The Seed is Planted (A History)
In 1894, Joseph A. Biedenharn, a country businessman in Vicksburg, Mississippi and owner of the Biedenharn Candy Company, made a world changing decision. In order for his customers outside downtown Vicksburg to have Coca-Cola, he had his brother Herman put Coca-Cola into Biedenharn bottles, making the Biedenharn Candy Company the first to ever bottle Coca-Cola. Today, Coca-Cola is sold in more than 200 countries.
Under Joe's leadership, his brothers, sons, and grandsons, established plants in Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas, and Arkansas eventually becoming the ninth largest bottling corporation in the United States.
Joe Biedenharn was not defined by his accomplishment of bottling Coca-Cola. Joe was also a vital part of the community of Monroe in the early 20th century. His kind, gentle, and charismatic personality enabled him to become elected City Commissioner. As City Commissioner, Joe paved the first streets in Monroe and helped transform Forsythe Park from a fairground to the park we see today.
Biedenharn Museum & Gardens gives visitors a look at one of the most interesting Coca Cola museums around, with rooms full of memorabilia, including the first Coca-Cola delivery truck, which delivered Biedenharn bottles filled with Coke in the 1890s.
A Note from Ralph Calhoun, Executive Director
Welcome to the BiedenharnSharing. I think that is what we do best at the Biedenharn Museum & Gardens, and it dates back many years before the institution was ever thought of. Mr. Joe Biedenharn developed an innovative, yet simple idea, taking Coca-Cola out of a fountain and putting it in a bottle so he could share the drink with customers who could not get into town to purchase Coke at his confectionary. Joe’s daughter Emy-Lou shared her God-given vocal talent with audiences in concert halls in the US and in Europe during an almost ten-year career.Upon return to her beloved Monroe, she began to share her love of gardens, Bibles, classical music and much more as she created the Bible Museum, ELsong Gardens, and the Emy-Lou Biedenharn Foundation. The board and staff of the Biedenharn Foundation continue to celebrate this same kind of sharing through a charitable giving program and the many programs of the Biedenharn Museum & Gardens.On behalf of all of us, I invite you to visit the Biedenharn Museum & Gardens and take part in all we offer. After you discover what a wonderful place it is, I hope you will share it with others.Sincerely,Ralph E. Calhoun, Executive DirectorEmy-Lou Biedenharn Foundation/Biedenharn Museum & GardensPlan your trip to one of America’s most interesting Coca-Cola museums and one of Louisiana’s finest gardens!