The Marion Coke Plant

The following is an excerpt from Bill Munn’s blog Grant County History. The entire blog can be accessed here.

marioncokeplant

There is a small green glass three ounce bottle on my bookshelf. The raised letters on the surface read “J.T. Rademaker,  Marion, Indiana.” The bottle is a artifact of a Marion business that produced that most American of all products- Coca Cola.

In 1896, J.T. Rademaker of Peru, Indiana purchased a small bottling business in Marion located  at 1219 South Branson. By 1898 J.T. moved his successful enterprise to 17th and Washington. Occupying a two story frame building , Rademaker  manufactured and bottled local
beverages such as Crab Apple Champagne, Orange Cider, and Jersey Creme.

June McKown, in her Pictorial History of Marion, tells of Rademaker’s Orange Pop, made in barrels, strained through cloth and sealed in stoppered bottles. When customers hit the bottle on the top, a loud “pop’ would
sound, giving the drink its name.

In 1918 Rademakers’ secured a coveted franchise from the Coca-Cola Company.  The development of Coca-Cola occurred approximately the same time time as  Rademaker’s in Marion. An Atlanta Georgia pharmacist, A.M. Pemberton had devised the classic drink in his store in 1886. In 1889 the business and secret recipe was sold to three Tennessee businessmen for $1.00. These men perfected the bottling process and the business took off.

In 1938 the Marion Coke plant as it was known to locals, got a thorough remodeling. On opening day in October over 4,000 people would visit the new plant for tour. Driving by the location today, the 1938 configuration can still be seen.

After four generations of family operation the family sold the franchise. No more green bottles rolled off the  Marion lines.

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