I took my daughter to Atlanta, Georgia, last week. We had an incredible time together and discovered that Atlanta is a really fun city to visit. We went to the Georgia Aquarium and Stone Mountain and the Martin Luther King Historical Site.
But the weirdest thing in Atlanta is The World of Coca-Cola. Located in the heart of downtown, the World of Coca-Cola is nothing less than bizarre. The closest analogy I can make to describing this experience is being indoctrinated into a strange, fizzy, corn syrupy cult.
We paid our $16 each, and entered the welcome chamber. The 20 foot high walls were covered top to bottom with Coca-Cola advertising from across the ages and around the world. There, a Coca-Cola priestess introduced us to some of the sect's primary principals: Peace, Love, and above all, Happiness. We were told we would now watch a 7 minute orientation film.
In the film, strange non-human characters taught us to "try new things" and "be in the now."
After we watched the film, we were invited to view the inner-sanctum, also known as the Vault, wherein is kept the Holy writ containing the sacred recipe. We waited with the other converts, surrounded with displays explaining the need for secrecy. Our photos taken, our bodies digitally scanned, we were now permitted to enter the Holy Place.
A 360 degree film depicted the inside of a cola glass filling with ice and soda, as we stood in the middle of it, and listened to Donald Sutherland recite the holy rites officially baptizing us. Then the screens parted and we were allowed to view the Vault, the Holy of Holies if you will. But we were not permitted to enter, of course, for only the High Priest may do so.
From there, we spent an hour surrounded by imagery and artifacts, all declaring one thing:
The message we were to embrace was, and I quote: "Above all, Coca-Cola evokes a passion for living."
Then we were taken to the tasting room. Like every top-level cult, we needed to sip the punch. And there were 60 to choose from, from every corner of the world. We were given a bottle of cola to take home with us, and then asked to leave through the gift store where many new initiates and novices were paying their own money to purchase shirts and caps emblazoned with the Coca-Cola logo to assist in their own proselytizing efforts.
However, Maggie and I looked at each other and said the same thing:
I prefer Pepsi.
Interesting side note: Coca-Cola gets its name in part from its use of the coca leaf, which gave it quite a cocaine infused kick. Pepsi got its name from its use of pepsin to aid in digestion. I'm more of a pepsin kind of guy.