Flashback Friday Moment of The Week: 7/3/2020

by Juan Thomas
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As I was leaving work for the extended Independence Day weekend yesterday afternoon, I stopped by the convenience store that we have inside of the Stewart Lee Udall Department of the Interior Building. They had cans of orange vanilla Coca-Cola. For me, orange vanilla Coke sightings in the United States are as rare as Fanta Melon. I haven’t seen or tasted the beverage since December 2014, when I last visited the World of Coca-Cola in Atlanta. That brings me to this week’s moment in the Flashback Friday series: the Pemberton Place World of Coca-Cola visit.

How I first came across this moment? By pure coincidence, I visited the World of Coca-Cola at its Pemberton Place location on July 3…in 2009. I was visiting the United States during a month-long period of military leave from my assignment in Tokyo. It was a Friday and I was a few days removed from my week on the road in DC, New York City, and Chicago. I didn’t want to spend the day in Birmingham so I took the Midnight Blue Express and made the journey 2 ½ hours east on I-20 to Atlanta. It was all a spur-of-the-moment trip so I kept it confined to the places I knew of in Atlanta: Centennial Olympic Park, Pemberton Place, and Atlantic Station. The World of Coca-Cola was the first stop since it offered free admission.

What it meant to me then? Upon my entry into the World of Coca-Cola, I was quite amazed. It wasn’t my first time visiting the World of Coca-Cola, in general. I actually visited the old location at Underground Atlanta during Mr. Zeigler’s Honors Economics 12 trip in October 2002. This was my first visit to the new location, however. I was fascinated by the venue. I liked the Coca-Cola Theater, where I saw the Moments of Happiness film. I also liked the expansion of The Vault, which included maybe 3 or 4 times more stuff in Pemberton Place than in Underground Atlanta. Of course, the Taste It! exhibit was the highlight of the visit, where I got a chance to taste Coke brands from all over the world.

What it means to me now? I haven’t been to Pemberton Place in 5 ½ years. The World of Coca-Cola doesn’t mean as much to me today as it did during my debut in the new facility back in 2009. The lure for me was the Taste It! exhibit. But now that I have access to all of the Coke brands internationally, I don’t really see the need to visit the facility…for recreational purposes, anyway. On the professional side, there’s some behind-the-scenes stuff that I’d absolutely love to see after having a conversation with the venue’s Facility Manager at IFMA Facility Fusion a couple of years back.

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