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David Lissner
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Chicago put the pop in pop

The Dole Master Dispenser.

The Dole Master Dispenser.

Most people have heard that Coca-Cola was invented by pharmacist John Pemberton in Georgia in 1886, but Chicago’s very important connection to Coke is more obscure. If it weren’t for a Chicago invention, Coke might never have achieved its phenomenal success.

Until 1933, if you ordered a Coke at a soda fountain, your server pumped some syrup into a glass and topped it off with cold seltzer. Although Coca-Cola distributed glassware that showed how much syrup to use, the process still tended to make the drink vary widely from place to place, both in flavor and temperature.

Coke ticket

 

At the Century of Progress Exposition, the Chicago World’s Fair that year, Coca-Cola introduced the first automatic fountain dispenser, which created a well-blended Coke with the pull of a handle. What’s more, the dispenser could be packed with ice, making the perfect “ice-cold Coca-Cola.”

The Coke machine was the product of the Dole Valve Co., 1923-1933 Carroll Ave.. Chicago. The innovation was a huge hit — helped along, no doubt, by the free drinks Coca-Cola dispensed to fair goers. A period advertisement noted, “Again this year — approximately one of every three at Chicago’s Century of Progress Exposition pause and refresh themselves with ice-cold Coca-Cola. In 1933 more than twenty-two million people attended, and at the soda fountains and refreshment stands within the fair grounds more than six million, five hundred thousand drinks of Coca-Cola were served.”

Who knows many millions of fountain Cokes and other carbonated beverages are now served annually out of the dispensers that followed from the Dole Master Dispenser design?