Chattanooga is the home of the world’s first franchised bottler of Coca-Cola. It was sold as a fountain drink for more than a decade prior. But what made Chattanooga key to Coke’s success were two persistent and entrepreneurial men; Ben Thomas and Joe Whitehead, who convinced Asa Candler in Atlanta to grant perpetual bottling rights. In July of 1899, a simple 600-word contract was signed.
Whitehead secured capital with John T. Lupton, who had married into the wealthy Patten family, owers of the Chattanooga Medicine Company. A franchise bottling model was developed, creating ‘parent bottlers’ who would buy syrup from their ‘first line’ bottling operation in Chattanooga – giving birth to one of the most innovative, dynamic franchising systems in the world.
In 1886, what would later evolve into Coca-Cola was created by an Atlanta pharmacist, Dr. John S. Pemberton. This was the age of 'patent medicines' pitched as fixes for various ailments. Pemberton’s precursor to Coca-Cola was marketed as ‘Coca Wine’- with alcohol, kola nut (caffeine source), and coca. Temperance legislation forced a new formulation without alcohol. By 1899, cocaine had been removed as well under direction by Asa Candler, president of Coca-Cola Company.
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The 2nd & Broad Street location was considered one of the most modern in the country.
1904 local plant capacity was quoted as 22,000 cases per year.
1937, this facility was producing 1.3 million cases a year.
In 2016, a $67 million distribution center and regional headquarters was opened here with a production capacity of 13 million cases a year.
If Coca-Cola’s fortunes were visualized as a family tree – a substantial branch would occupy Chattanooga for over a century and into the future. A few memorable names and organizations who have benefitted from Coca-Cola Bottling fortunes include Lupton, Patten, Probasco, Hunter, Johnston, The Benwood and Lyndhurst Foundations.
The Chattanooga News, Feb 28, 1938
The sales and delivery department and fleet of trucks of the Chattanooga Coca-Cola Bottling Company, Inc., which delivers to Chattanooga and surrounding territory, is shown above. In the picture, left to right, are:
201 Broad Street - 2021 vs. 1938
If you boys fail in this undertaking, don't come back to cry on my shoulder, because I have very little confidence in this bottling business.
2111 W Shepherd Rd, Chattanooga