By Joann M. Ringelstetter
In our travels along the rural backroads and through the small towns of America, Ruth and I are always on the lookout for old Coca-Cola signs. Sometimes, they’re pretty easy to spot, like this unique sign on the side of an old general store in rural North Carolina.
Other times, it’s more of a struggle to see them, and also to photograph them. The abandoned Arkansas grocery store in the photo below had a large rusty Coca-Cola sign on the side of the store, which you can see if you look closely at the bottom right of the photo. Unfortunately, it was overgrown with brush on that side.
You probably know by now that I don’t usually give up easily and I work hard to try to get the photo in spite of the obstacles. In this case, I crawled through the brush and set up my tripod and camera with my remote shutter release. Then I pulled back several tree branches to reveal and photograph as much of the sign as I could.
Coca-Cola was created on May 8, 1886 in Atlanta, Georgia, by Dr. John S. Pemberton, a local pharmacist. He then carried a jug of the syrup down the street to Jacobs’ Pharmacy, where it was combined with carbonated water and served as a soda fountain drink that cost five cents per glass.
The new Coca-Cola drink was promoted as “Delicious and Refreshing” and for its ability to relieve fatigue. In 1894, Coca-Cola was promoted on the first outdoor wall advertisement, which was painted in Cartersville, Georgia.
Sales were modest that first year and averaged nine drinks per day. In 1895, Asa Candler, who had finalized the purchase of The Coca-Cola Company three years earlier, announced in his annual report to shareholders that “Coca-Cola is now drunk in every state and territory in the United States."
Meanwhile, Joseph A. Biedenharn, who owned a soda fountain in Vicksburg, Mississippi, became the first bottler of the popular drink. He began to sell cases of Coca-Cola to farms and lumber camps located along the Mississippi River.
Large scale bottling began in 1899 and, in 1916, the unique contour Coca-Cola bottle was approved by the bottlers.
In 2011, The Coca-Cola Company celebrated 125 years of the Coca-Cola brand. By 2013, Coke was available in over 200 countries, with over 1.8 million beverage servings consumed each day.
Today, May 8, is National Have a Coke Day in honor of the day that Coca-Cola was invented. If you didn’t have a coke today, have one tomorrow. It’s the Real Thing!