The Northern Neck Coca-Cola Bottling Company of Montross, Va., may not have been the biggest Coca-Cola bottler, but they certainly came up with some of our system's most creative advertising and promotional ideas. Tucked away on the edge of the Chesapeake Bay, the bottler was run by several generations of the Carver family who acquired the franchise in 1921.
Most fans of Coca-Cola are aware of the famous “Barefoot Boy” illustration by Norman Rockwell. The image was created for a 1931 Coca-Cola ad campaign and quickly proved to be one of the most popular ads our company had created. Rockwell used the Whittier poem, The Barefoot Boy, as inspiration. Danny Grant, a freckle-faced 13-year-old Boy Scout from Los Angeles, posed as the model. It became the most popular calendar Coca-Cola had ever printed. More than 2 million were shipped to bottlers across the country.
So what does Barefoot Boy have to do with Montross? The answer is Ashby Carver. For the annual celebration of the May Spring Fair, a young Mr. Carver, the son of the bottler, Arthur E. Carver, Sr., was enlisted as a substitute model for the Barefoot Boy. As you can see from the photos, Ashby performed his role with a smile during the 3/4-mile parade route.
Even the dog looks happy. But I bet he still didn't get the sandwich!
Ted Ryan is director of heritage communications at The Coca-Cola Company