So, my in-laws are in town for the weekend (that’s not the story, my in-laws are fabulous,) so we decided to take them to the most important place in all of Atlanta: The World of Coke. We’d never been, since they want $15 per ticket, (and yet the Budweiser brewery tour is free…and they give you beer at the end,) but with family in town we got a City Pass and planned a full weekend of tourism.
The short version? World of Coke is a creepy rip-off.
The long version?
So we walk in, and the first thing they do is herd you into a room full of Coke memorabilia that they call “The Loft.” We were given a tour of the various Coke souvenirs by an overly perky woman named Nicole who’s voice was only audible to children and dogs. Her shtick was to point out a Coke relic, then to tell the audience, “Everybody say, ‘Woooow.” To which the audience would mumble “Wow,” and I would imagine what it would feel like to stab her in the face.
They then move you into a small movie theater. The feature presentation? “Inside the Happiness Factory.” This Pixar-esqe (probably Pixar created, for that matter,) short gives us the chance to hear the testimonies of all the little imaginary creatures that live inside of a Coke machine. The voices of construction workers, a cheerleader, a large black woman, a Swedish couple, and a decidedly gay man share with the audience how special Coke is, how it brings happiness to their lives, and makes everything better. I kept looking around to see when they were going to start passing out white robes and Kool-aid.
Finally, the movie ends, and in a decidedly Willy-Wonk-like move the screen rises up to reveal a hallway. Follow it, and you will find “The Hub,” which is apparently “the heart and soul of the World of Coke.” The Hub features four different exhibits that you can explore. One is a history of Coca-Cola. Well, their version of the history. It doesn’t mention the fact that Coke was originally created for medicinal use, nor does it mention that the original recipe included cocaine. It does, however, mention that Coke was apparently the reason that America won WWII, and spends a great deal of time discussing the grassroots movements and campaigns to return Coke to its original recipe in the 1980’s. (Seriously, did people have nothing better to do? Surely there were more important issues to be fighting for than than our soda pop.) Other rooms off The Hub were a bottling plant that wasn’t working, a display of pop art featuring Coke, and a screening room in which you could watch every Coke commercial ever made. All were overly cheery and made waaaaay too much of Coke’s contribution to society.
After all that, we finally made our way to the Tasting Room. This is the end of the tour where you can taste all the different Coke products from all over the world. We tasted the Asian pops, (which all tasted like a Jolly Rancher dropped in a glass of water,) the Latin American pops, (waaaay too sweet,) and the North American pops, (which resemble the soda fountain at any Long John Silver,) before moving on to the European pops. Hidden among them, bearing plain blue background, is Beverly, written in plain white letters. What we guessed would taste like cream soda, or maybe a light Sprite.
Yeah, it tasted like after-barf. You know when you’ve been barfing your guts out all day, and there’s nothing left in your stomach so you’re just barfing up stomach acid? That’s what this pop tasted like. It was the most vial substance every created for the consumption of man, and is apparently extremely popular in Italy. I was forced to sprint across the room with my tongue out crying, “EN! EN! EN!” before I was able to wash the taste away with some South American Fanta. (Which is actually pretty good.) I then proceeded to spend the next 20 minutes standing by the Beverly machine and watching other people drink it. By the time I left, there was a pretty good crowd gathered, bonding not over the great taste of Coca-Cola, but how nauseating Beverly was.
Wow. I guess I was wrong. Coca-Cola does bring us closer together. Especially when it’s to watch a fat red-headed kid vomit on an old lady’s shoes.