SuperTalk Mississippi

“Have a Coke Day” reminds Mississippi of rich Coca-Cola history

Photo courtesy of Telesouth Communications Inc.

There’s no shortage of random national “holidays”, and today is “National Have a Coke Day”, but many may not know Mississippi’s ties to the most iconic soda.

Everyone has their preference of how to get the perfect Coke taste; whether it’s from the fountain, in a can or in a bottle, but Mississippi had an early hand in the bottling of the soda. Back in 1894, Vicksburg businessman Joseph Biedenharn became the first person to ever bottle Coca-Cola.

Five years later, Coca-Cola eventually sold the bottling rights to two attorneys from Chattanooga, Tenn., Benjamin F. Thomas and Joseph B. Whitehead for just $1, but Vicksburg was specifically excluded from the franchise agreement.

That wasn’t the end for bottling in Mississippi as Coca-Cola was also bottled for 95 years in Corinth, but production eventually ceased nearly 15 years ago. According to the Corinth Coca-Cola Museum’s website, the bottling of the soda came to the area in 1906.

“Our story actually begins in 1905, when Avon Kenneth Weaver bought an interest in Corinth (MS) Bottling Works, a small soda water plant owned by Mr. C. C. Clark. At that time, Coca-Cola was being produced in Jackson, Tennessee and shipped to Corinth by rail car. Mr. Weaver and Mr. Clark were set on obtaining a Coca-Cola franchise for Northeast Mississippi and while awaiting developments in Corinth, were granted a license for Coca-Cola in New Albany, Mississippi. Mr. Clark moved there to begin that operation in 1906.”

In 1907, franchise rights were given to Corinth and bottling production began. Kenneth Williams is Weaver’s grandson and currently operates the museum. Located right across from the old plant, Williams says that the museum serves as a reminder of Mississippi’s rich history with Coca-Cola.

“It’s a place for people to come and view our home and our history, and we have a wonderful history,” he said.

The term “pop” may not be used much in Mississippi while talking about soda, but Williams says it may have roots here in the Magnolia state.

The museum features over 1,000 pieces of authentic Coca-Cola memorabilia and is free and open to the public.

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