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Glory days of Columbia bottling plants interest many collectors

Top valued items are My Coca bottles from Nell & Son and any of the five flavors from Grapette Bottling carry a slight premium, going for around $10-12. Some Dr. Pepper plant bottles go for $10-$20, collectors Doug Janes and Mike Schorman say.
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By Ed Waggener

For the past few weeks, a number of articles have appeared in CM centered around the production, in Columbia, of "My Coca," a drink which had some cocaine in it and was similar in taste to early Coca-Cola.

Since that time, two collectors, Doug Janes and Mike Schorman, have given an update on the existence of memorabilia, including "My Coca" bottles, and artifacts from several of the other bottling companies which were headquartered here.

Janes owns two of the My Coca bottles, and has a collection of several other keepsake bottles from other bottling plants which operated here

He and Schorman said that there are a number of other collectors in the area, including Jeff Potts, Joe Moore, Lilburn Roy, Leon Lewis, Leon Huff, Winston Bennett, Louis Reeves, Charles Shirley, Donald Gene Burton, and Harold Burton, and Clifton Aaron of Campbellsville, and Roger Barnes of Russell County.

Among the plants Janes and Schorman could number were the W.E. Harris Bottle Works, Nell & Son, Columbia Bottling Co., Grapette Bottling Company, and the two Dr. Pepper plants, which operated during part of their history, at the same time. The old plant, on Fortune ST, was operated by Rives Kerbow, one time Mayor of Columbia. His competitor was Columbia Attorney Earl Huddleston, whose plant was at 704 Jamestown ST, where Jeffries Hardware Co. is today.

Quite a number of brands were bottled here, including the best known, Dr. Pepper, as well as 2-Way, Sun Crest and Circle A.The Grapette plant turned out fruit drinks in several flavors in a little plant on the west side of the road between the Columbia City Cemetery and Town Creek. Among the flavors in the little 6 oz. bottles were Orangette, Grapette, Limette, Lemonette, and Cherryette, they remember being told. The value of old Grapette Bottling bottles from Columbia ranges from $10-12.

The Nell & Son bottles can be worth more. Fruit flavored drink bottles, according to Janes' and Schorman's understanding, are in the $5-50 range, but the My Coca bottles can run from $100-150 - and up.

Most people in the area say that the top expert on soft drink bottling is Jodie DeSpain of Greensburg, KY. Adair County native Russell Montgomery, retired manager of the Campbellsville Coca-Cola Bottling Plant, is a recognized authority on Coca-Cola memorabilia.

The tidbit which started current round of interest

Several articles have appeared about soft drinks, which started with this item in an article, 100 years ago, March 16, 1910 in The News by "Jim". It referred to an advertisement found on page eight of that edition of the News, read thus:

Columbia, Kentucky,

contract bottlers of


'My-Cola' is made from the Original Coca-Cola formula. We also make a full line of pops and drinks including Grape, Cascade, Ginger Ale, and the leading Soda Pops."

Later, Marlton Loy questioned whether the ad read "My Cola," or "My Coca" in this letter: Was it My Cola, or My Coca drunk in 1910?

"Jim" clarified the first story, noting that the drink was, indeed, "My Coca," in this article.JIM: My-Cola or My Coca? wherein orther unmuddies the waters

And BJ Fudge sent a note about the inclusion of cocaine in the early drinks in this letter: BJ Fudge: De-dopification of drink came just 108 years ago

Dan Phillips, noted a citation on a lawsuit which suppressed the operations of "My Coca" franchisees in this letter:Dan Phillips research turns up interesting My Coca findings

And, we hope, this is not the last CM readers will hear of read on the subject. Comments are welcome, using the Contact Form with this story. -EW

This story was posted on 2011-06-05 17:28:38
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Columbia, KY bottled soft drinks: Doug Janes with 2-Way

2011-06-05 - Fortune ST, Columbia, KY - Photo by Ed Waggener.
Columbia painting contractor Doug Janes is one of several bottle collectors in the Columbia, KY area: Above he holds two bottles from his collection. The amber bottle on the left is a "My Coca" bottle, which was bottled by Nell & Son, in the basement of the building which now houses M & P Variety Store, 210 Public Square. The other is 2-Way, a drink very similar in taste to 7-Up, which was bottled in a plant in the 100 E. Block of Fortune ST, where the Fortune & Reed ST City Parking lot is today.

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Nell & Son, My Coca bottles

2011-06-06 - from 210 Public Square, Columbia, KY - Photo by Ed Waggener.
Collector Doug Janes owns these two "My Coca" bottles from the old Nell & Sons bottling company, Columbia, KY. The bottles were found in the basement of 210 Public Square, when Mike Stephens owned the building. Mr. Stephens gave the bottles to Doug Janes. The bottoms of the bottles had a large "N." The bottles held 6.5 fluid ounces. A My Coca plant was also operated at one time by W.E. Harris in the Russell & Co. Building on the Square. Bottles from that plant may be more rare. Mr. Janes wouldn't estimate a value for them, but thought the Nell & Sons bottles might be valued in the $100-$150 range.

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2 Way, similar to 7-Up, was bottled in Columbia, KY

2011-06-06 - From Dr. Pepper Bottling Co., Fortune ST, Columbia, KY - Photo by Ed Waggener.
Two-Way was the Dr. Pepper Bottling Co.'s answer to 7-Up. It was lemon-lime flavored. The name came from its uses: 1) As a Ritzy Mixer, and 2) As an Excellent Straight Drink. Doug Janes and Mike Schorman believe this bottle is from the newer plant on Jamestown ST, the one located in what is now Jeffries Hdw., because "COLUMBIA, KY" is molded in a circle, whereas the bottles from the old Dr. Pepper Plant, on Fortune ST, had the town name in a straight line, in the center of the circle. Earl Huddleston, et al, owned the new Dr. Pepper plant; Rives Kerbow was the last owner of the old plant, which was started by his father. At one time, both plants were in operation at the same time.

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Remember all the 'Ettes we drank in the mid 1900s

2011-06-06 - from Campbellsville ST plant - Photo by Ed Waggener.
Doug Janes holds two of the bottles from the Grapette Bottling Company, which was located on Campbellsville ST, just beyond the Columbia Cemetery. The little 6 fluid ounce bottles came in five flavors: Orangette and Lemonette, shown above, and Grapette, Limette, and Cherryette. Janes thinks these bottles have a value of $10-12. Most from the Grapette era will remember Miss Mary Lucy Lowe warning, in her General Science Classes at Adair County High School, against drinking Grape soft drinks. "They are made with chemicals, with artificial flavors," she would warn. Comments about plants era, ownership, workers are welcome," using the Comments button with this photo.

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Nu-Grape was bottled by Dr. Pepper plant here

2011-06-06 - Photo by Ed Waggener.
Three kinds of Nu-Grape bottles are in Doug Janes' collection. The clear bottle on the left is from the old Dr. Pepper plant, he believes; the center bottle is from the plant on Jamestown Hill. The one on the right, with red lettering, has been the hardest one to find, Mr. Janes said.

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Front and Back of old glass Dr. Pepper bottles

2011-06-06 - Photo by Ed Waggener.
A Good for Life clear Dr. Pepper bottle, probably came from the old, Kerbow owned Dr. Pepper plant on Fortune Street. The slogan "Good for Life" was one used in the 1940's, according to Wikipedia. On the back of the bottle was the most familiar Dr. Pepper logo, the clock face with 10, 2, and 4, indicating the recommended times of the day to drink the beverage. The bottles above are part of Doug Janes' Collection.

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Sun Crest bottles from new Dr. Pepper plant

2011-06-07 - Columbia, KY - Photo From Doug Janes Collection.
Sun Crest fruit flavored drinks came in two sizes. The large size was 10 fluid ounces, the smaller one, 7 fluid ounces. On the right are backs of 7 ounce bottles. Marlton Loy reports that bottles like these are available on eBay for about $14, including shipping. Doug Janes thinks these bottles came from the new Dr. Pepper plant, which operated in the building now occupied by Jeffries Hardware.

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