Hygeia Coca-Cola Bottling Plant

In June 1903, L. G. Crosby became the sole owner of the new Pensacola Coca-Cola franchise. In September of that year, he produced the first bottle of Coca-Cola in the Pensacola plant.

By 1924, Crosby had succeeded in running his competitors out of business and had the only bottling plant in the Pensacola area. In March of that year, he sold the plant to Charles V. Rainwater and J. H. Edmondson. The name was changed to Hygeia Coca-Cola Bottling Works, and long-range plans were established by the new owners.

In 1936, C. V. Rainwater saw the need for a larger, more modern plant, so he purchased property on Palafox Street and built a new Coca-Cola plant.

By December 1937, C. V. Rainwater’s son Crawford came to Pensacola. The decision to build another plant in DeFuniak Springs was made. Construction began in February 1941 and was completed in October 1941. The Coca-Cola Company in DeFuniak Springs made a place for itself and built a good business over the years. October 15, 1975, was the last day the bottling operation worked in DeFuniak Springs. After that, Coca-Cola was bottled in Pensacola and transported to DeFuniak Springs for distribution.

Harry Robinson was the first manager of the DeFuniak Springs plant from 1941 until 1946. Then R. M. “Shine” Sawyer managed it until he retired in the early 1970s, making him the longest-serving manager. Then Bob Vining was manager until he retired on June 30, 1975.

John Poss moved to DeFuniak Springs and managed the plant until it closed in 1979. He then went to Pensacola for a year before returning to DeFuniak Springs to manage the sales center in Valparaiso. He retired in 1985 due to a back injury with 38-1/2 years of service to Coca-Cola.

[This history was attributed to John and Patsy Poss of Thomason, Georgia. The recorder and its date are unknown.]

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