One of the ways Cool Culinaria dates a vintage menu is by looking at the prices of the food and drink on offer and comparing them to other years. We could never work out why the cost of a Coke remained at five cents through several decades until we heard a fascinating piece on NPR by David Kestenbaum. He reported that the price remained at a nickel throughout three wars, the Great Depression and against the onslaught of competitors because two lawyers bought the bottling rights in 1889. Two Emory University Economists, Daniel Levy and Andrew Young, investigated the fascinating story of the price of Coke in their paper: "The Real Thing:" Nominal Price Rigidity of the Nickel Coke, 1886–1959 after a visit to the Coca Cola Museum in Atlanta alerted them to this strange price anomaly.
This is what they discovered. In 1899, when the drink was only being sold in soda fountains, the two lawyers went to the President of Coca Cola and pitched the idea of it being sold in glass bottles. The then-boss of Coke didn't believe this new-fangled idea would catch on and he agreed to sell the lawyers the syrup to do it – at a fixed price. The professors noted that he probably just wanted to get the pair of persistent lawyers out of his office so he signed the paper without thinking through the consequences.