• Share

The Family Story Behind a Vintage Photo of the Giant Coke Crate

By:  Jamal Booker Oct 30, 2012
Tags & Topics:
Family Connections Revealed Through Vintage Yellow Crate Video
Family Connections Revealed Through Vintage Yellow Crate Video
The Family Story Behind a Vintage Photo of the Giant Coke Crate

Behind every piece of memorabilia in the Coca-Cola archives is a story. And each of these tales is made up of people, places and various campaigns.

Although we generally know the projects behind each artifact, rarely do we have the opportunity to meet the individuals who made them. But thanks to a photo that I unearthed tucked away inside the archives, I was able to locate and meet the man who built the world’s largest-ever (human-sized!) Coca-Cola advertising crate: J.B. Chandler.

Family Connections Revealed Through Vintage Yellow Crate Video

J.B. Chandler (pictured middle left) constructed the lifesize Coca-Cola bottle crate in the early 1950s in his hometown of Fayetteville, Ga.

We’ve all seen the famous yellow crates, and whether the logo was in English, Arabic, Spanish or Vietnamese, we knew exactly what they were used for — carrying Coke bottles known to consumers the world over.

At his home about 25 miles from Coca-Cola’s Atlanta headquarters, the now 90-year-old Chandler was able to share with us what went into creating the massive crate some 50 years ago.

Through our conversations, I also learned that Chandler was responsible for installing every rivet in thousands of wooden Coca-Cola poster frames that sold for a mere $2. Today, they’re considered coveted collectibles worth hundreds of dollars.

As for the Coca-Cola posters that he framed, Chandler lithographed many of them himself — using the storied “Coca-Cola red” paint — which he blended as carefully as if he were mixing the celebrated beverage Secret Formula.

And thanks to a Coca-Cola employee named Jason Grubbs, I also discovered why the giant crate was built in the first place — another mystery solved!

In this video, you’ll see that Grubbs also has a very special connection to Chandler.