Note: The following is one of a series of columns looking at the origins and growth of the agriculture industry in Southeast Georgia and Bulloch County.
In 1894, Statesboro merchant J. Fields began selling soda waters in his New York Bargain Store in Statesboro. Fields and Dempse Barnes shortly thereafter opened Fields and Barnes Bottling Works plant in Statesboro.
The April 19, 1901 Statesboro News reported that J.F. Fields now wished “to state that I have bought of Mr. B.P. Maul the Statesboro Bottling Works and Ice Business.”
Cone and Parker's Ice and Bottling Company opened in Brooklet. The Statesboro News of June 20, 1902 announced “Keep Cool at Parker & Smith’s Old Stand.
On April 10, 1903, the Statesboro News revealed “Mr. Dempse Barnes bought (out) Mr. J.F. Fields and (owned) the Statesboro Bottling Works, “makers of High-Grade Soda Water, All Flavors...The Best on the Market!”
After Fields sold his interest in the Statesboro plant to Barnes, he began working with Cone and Parker to sell his newest beverage: Sea Island Ginger Ale.
In an Aug. 18, 1903 Statesboro News ad, placed by S. Landrum George, the owner of the Statesboro Ice and Manufacturing Company informed his clients that he had “High-Grade Soda Waters, all Flavors.”
He promised his customers that “The Ingredients used in the manufactures of our sodas are of the finest qualities.” Customers, he said, were welcome at the “Factory located at the S&S (Railroad) Depot.”
Then, in the Statesboro News of Aug. 21, 1903, D. Barnes & Co. warned “If it’s sour water you want to put off on your customers, see the other fellow. We Make only first-class goods.”
Continuing, “Our reputation for making the best “Soda Water” is too well-established to need any boasting. The prices are always as reasonable as good goods can be sold, and you can depend on them.”
A Columbus pharmacist, Claude Hatcher, created a soda water drink he called "Cher’o-Cola" at the Hatcher Grocery Company in 1905, and formed the Union Bottling Works to sell his soda.
Mr. Hughes of Stillmore opened Statesboro’s own Cher’o Cola plant shortly thereafter. Managed by J.S. Rouse, it was located by the Statesboro, Augusta and Northern Railway tracks near Ollie Brannen’s General Store.
Already a best-selling soda in Statesboro and throughout Georgia, its popularity spread across the entire Southeastern United States. After legal wrangling with Coca-Cola, Chero Cola became Royal Crown Cola in 1933.
In the Bulloch Times edition of May 6, 1915, the Statesboro Coca-Cola Bottling Company advertised “Coca-Cola And Soda Water. The summer season is at hand, and cool drinks will be in demand.”
And, “For picnics and outings, nothing is as good as our line of cool drinks — Coca-Cola and soda water of every kind. Excellent also for family use at all times.”
The Statesboro Herald announced on March 21, 1957 that the Coca Cola Company had decided to come out with a new "King-Size" 12-ounce bottle, which would be released in select areas on March 28.
Coca Cola was already available in the "Standard" 6 ½-ounce size glass bottle. J.F. Harbour, Gen. Mgr. of the Statesboro Bottling Company, announced Statesboro being included in this preview was a great honor.
This was such a big deal that one Coca Cola executive was quoted in the Atlanta papers that "Bringing out another bottle was almost like being unfaithful to your wife."
Roger Allen is a local lover of history who provides a brief look each week at the area's past. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.