Did you know bottled Coca-Cola got its start right here in Mississippi?
In 1894, Vicksburg candy store owner Joseph A. Biedenharn was looking to boost his soda fountain sales. He wanted sales beyond the shop, so he decided to turn to bottles. A remarkable story of manufacturing and marketing, the Bidenharn Coca-Cola Museum tells it all.
The museum, located on Washington Street in downtown Vicksburg, recounts the history of the bottling of America’s favorite soft drink and how it all started in Mississippi. Inside, you will find an extensive collection of Coca-Cola memorabilia, from the old tin signs to the first bottled drinks. Expect to be impressed as you walk through.
“The museum is a fun place for all to visit,” said Nancy Bell, the museum’s executive director. “Older visitors get excited seeing the actual equipment and the process of bottling while younger seem to enjoy all the memorable signs and the vintage soda fountain. Everyone loves having a fresh fountain ice cream float from the gift shop. It’s a fun place.”
The museum is in the original building that housed the Biedenharn candy shop. The building has been restored and the bottling equipment has been reconstructed to look exactly as it did in the 1890s.
“Reproduction of the bottling equipment gives visitors a chance to see what was really involved in the early days,” Bell continued. “I think most people are surprised. There is plenty to take in and enjoy.”
Taking a step back to 1866, it was then that Dr. John S. Pemberton created Coca-Cola. The Atlanta pharmacist came up with the thirst-quenching idea as a tonic for common ailments before it became a full-force soft drink with the help of Biedenharn.
Biedenharn was the first to envision the product beyond the fountain stands, and the Vicksburg museum does an impeccable job of telling the full story.
WHAT: The Biedenharn Coca-Cola Museum
WHERE: 1107 Washington Street in Vicksburg
HOURS: Monday-Friday 9 a.m.-5 p.m. and Sunday 1:30-4:30 p.m.
ADMISSION: $3.50 for adults and $2.50 for children (under six gets in free)
Editor’s note: The Bidenharn Coca-Cola Museum will be closed Christmas and New Year’s Day.