Saturday, June 27, 2009


The Startup Candy Company has been in business in Provo, Utah, since 1875. The company is listed in Ripley's Believe It Or Not as the very first candy company to make a filled chocolate candy bar in America. The Startup family still makes that filled candy bar, called the Opera Bar, and still uses some of the same molds and equipment as they did when the company went into business. They were also an early distributor of Coca-Cola, and hence the sale of that product to Mr. L. C. Ford Junior, of Lima, Montana. Mr. Ford's father was the railroad doctor for the Oregon Short Line Railroad. When the Oregon Short Line was purchased by Union Pacific, Dr. Ford was out of a job, and moved himself and his family to the first real settlement of any size on the North side of Monida Pass, which was Lima.

According to the Historical Society in Lima, his kitchen table was also his operating table. Patients were brought in the front door, and if they didn't make it - they were taken out the back. His son opened a Drug Store/Pharmacy directly across the street, and I would bet that among the various glass fronted cases and lidded jars on his counter was an assortment of the candies made by the Startup family.

When I first was given this piece of paper, I thought it would be an easy task to find the right 'ingredients' for a visual fish to hang on the "Startup" hook. It took almost a month to finally find someone who could give me an image of the 'right' Coca-Cola bottle and the 'right' label to go with it. A gentleman from Atlanta, GA, by the name of Mr. Bill Baab was kind enough to send me not only a bottle that is proper for 1908, but also a copy of an original paper label, also proper for the period. And he sent them both to me on HIS DIME. I was blown away by the willingness of a total stranger to send me all the right pieces to put the puzzle together.

Thus, Mr. Baab, this Coke is for you!


  1. My mouth is open and I'm ready to press my lips around that smooth, cool, glass rim and take a long, cold glug of the ORIGINAL COKE! I have never seen that bottle before, but can feel the cold moisture on my palm. The date sold gave me a start! That was just 5 days ago--plus a hundred years! Oh, Dave, this is wonderful--even before the REST of the Startup Story!

  2. I'm giving Mr. Jon Startup of Startup Candy Company in Provo, Utah, a chance to see what he thinks before I empty the bottle and eat the candy. I'm not letting this one go for the cost of a case of Coke, either.

  3. I must say that I did enjoy this post a lot. I have an old ink blotter that is brand new but was distributed to country school houses and the children in them. It was put out by Coca Cola.

  4. Very cool! The backstory will be very interesting, I'm sure...
    Thanks for sharing!