This past weekend I had the good fortune to visit Atlanta, Georgia. It was a long weekend, and we were there for a really unique opportunity – to be on the Family Feud! That’s right, ON the Famly Feud – what a riot! It was a weekend full of firsts – meeting Steve Harvey, being in a studio audience with the whole family, and also getting some extra time to tour Atlanta and see the sights.
The Georgia Aquarium is the biggest in the world, and it lived up to expectations. There were amazing chances to view and interact with sea life, and they did a fabulous job of keeping the focus on teaching respect for these creatures and teaching how much we can do to help protect them. Sadly, there was zero focus on the effect of dietary choices, but nonetheless they got their messages across effectively. A scene in one of the movies showed a baby dolphin trapped by the littered plastic of a six-pack of cans. He was separated from his family and while the other fish helped pull him free, it was a great image to remind people of what happens to their trash if they don’t take care of it.
Centennial Park was neat to see (site of the ’96 Olympics), and we enjoyed some fabulous restaurants. Warning – there are loads of hidden animal products in southern cooking! Only 1/3 of the veggie side dishes on the menu at famous Mary Macs were vegetarian. A few were vegan and they were fabulous, but it was an odd thing to find out that simple side dishes like green beans, peas, and squash weren’t even vegetarian – because they cook them in pig fat. Gross!!
And then there was the World of Coca-Cola. Wow. Now despite the fact that my family and I are all relatively intelligent people, and we like to make sure that money spent is worthwhile. And you’d think that our interest in health would make it weird to visit the World of Coca-Cola given the opportunity and the $16 per person ticket fee. It sure did make it weird, but we decided there was surely much we could learn about the history, the evolution, the constant reinvention, and everything fascinating behind Coca-Cola. Surely some of the most brilliant marketing minds of our time have been involved with the success of this brand. How many other brands established in 1886 are known worldwide today? It beats McDonalds by half a century! (God help me if there’s a World of McDonalds. If it exists, please don’t tell me about it!)
Anyway, there were enough potentially redeeming reasons to justify our ticket purchase. And then we went inside. From start to finish we were continually underwhelmed and disappointed with the poor taste of the whole place! It was room after room of shameless promotion, and smoke and mirrors. Literally – there were smoke and mirrors surrounding The Vault where the secret recipe for Coke is supposedly kept. There were 2D and 4D movies of such low caliber, you’d think the local college freshmen threw it together for a marketing project.
What was most disturbing of all was the unbelievably undisguised target – kids. 100% of the World of Coca-Cola was designed to appeal to children. They had photos with the polar bear, the penguin, and the other Coca-Cola characters you wouldn’t know unless you were a child. The movies were all animated with cartoon characters playing in a happy land of Coke. The exhibits and activities were all targeting children.
To think about the problems of childhood and adult obesity and all of the subsequent diseases, it’s astonishing that a company can legally sell soft drinks at all, much less under the guise of calling them health drinks. It would be more fair to consumers to put a surgeon general’s warning on the bottle disclaiming the link to obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.
One thing I did learn is that Coke is everywhere! The number of brands owned by Coca-Cola is almost double the large number I thought it was. From water to juice to other sodas, Coca-Cola is behind almost any bottled beverage you can find (Minute Maid, Vitamin Water, Smart Water, Odwalla, Tab, etc)! I’ve never been a big soda drinker, so giving up coke a while back was no big deal. However, I’m setting out to be an even more conscious consumer going forward. In my newly opened eyes, supporting Coca-Cola and its brands is (healthwise) every bit as bad as supporting the factory farming industry. They won’t be receiving any of my dollars any more!
We were all impacted by this visit to the World of Coca-Cola – impacted to quit drinking it for good! Now that’s well worth the price of admission!