts that stand as a testament to the longevity and rich heritage of the company. If you can't pay a visit in person, I highly recommend you check out the Coca-Cola archives virtual tour.
More on Journey
- The tale of two forgotten ads from London’s swingin’ sixties
- A treasure trove of nostalgia: the Coca-Cola archives
- The Beatles, Coca-Cola and the Casbah Coffee Club
- Historic Move: How Coca-Cola is Relocating Its Precious Archives
- ‘I Could Teach the History of the United States, Maybe The World, Through Coca-Cola Advertising’: An Interview with Coke’s Director of Heritage Communications Ted Ryan