I've been thinking about all the places I want to go see and experience once we're able to travel again, and also taking time to reflect on the highlights of some previous trips, like Atlanta. (The piece below was previously published on Atlas Obscura. You can see it here.)
One of corporate America's best-kept secrets is also one of the most publicly displayed.
As far as trade secrets and intellectual property go, it’s hard to think of a better-known example than the formula upon which Asa Griggs Candler made his fizzy fortune. In 1888, Candler bought the Coca-Cola brand and formula from pharmacist John Stith Pemberton and launched what has become the largest beverage company in the world.
While the formula itself is kept safe, the safe that holds the original written recipe is displayed prominently within Atlanta’s World of Coca-Cola museum. The formula was moved from its former location at SunTrust Bank in downtown Atlanta as the capstone to the company’s 125th anniversary.
The formula, which passed from Pemberton to Candler to Ernest Woodruff and a group of investors, wasn’t committed to paper until 1919 when it was used as collateral for the loan that Woodruff and his colleagues secured for the purchase of the company. The formula remained in a vault in the Guaranty Bank in New York until the loan was repaid in 1925, at which point it was moved to the Trust Company Bank (now SunTrust). The current vault is the central part of an exhibit within the museum. To be clear, visitors are welcome to view the vault, but you won’t be able to see the formula itself unless you buy the company.