Saturday, April 20, 2024

The (average) World of Coca-Cola

MosaicThe (average) World of Coca-Cola

PATTY HARDEN
Staff Reporter




The World of Coca-Cola, or Coca-Cola museum, is a tourist spotlight in Atlanta, Georgia. It explores the history of the famous drink down to its initial creation and houses many exhibitions. It figures out the mystique of the flavor to tasting and making drinks around the world.

I had always heard of the place, and my sister was adamant about seeing it when the family was together. I figured this museum would be just the thing to pique my interests and desires. That was, until I visited the museum with my mom and sister over the holidays.

For starters, my mom and I came to Atlanta to stay with my eldest sister, and the museum was on our “Things to go see” list. We took a reasonably fast drive along the highway to the place, which was packed. Even the Georgia Aquarium, which was right across the street, was less crowded than the lines into the Coca-Cola museum.

At least parking was relatively easy. 

Once we got in line and entered the lobby, where everyone was waiting to enter The Loft (a room filled with Coca-Cola artifacts from over 30 countries), we took pictures in front of Coke bottle statues. I was highly aware of how uncomfortable and impatient the three of us were in such a packed place, and my mom was attempting to start fights over who was in the line.

The Loft presented various posters and mementos of Coca-Cola history, including the various versions of languages used, which my sister and I found enlightening. The tour guide also gave a random shoutout to a drink called “Beverly.” We pondered what that meant and if that flavor really existed as we moved onto the Coca-Cola theater, home of the six-minute film, “Moments of Happiness.”

This film was emotionally short and sweet, showcasing memories like marriage proposals and soldiers’ homecoming topped off with sharing a can of Coke.  However, my mom wasn’t amused, instead saying, “That’s it? What a waste.” My sister and I tried to explain how the message of the movie was that Coca-Cola connects people’s joy, but it seemed to be a lost cause as her grumpiness ensued.

The real show began once the doors opened to The Hub, where all the exhibitions on both floors of the museum were located. Our first stop was “The Vault” of the secret formula, which was an exhibition of Coke’s history from its creation as a pharmaceutical drink to the rise of its competitors. It was a light show to behold as we slowly trekked through the buzzing crowd. 

There were interactive shelves and screens that revealed all kinds of tools and ingredients used to make the titular beverage. I thought it was going to be an escape room where we would find clues leading us to the secret formula, but I guess they called it a secret for a reason: It really never was passed down.

The next stop was “Milestones of Refreshment,” which was full of galleries depicting memorabilia of the Coca-Cola factory. 

My favorite part was the array of bottled drinks that the Coca-Cola company owns: “A World of Beverage Choices.” It ranged from familiarities like Minute Maid and Fanta to brands that were initially foreign, which we would further discover with the “Beverage Lab” and “Taste It!”

Unfortunately, the beverage lab did not live up to our expectations. It was not even open, except for a few stalls with kiosks presenting one of four chosen flavors or a mystery flavor that tasted stale even for Coke’s standards.

Speaking of taste, our gold mine exhibition was “Taste It,” which was home to samples of several sodas distributed by Coca-Cola. Some of them had different versions worldwide. For example, a Sprite in Argentina tasted tamer than the American version I was accustomed to.

My mom’s personal favorite was Barq’s Red Cream Soda, which I tasted once I was done with the Sprite. Then, our eyes fell upon an Italian soda called “Beverly.” It was the drink the tour guide talked about, but this very drink would wash all our joys from the trip down the drain.

I took a sip, while my mom and sister drank almost half a cup.

The taste wasn’t immediate, but when it hit, it felt like a ton of bricks made out of vinegar. It tasted like something, yet nothing. In fact, it felt alcoholic, akin to vodka or strong wine, without actually having alcohol in it.

We all immediately went to the dispenser where the red cream soda was and drank an entire cup to get it out of our mouths, though we could still taste it when we left the place, which was no more crowded than when we came in.

As we headed back to the car, we glanced at the aquarium, packed more than earlier. We concluded our visit by taking our pictures in front of some of the statues that were outside.

What a trip that was. Interesting merchandise and knowledge, questionable samples and a place so crowded lines were tangled with one another. I felt cheated because we didn’t get to make our own drinks, but given the disappointing taste testing, I doubt it would’ve been worth it.

My sister still had the Beverly aftertaste in her mouth as we drove off, never to come back. We celebrated our survival with tacos, burritos and other tortilla dishes.

Needless to say, the World of Coca-Cola seemed to have magic that would provide enlightening history with a drop of fun for anyone, especially newcomers to Atlanta. However, after the trip, I felt more disappointed than I did enthusiastic.

I might as well add shaken to the list of emotions with how Beverly, out of all those international sodas, would be the one to leave a bad taste in my mouth.

I think I’ll just settle for the standard Coke I can get locally. At least that will keep my senses safe from the influence of the worst soda I’ve ever tasted.

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