Chattanooga is the site of the World's First
Coca-Cola Bottling Company. Before Coca-Cola first appeared in
bottles, it was sold as a fountain drink for more than a decade.
The world's best known taste was born on May 8, 1886 in Atlanta,
Georgia. The taste originated in a three-legged brass kettle
sitting in the backyard of Dr. John Stythe Pemberton. Pemberton,
a local pharmacist and concocter of medicinal beverages, stirred up a
caramel-colored syrup creation that we know today as Coca-Cola.
Soon after, Pemberton began selling the drink mixed with soda water in
a nearby pharmacy.
In the summer of 1899, Mr. Benjamin F.
Thomas and Mr. Joseph B. Whitehead ventured down to Atlanta from
Chattanooga to meet with Mr. Asa Candler; who purchased the
Coca-Cola Company seven years earlier. When they conveyed their
idea to bottle Coca-Cola to Mr. Candler, he thought they were
insane. He feared that if Thomas and Whitehead were allowed to
bottle the product, they would lose everything and damage the
reputation of the Coca-Cola Company in the process. After much
persuasion, Candler signed a contract, selling the bottling rights to
Thomas and Whitehead for $1.00 (A dollar, which by the way, he never
bothered to collect). The two new entrepreneurs returned home
satisfied and with the aid of colleague John T. Lupton, opened the
World's First Coca-Cola Bottling Company. The original facility
was located at 17 Market Street where Patten Parkway now stands.
As the business continued to thrive, the plant was moved to 201 Broad
Street, and finally in 1970, to its current location at 4000 Amnicola
In 1992, Chattanooga Coca-Cola became part
of United Packers' Central Division, which also currently includes
other facilities in Birmingham, Cullman, and Jasper
Alabama. United Packers is one of the nation's most efficient
and modern producers of non-carbonated beverages and is well renowned
for its innovation, product quality, and customer service.
Chattanooga Coca-Cola Bottling maintains a dominate market share in
the southeastern Tennessee and northwest Georgia regions. Former
Vice-President of Coca-Cola United and former Chattanooga employee
Robert Lovell points to the bottler's "very strong presence"
in recreational, educational, and philanthropic contributions as one
of the major causes for the company's success. Chattanooga
Coca-Cola plays a notable role through both charitable and community
involvements in these arenas. Working with United Way, Big
Brother/Sister programs, the Hamilton County Board of Education, and
many other organizations, Coca-Cola is able to grow and improve
Chattanooga and the surrounding area. "Inside every bottle
of Coca-Cola, there's a little bit of Chattanooga."
In 1999, Chattanooga Coca-Cola celebrated
its 100th Anniversary as the World's First Coca -Cola bottler by
placing a historical marker at the site of the original plant.
What makes this company so special? "It's not mortar and
steel," says Chattanooga Division Vice-President Gary Davis,
"but it is infrastructure - not something you put on a bronze
plaque. That infrastructure is the employees, the relationship
they build in the community, and the way in which they value the
reputation of their company."
Although it began more than 100 years ago,
the goal of Chattanooga Coca-Cola is best described in the company's
mission statement: "To carry on the historic tradition of
Coca-Cola in Chattanooga by providing quality products and service at
a fair price. We should strive to always be leaders in the
community with competent, determined people who love their job."