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Just over 22 years ago, members of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra played a slow rendition of the eponymous melody, “I’d like to buy the world a Coke,” as the coffin of legendary Cuban-born Chairman of the Coca-Cola Company, Roberto Goizueta, was born down the aisle of Holy Spirit Catholic┬áChurch in Atlanta.

I wasn’t there, but I did spend an enjoyable day a few years before spiriting Roberto through his first visit to McDonald’s then-sprawling home office campus in Oak Brook, IL. He chain-smoked through our tour, each time we entered his limousine to visit another part of the campus. In one of those short rides, I mentioned that their recently acquired ┬ábrand, Barq’s, was may favorite root beer. He launched into the story about how his father in Cuba had loved root beer, and this aquisition was in his memory. Then he added, “And, it was a very good deal.” Goizuita made many very good deals during his Coke career, making him a billionaire and making Coke Shareholders over $180 Billion dollars.

He was one of the most successful corporate executives in American history. And though he came from a wealthy Cuban family, he lost everything and moverd to America to start over. An ambitious, but loveable guy.


In the mid-90s, I had the pleasure of showing the Chairman of the Coca-Cola Company, Roberto Guizeta around his first visit to the campus of McDonald’s global home office in Oak Brook, and we had an interesting exchange about root beer as we drove between buildings in his limousine.

Coke had just bought the company that made my favorite root beer, Barq’s “It’s Good,” and I took the occasion to ask him about it. Coke already had its own root beer brand, so I wondered out loud, “Roberto, what made you decide to buy Barq’s?” In his strong Cuban accent, he answered, between long pulls on a Camel cigarette, “Charles, my grandfather in Cuba, he like root beeer very much, and he made his own. I buy Barqs for him…plus, it was a very good deal!”

May 2023

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