Chattanooga Coca-Cola Celebrates 120th Birthday

The World’s First Coca-Cola Bottler marks the occasion with Festivities throughout the area for Employees, Customers and the Community

Chattanooga, TN – July 22, 2019 – Chattanooga Coca-Cola – the world’s first Coca-Cola bottler – is celebrating 120 years of refreshing consumers!

“Chattanooga Coca-Cola, its employees and this community have an indelible and enviable place in history as the first bottler of one of the world’s most iconic brands,” said John Sherman, president and CEO of Coca-Cola Bottling Company UNITED, the Birmingham-based company that purchased the Chattanooga franchise back in 1924.  “Inside every bottle of Coca-Cola throughout the world, there’s a little bit of Chattanooga.”

The 120th birthday celebration includes a series of events over the course of a week that celebrate the deep ties between the city, its cultural venues and the iconic brand.   These include cookouts at each of the five Chattanooga Coca-Cola locations for associates and their families; visits by the antique Coca-Cola truck to the offices of local community and government officials; and special engagements and promotions with local retail customers and partners, such as the Aquarium, Rock City, Ruby Falls, Creative Discovery Museum, Lake Winnie,  and a Coke fan day at AT&T Field with the Chattanooga Lookouts.

“Our 120th birthday events are first and foremost a celebration of our people and their families, since they are the foundation and the drivers of what we do each and every day to serve our customers, their consumers and our communities,” said Darren Hodges, Tennessee Valley division director for Coca-Cola UNITED, who has been with the company for more than three decades.  “We are blessed with the best associates, excellent business partners and customers, and local government and community leaders who have supported our success for more than a century.”

Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke said, “Chattanooga is a city of creators and that power of creation dates back to 1899 when Coca-Cola was first bottled right here in our city.   I’m proud Coca-Cola has remained a staple in our community for so long.”

Chattanooga Chamber, Chattanooga Coca-Cola 120th Birthday
L-R: Jack Sherman, Sales Center Manager, Chattanooga Coca-Cola; Stan Ellington, Vice President- Supply Chain, Coca-Cola UNITED; Bo Taylor, Vice President-Central Region, Coca-Cola UNITED; Mike Churchwell, Chattanooga Coca-Cola; Mayor Andy Berke, Chattanooga, Tennessee; Darren Hodges, Division Director, Tennessee Valley Division of Coca-Cola UNITED; Virginia Walker Jones, Board Member, Coca-Cola UNITED; Terri Sherman with John Sherman, President & CEO, Coca-Cola UNITED

Hamilton County Mayor Jim Coppinger said, “Some of my happiest childhood memories are sitting down with a Coca-Cola, an experience shared by millions over the last 120 years.  Coca-Cola has been a vital part of Hamilton County’s history in terms of jobs and community involvement. We are proud of our legacy as Coca-Cola’s first bottler and smile every time we drive by the new Coca-Cola facility on Highway 153 that continues to employ hundreds of local workers. We look forward to decades more of folks sitting down with a Coke and a smile.”


L-R: Darren Hodges, local Chattanoogan and Division Director, Tennessee Valley Division, Coca-Cola UNITED; Bo Taylor, Vice President-Central Region, Coca-Cola UNITED; Mike Churchwell, Chattanooga Coca-Cola;  Mayor Jim Coppinger, Hamilton County, Tennessee; Jack Sherman, Sales Center Manager, Chattanooga Coca-Cola; John Sherman, President & CEO, Coca-Cola UNITED

Today, there are more than 750 Coca-Cola employees working out of the Chattanooga-based Tennessee Valley Division for Coca-Cola UNITED.  There are five locations in the greater Chattanooga area, including:  two manufacturing facilities (located on Amnicola Highway and in Cleveland, TN); a sales and distribution center (on West Shepherd Road); and two warehouses (on Wisdom Street and Stuart Street).

“Our entire Coca-Cola family celebrates with Coca-Cola Chattanooga as it marks its 120th birthday,” said Jim Dinkins, president, Coca-Cola North America. “As the first Coca-Cola bottler, Coca-Cola Chattanooga will always be a special part of our heritage and will continue to be a thriving part of the local community, refreshing Chattanoogans for years to come.”

Bottling of Coca-Cola originated in Chattanooga in 1899, when Chattanooga attorneys Benjamin F. Thomas and Joseph B. Whitehead signed an agreement with Asa Candler, president of the Coca-Cola Company, to receive exclusive rights to bottle the soft drink throughout most of the United States. Fellow Chattanooga attorney John T. Lupton soon became the third partner to help finance the first bottling plant in Chattanooga. By September 1899, the plant had opened at 17 Market Street, and the first advertisement appeared offering the soft drink in bottles. The venture took “Coke” from the southern drugstore counter and made it a national and international drink.  The rest is history…

Chattanooga Coca-Cola’s history is truly worth celebrating; however, its future is just as bright.  In March of 2016, Coca-Cola Bottling Company UNITED opened a new, 305,000 square-foot facility in Chattanooga near the airport and in the Shepherd community.  The $67 million, state-of-the-art facility expanded Chattanooga Coca-Cola’s historic distribution reach to now include Dalton, Ga., and Scottsboro, Ala., and in 2017, a production facility in Cleveland, Tennessee, joined the company’s Tennessee Valley territory.

“120 years is a huge milestone for Coca-Cola Bottling, a longstanding employer in our community with a unique story depicting how innovation has thrived in Chattanooga for decades,”said Christy Gillenwater, President & CEO of the Chattanooga Chamber of Commerce. “We’re proud to have partnered with them to support their growth over the years and know they’ll continue to thrive.

Chattanooga kicks off their 120th celebration visiting great people and partners>


About Coca-Cola Bottling Company UNITED, Inc.

Coca-Cola Bottling Company United, Inc., founded in 1902 and headquartered in Birmingham, Alabama, is the second largest privately held Coca-Cola bottler in North America and the fourth largest bottler of Coca-Cola products in the U.S.  Coca-Cola UNITED has approximately 10,000 associates located in more than 60 facilities across six southeastern states (Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee).  Historically significant franchises within our Coca-Cola UNITED family include Chattanooga, the world’s first Coca-Cola bottler; Atlanta, home of the worldwide Coca-Cola System; and Columbus, Georgia, development site of the original Coca-Cola formula.

 Coca-Cola UNITED is engaged in the production, marketing and distribution of a diverse portfolio of leading sparkling (Coca-Cola®, Diet Coke®, Coke Zero Sugar®, Dr Pepper®, Sprite® and Fanta®) and still (smartwater®, Dasani®, POWERADE®, BODYARMOR®, fairlife®, Gold Peak®, Monster® and Minute Maid®) non-alcoholic brands under exclusive franchise agreements principally with The Coca-Cola Company® and Keurig Dr Pepper®.

 For more than a century, Coca-Cola UNITED has remained true to its foundational core values of: Quality, Excellence, Integrity and Respect.  Local relationships, personalized customer service, and strong community engagement are the foundation.  Each year, millions of dollars are invested in our local communities, supporting education, community development and nonprofit organizations that empower and impact those in need.


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