ROYAL CROWN COLA
BRAND NAME COOKING WITH ROYAL CROWN COLA
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The following is an excerpt from the book Ideas that
Became Big Business by Clinton Woods. Published by Founders,
Inc. Baltimore, MD, 1959, 414 pages.
Buy this book:
Became Big Business
The Royal Crown Cola Story
Including highlights in the life of its
founder, the late Claud A. Hatcher, pioneer southern
industrialist whose high moral courage and vision are
guiding forces in the continuing success of the
international soft drink firm.
"The giant painting of Claud A. Hatcher which hangs
over the receptionist's desk in the offices of the Royal
Crown Cola Co. in Columbus, Georgia is more than a portrait
of the founder of the soft drink firm. It's an ever present
reminder of a man who had a big dream and the courage to
make that dream come true.
More than that it hangs as a challenge to those who direct
the destiny of the international soft drink parent company.
Because of this man of high moral courage and vision, the
soft drink firm stands as a symbol of free enterprise--from
which flows sparkling refreshments to millions of people
throughout the world.
Shortly after the founding of the company in 1905 by Claud
A. Hatcher he associated himself in the business his father,
L. A. Hatcher, and his brother, W. K. Hatcher, who just
recently retired from active duty on the board of directors
after more than 50 years of active service.
The company ahs grown from its small beginning until today
Royal Crown Cola is one of the three top producers of soft
drinks in America with more than 460 franchised Royal Crown
Cola, Nehi and Par-T-Pak bottlers in the U.S.A. and several
The Royal Crown Cola Co. is the outgrowth of the Hatcher
Grocery Company, a Columbus, Georgia wholesale grocery firm
organized in 1901.
Claud A. Hatcher was born in Dawson, Georgia on August 20,
1876. He attended grammar school and high school of his home
town. Mr. Hatcher first decided to be a doctor and entered
the Louisville Medical College in Louisville, Kentucky.
After a year at medical school he then decided that he
wanted to be a pharmacist and own and run a drug store.
Accordingly, he changed to the study of pharmacy and after
completing his studies he stopped off in Atlanta on the way
to his home in Dawson and took the examination to become a
registered pharmacist. He made the highest grade in this
examination that had ever been attained up to that time.
He first entered the drug business in Preston, Georgia but
soon sold his drug store in Preston and moved to Dawson
where he opened another drug store.
In the meantime Mr. Hatcher's father, L. A. Hatcher, had
moved his family to Columbus and had become a salesman for
the M. W. Kelly Wholesale Grocery Company.
In 1901, father and son decided to establish a wholesale
grocery business in Columbus. This wholesale grocery company
was originally the Cole-Hatcher-Hampton Grocery Company, but
after the first few years of operation, Claud Hatcher and
his father bought out the other two partners. It was quite
common for the wholesale grocery companies to ship bottled
soft drinks to their customers who were not served by
bottling plants from nearby towns. Cream Soda, Root Beer,
and Ginger Ale were very popular flavors in the period just
after the turn of the century. These beverages were
purchased from a bottling plant in Columbus and shipped to
the customers of Hatcher Grocery Company at no profit to the
company but as a service for their customers. As the demand
for soft drinks increased, Mr. Hatcher built a small
laboratory and begin experimenting with the development of a
line of carbonated beverages. The Union Bottling Works was
formed in 1905 in the basement of the Hatcher Grocery
Royal Crown Ginger Ale was one of the first trademarks used
and this beverage, along with other popular flavors, was
sold throughout the western section of Georgia by the
In 1907, the Hatcher Grocery Company moved its operations to
the present location and the bottling branch of the business
In 1911, the Union Bottling Works was incorporated and the
bottling branch of the grocery business was transferred to
the new corporation.
From the beginning Mr. Hatcher applied his keen concept of
business management, advertising, and sales promotion. His
skill as a pharmacist made him particularly alert to the
importance of producing a quality product. Thus "Quality"
became the watchword of the company. To assist franchised
bottlers in guarding the quality of the company's line of
beverages and to develop new products, Mr. Hatcher set up a
research laboratory and from that laboratory over the years
have come many famous products including the company's
spearhead brand, Royal Crown Cola, a full line of Nehi
flavor beverages, Upper 10, lime-lemon soda, and a complete
line of dietary products.
Perhaps the most significant chapter in the history of the
company was the introduction of a new large size bottle
which marked the first evolution in the soft drink industry.
Ever seeking new and revolutionary ways for launching his
company on the road to lasting success in the early 20s when
consumer buying power became an all important factor, Mr.
Hatcher completed plans for introduction of a larger size
In 1924, a nine ounce bottle trademarked Nehi, backed by a
consumer advertising campaign picturing a bottle of Nehi
beverages along with a pretty girl's legs, was introduced.
This new idea in packaging and promotion proved so
successful that in 1926 the company was incorporated by the
Superior Court of Muscogee County under the name Nehi, Inc.
In 1928 it was incorporated under the laws of the state of
Delaware as Nehi Corporation.
The road up wasn't always easy. During the rough days of the
depression, Mr. Hatcher staked his personal fortune on his
faith and ability to rise above the mediocre to see his
dream through to success.
Although a man with a positive driving force, he did not
push his way up the ladder of success at the cost of others.
Always business-like, he was a man with a heart filled with
regard and concern for his fellow man. During the depression
years he found time to grow vitally needed foods on his farm
which he maintained on the outskirts of the growing city of
Columbus, bring them in once each week and placing them on
sale to his employees at one cent per pound.
He provided funds for the education of many worthy young
people on a strictly loan basis. This led to the
establishment in his will of the Pickett-Hatcher Educational
Fund which is one of the most important and tangible
by-products of the success of the Royal Crown Cola Co. and
its predecessor companies.
The Fund, which honors one of his earlier associates, DeWitt
C. Pickett, is today the second largest organization for
lending money to students in the United States.
Mr. Hatcher continued in active management of the company
until his death on December 31, 1933. He was succeeded by H.
R. Mott, who was president of the company until 1940 when C.
C. Colbert became president. In March of 1955, W. H. Glenn
was elected president and Mr. Colbert was made chairman of
the board of directors. He was succeeded by T. H. Stanley,
presently chairman of the board of directors.
In 1934, a sparkling new cola drink was introduced by the
company named Royal Crown Cola and destined to become on of
America's famous cola drinks. Shortly afterwards, the
abbreviation "RC" was adopted.
It was the phenomenal success of this cola drink that
influenced stockholders in their March 24, 1959 meeting to
change the name of the company from Nehi Corporation to
Royal Crown Cola Co.
In the company's 1958 annual report W. H. Glenn, president,
said, "The high standards maintained for our products; the
continued expansion into new markets; the added emphasis
upon more effective marketing and advertising of our
products; and the addition of experienced personnel at the
executive level are a part of our plans for continued
In June, 1954, Royal Crown Cola opened its first canning
plant in Columbus, introducing famous Nehi beverages to
consumers throughout the southeastern states. Today eight
canning plants produce and distribute the company's products
to exclusive franchised bottlers throughout the U.S.A. and
to military markets overseas. Number one in the sale of soft
drinks in cans, Royal Crown Cola accounted for approximately
41% of all soft drink sales in cans in 1958."