The Herald-Dispatch file photo This photo of the Huntington Coca-Cola plant was taken in 1940.

Editor's note: This is the 55th in a series of articles recalling vanished Huntington landmarks.

HUNTINGTON -- In 1886, Atlanta pharmacist John Pemberton originated Coca-Cola as a patent medicine, allegedly good for just about anything that ailed you headaches, stomach problems, whatever. It proved a hit with early customers but Pemberton lacked the cash to capitalize on that popularity. Two years later, he sold the formula to a businessman by the name of Asa G. Candler, who invested in advertising and began peddling Pemperton's creation in a larger area.

But what really made Coca-Cola a huge success was a happy accident. By mistake, a drugstore clerk mixed it with carbonated water rather than the tap water the stores had been using. The result was such a pleasing drink that Candler immediately stopped selling it as a medicine and began promoting it as a refreshing beverage. The rest, as they say, is history.

Originally, Coca-Cola and the many rival soft drinks it inspired was available only as a fountain drink. But before long enterprising businesses began bottling it so customers could take it home to enjoy. One such business was the Huntington Coca-Cola Bottling Co.

Huntington once was home to as many as a half-dozen soft drink bottling plants, but without question the Coca-Cola plant was the city's biggest and busiest. Its building in the 400 block of 3rd Avenue was immediately recognizable by the large stone Coca-Cola logos engraved on its front and side.

The Huntington Coca-Cola franchise was established by Julius Broh in the early 1900s and later headed by his son, Harry "Pat" Broh. Between them, the father and son operated the bottling plant for more than 80 years. In 1984 an out-of-town concern bought the Huntington franchise and almost immediately shut down the bottling operation.

Today, all brands of soft drinks enjoyed by Huntington area customers are bottled or canned elsewhere and shipped here.

Huntington's old Coca-Cola plant building is still standing and has had various tenants over the years. The building's big stone Coca-Cola logos are still there, highly visible reminders of the era when the plant turned out thousands of bottles of the popular soft drink every day.


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