Biedenharn Coca-Cola Museum

Vicksburg Foundation for
Historic Preservation

1107 Washington Street
Vicksburg, MS  39183

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The Origins of Coca-Cola

In 1866, Dr. John S. Pemberton, a pharmacist in Atlanta, Georgia, created what would become the most recognized and popular soft drink on earth.    

Dr. Pemberton, no relation to the famous officer who defended Vicksburg during the Siege of Vicksburg, and Coca-Cola's second owner, Asa Candler, began distribution of the syrup to other soda foundations across the South, including Vicksburg.

The rest of the story will come from Mr. Joe Biedenharn in a letter to then vice president of the Coca-Cola Company, Harrison Jones, dated September 11, 1939. 

"Dear Harrison:

Replying to your inquiry in your recent letter, beg to advise that I think it was in the summer of 1894 that we first bottled Coca-Cola at what was then 218-220 Washington Street, Vicksburg, Mississippi.

It was through Mr. A. G. Candler's suggestion to me upon one of his business trips to Vicksburg that finally led up to our bottling Coca-Cola.  He suggested to me that we stock and job Coca-Cola syrup to supply the fountain dispensing trade in and around Vicksburg.  The agreement between us was that we were to buy not less than 2,000 gallons of Coca-Cola syrup during a 12-month period, subject to 25 cent per gallon rebate at the end of the 12-month period.

We were operating a wholesale and retail confectionary business and were dispensing Coca-Cola through our soda fountain, so this proposal fell right into line with our jobbing business.

Consumer demand has increased and was increasing rapidly, as a Coca-Cola would only be had in the cities where the fountains were dispending it. The thought struck on day, "Why not bottle it for our country trade?"  We were in the soda water bottling game and it was easy to start it going.

We sent one of our first cases of bottled Coca-Cola to Mr. Candler and he wrote back that it was fine.  Prices at  that time were seventy cents per case on Coca-Cola and sixty cents per case on bottled soda water.  This started us off on the right track and I have seen Coca-Cola grow with us from a five-gallon keg the first year to what it is today." 

                                                   J. Biedenharn


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of The Coca-Cola Company




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