May AveCoca-Cola was first introduced in Oklahoma Territory in 1903…four years before statehood. The bottling rights in Oklahoma City changed hands at least four times in those early days…the records are sketchy. In February of 1922 the franchise was sold again, this time for $130,000 and this time a Coca-Cola family tradition was born.

The new owner, Virgil Browne, a pharmacist, came to Oklahoma City from New Orleans where he had concocted a locally successful orange flavored soft drink named “Squeeze”. Browne and his partners were well pleased with the success of Squeeze, but they reasoned correctly that someday Coca-Cola might be an even better brand.

Fast forward more than 80 years, and the Browne family is still in charge. Squeeze is just a memory, but Great Plains Coca-Cola Bottling Company is now the 7th largest bottler of Coca-Cola in North America. Great Plains employs 1,300 people and produces, distributes, and merchandises Coca-Cola products throughout most of Oklahoma.

Great Plains product line up includes ten varieties of Coca-Cola, six varieties Dr. Pepper, several varieties of Sprite, and numerous varieties of Dasani water, PowerAde sports drinks, Minute Maid Juices, Fanta flavors, Barq’s root beer, Schweppes Mixers, Nestea teas, and Full Throttle energy drinks. Today, Great Plains produces twice as much product in a single day than was produced in the entire year 1922, yet less than 30% of these drinks are sugar colas!

The Coca-Cola legend began on May 8, 1886 when Dr. John Syth Pemberton*, another pharmacist from Atlanta, Georgia stirred up a caramel-colored syrup in a three-legged copper kettle in his own backyard. Delighted by his creation, he took it to the local soda fountain at Jacobs’ Pharmacy where it was first sold. It was proclaimed “Delicious and Refreshing” but it lacked a name.

It was Dr. Pemberton’s partner and bookkeeper, Frank M. Robinson, who decided on “Coca-Cola.” Mr. Robinson decided on the name partly because it said something about the ingredients, but mainly because it contained those two “C’s, thus creating a pleasing and memorable alliteration for future consumers. Robinson then penned the words Coca-Cola in the now familiar Spencerian script, and used what is now the worlds most recognized trademark in its first advertisement in The Atlanta Journal on May 29, 1886.

It was a banker named Asa G. Candler who first recognized Coca-Cola’s potential, when he acquired Dr. Pemberton’s concoction for $2,300 in 1891, and formed The Coca-Cola Company the following year.

In 1894 a candy store owner named Joseph A. Biedenharn came up with the idea of putting Coca-Cola in bottles. He installed the necessary equipment in the back of his Vicksburg, Mississippi, store and began selling Coca-Cola in bottles up and down the Mississippi River. 

Following Biedenharn’s success, two lawyers from Chattanooga, Tennessee approached Candler with the idea of creating franchised bottlers for Coca-Cola. The Company would grant in perpetuity the exclusive rights to put Coca-Cola in bottles and sell it within specific geographical territories. And so began what is now a global network of locally franchised bottler’s of Coca-Cola serving the worlds largest cities and its most remote villages, in more than 150 countries with advertising in more than 135 languages.

For over 110 years, as they have helped to develop the Coca-Cola brand and further their own businesses, Coca-Cola bottlers from areas all over the world have made sure to give back to their respective communities. Great Plains Coca-Cola is no exception; as a prominent member of its region, the company has maintained a strong commitment and focus on its own community, donating time, energy, and resources. Great Plains associates are involved in a broad array of community activities and initiatives, helping every day to improve education, to aid local charities, and to strengthen the neighborhoods and cities they serve.

Bottle Line
“It’s the Real Thing”, “Coke Is It”, “The Pause That Refreshes”
and many more equally memorable tag lines cause many people to site advertising as the secret to Coke’s success. Others simply say that is Pemberton’s secret formula, still others say it is Biedenharn’s idea to “Bottle it”. And still others say it was the idea of creating the bottler franchise system. We at Great Plains Coca-Cola Bottling Company like to favor this last hypothesis, despite our indebtedness to the others.

For over 80 years now, Great Plains Coca-Cola Bottling Company has been a leader in its community as well as a thriving, ever-expanding business enterprise. As Coca-Cola has prevailed and spanned the world, Great Plains Coca-Cola has displayed the kind of strong and astute leadership it takes to stay competitive in the midst of challenging marketplace demands and a sincere dedication to the well-being of the people of the Great Plains region of America.

Great Plains Coca-Cola Bottling Company as a bottler has been unique among its peers in that it has a reputation for innovation. In the early days the company was the first to utilize water purification systems, later it was among the first to pioneer the 6 pack carton. Today, Great Plains is the first bottler to pioneer Just-In-Time Logistics, which means that the company carries zero product inventories in its non producing locations. Everything is cross docked and, as a result, the company’s products are the freshest in the world. Additionally, Great Plains offers the highest delivery and merchandising service frequencies and the shortest cycle times in the industry.

The operating philosophy at Great Plains revolves around the motto “Continuous Customer Service”, a modern way of saying what Virgil Browne used to say, “The customer comes first”.

Bob Browne, CEO for the past 25 years likes to add one thing to his granddad’s quote, “Great Plains associates are customers too”. 

On December 30th, 2011 The Coca-Cola Company reached an agreement to acquire Great Plains Coca-Cola Bottling Company from the Browne Family and other investors.  Great Plains Coca-Cola Bottling Company is now a division of the Coca-Cola Refreshments (CCR) in the North America Group.

Our Mission    

To refresh the world...inspire moments of optimism and happiness...create value and make a difference.

Our Destination

To be the best brand, sales and customer service company in North America.

Our North American System

Coca-Cola North America Group is the North American operating unit of The Coca-Cola Company, and is comprised of Coca-Cola Refreshments (CCR), Enabling Functions and North America Brands.  Together, these three act as one North America team, fully aligned and integrated to achieve the Company's 2020 Vision.

In close partnership with our independent U.S. bottlers, Coca-Cola North America Group works together to drive sustainable and profitable growth in North America by following our Roadmap for Growth and focusing on our 6Ps - Profit, Productivity, Portfolio, Partners, People and Planet.

Our Company

The Coca-Cola Company is the world's largest beverage company, refreshing consumers with more than 500 sparkling and still brands.  Led by Coca-Cola, the world's most valuable brand, the Company's portfolio features 16 billion dollar brands, including Diet Coke, Coke Zero, Fanta, Sprite, Vitaminwater, POWERADE, Georgia, Minute Maid and Simply in North America.  Through the world's largest beverage distribution system, consumers in more than 200 countries enjoy our beverages at a rate of 1.8 billion servings a day.

In addition to providing moments of refreshment to people around the world, we also strive to make a positive difference in the world as a good corporate citizen.  Through our Live Positively philosophy, our Company is focused on initiatives that protect the environment, conserve resources, encourage active, healthy lifestyles, and enhance the economic development of the communities where we operate.


* It is interesting to note that a direct descendant of John Pemberton founded Oklahoma City’s oldest grocery store, The Crescent Market, located in Nichols Hills Plaza. The store until very recently was managed by Art Pemberton.