Atlantic, Iowa – Enjoy a Coke and maybe buy some collectibles


Don’t throw away that souvenir can of Coca-Cola. Hold on to that holiday glass with the Coke logo on it. There is likely a buyer for those things.

Hundreds of Coca-Cola collectors and sellers gathered in Atlantic, Iowa, over the weekend. They meet in the “Coca-Cola Capital of Iowa” annually on the last weekend of September. They visit about everything Coca-Cola. Atlantic, Iowa

They have a tailgate party Friday night at the Rock Island railroad depot, which is also home to the city’s chamber of commerce. They have a “Show, Swap and Sell” gathering on Saturday at the Herring Building, which is also known as the local Coke distributor’s warehouse.

We walked through the swap and sell market. It was interesting to see the different collectibles made by and for Coca-Cola. From old bottles and cans to clothing, vendors were on hand to sell and buy.

Atlantic, Iowa

We saw some small plastic footballs with team logos on them, such as the Minnesota Vikings. There were pins, pens, playing cards, glasses, mugs, etc. We saw framed puzzles featuring Coke. Stuffed animals, such as the famous polar bears and even penguins, were on hand.

Coke in Atlantic, Iowa

One woman from St. Paul, MN, even dressed as a Coke can. She later marched in a parade.

Coke in Atlantic, Iowa

Lisa bought the last short-sleeved T-shirt with the 2014 convention logo: Coca-Cola: Born in the USA. Coca-Cola Days: Born in Atlantic, Iowa.

The parade concludes the 2-day event. The parade consists of a couple of Coca-Cola distributor semis and trailers, antique car, local police department, and other locals. Little kids lined up next to the main street to get candy that some parade participants tossed out.

Coke parade in Atlantic, Iowa

The parade was not very big. There were not many people watching it. I guess, based on parades I have watched, I expected a larger one, with at least one marching band and larger floats. The parade wasn’t a bad one; it was just smaller than my expectations.

Gymnast does a flip during the parade
Gymnast does a flip during the parade

The Atlantic convention is the second largest in the United States. Only Atlanta’s is larger. The Georgia capital is the corporate home of Coca-Cola. This was the 21st annual Atlantic gathering.

It’s obvious that Atlantic is proud of its connection to Coke. As you enter town, a sign in the shape of the state welcomes you to Atlantic: Coca-Cola capital of Iowa.

Atlantic, Iowa

Atlantic is the exclusive Coca-Cola distributor for Nebraska and Iowa. The Tyler family has owned the rights for Coke distribution in the area since the 1920s.

The city has the third-largest museum devoted to Coca-Cola. Atlanta has the largest. The Coke Bottle in Las Vegas is considered the second largest. Atlantic, Iowa Coke Center and Museum

The museum was interesting to visit. It had so many things Coke. From old bottles to T-shirts from previous conventions, the museum had so much to look at.

Coke Museum in Atlantic, IowaThe museum has a large collection of old pop bottles with names of towns embosomed on the bottom. There were towns scattered throughout the country, as well as several regional locales, including Omaha.

The museum is only opened two hours a week, from 1-3 p.m. on Saturdays. It’s mainly because they don’t have enough volunteers to staff it. If interested in visiting the museum, the drive to Atlantic would be worth it on a Saturday afternoon.

Coke Museum in Atlantic, Iowa

Outside the museum, there are Coke-related murals scattered throughout downtown. It made for a nice walk through town, while waiting for the parade to start.

Coke mural in Atlantic, Iowa

In addition to the Coca-Cola-related attractions, we stopped at Bonnesen’s. It’s the local general merchandise store, aka five and dime. It had an assortment of items for sale. Checking out the toy section brought back some childhood memories. Uehling, NE, had a similar store we would shop at when we lived in Oakland.

Bonnesen's Five and Dime in Atlantic, Iowa

While in town, grab a meal at Oinkers. It sells pork burgers in the shape of pigs. The prices are very reasonable – less than $7 for a cheeseburger. The service staff was very nice. Our waitress brought out a raw burger, so we could get a better picture of the pig-shaped pork burger.

Oinkers was the first restaurant in the United States to serve 7-Up.

So, remember, keep all your Coca-Cola items and maybe we’ll see you at next year’s Coca-Cola Days.