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Archivist to Talk about Coca-Cola Goes to War

Ted Ryan, Director, Heritage Communications, The Coca-Cola Company, will talk about “Coca-Cola Goes to War” to kick off the Marshall Legacy Series sequence called Let’s Get A Move On that focuses on civilian and industrial mobilization during World War II.

His presentation begins at 5:30 pm on Sept. 15 in the Pogue Auditorium at the Marshall Foundation in Lexington.

The entry of the United States into World War II brought an order from Coca-Cola President Robert Woodruff in 1941 “to see that every man in uniform gets a bottle of Coca-Cola for 5 cents, wherever he is and whatever it costs the Company.”

This effort to supply the armed forces with Coke was being launched when an urgent cablegram arrived from Gen. Dwight Eisenhower’s Allied Headquarters in North Africa. Eisenhower requested shipment of materials and equipment for 10 bottling plants. Army Chief of Staff Gen. George C. Marshall supported Eisenhower’s request by sending the cable and in typical fashion operating behind the scenes to realize the request.

Within six months the company opened the first plant in Algiers, the forerunner of 64 bottling plants that were set up as close as possible to combat areas in Europe and the Pacific. More than 5 billion bottles of Coke were consumed by military service personnel during the war.

Ted Ryan will describe the many successes Coca-Cola achieved during the war. An authority on Coke history, he has managed the historical collections of The Coca-Cola Company since June 1997. In this role, he oversees an extensive collection of physical and digital artifacts that showcase the rich history of the company.
Reservations for this event are required by calling Leigh McFaddin at 540-463-7103, ext. 138 or by email to reservations@marshallfoundation.org. Seating will be first come, first served. Members and students will be admitted free; non-members will pay $15 at the door.

Guests are invited to see the special exhibition, “What We’re Made Of,” that will be on display in the Lower Gallery through mid-December. The exhibit features original artwork Coca-Cola used for advertising during World War II plus artifacts from Hershey and Hormel, the maker of Spam products that became iconic rations during that war.

This event is a part of the Marshall Legacy Series and is being presented with sponsorship from the Carnegie Corporation of New York.

The George C. Marshall Legacy Series interprets General Marshall’s legacy during a four-year series of exhibitions, speakers and programs centered on key themes or episodes from General Marshall’s career.