A century ago, it wouldn’t have been easy to get a soda at Reinhardt. In fact, it would have been illegal in Waleska, and students who dared to bring the contraband liquid onto campus faced potential expulsion.
Students learned of these restrictions in a publication called “The Catalog” that contained the basic regulations, guidelines and course information for Reinhardt students. Rule No. 12 in the 1927 edition said, “The sale of soft drinks is forbidden in Waleska. Any student having them brought to Waleska will be subject to expulsion.”
Although it can’t be confirmed why soda was banned, reporter Max Bixler of the Atlanta Journal Constitution, in a 1998 AJC article, suggested the prohibition probably arose from rumors that Coke literally contained cocaine. This, despite the fact that the tiny amount cocaine formerly contained was removed shortly after the turn of the century.
Rule No. 12 banning soda did not appear in the 1928 version of “The Catalog” and there’s a popular theory for the reason.
Rumors suggest that in 1928, when Samuel C. Dobbs made financial contributions to the university, he stipulated that rule No. 12 be removed.
Dobbs donated $23,500 to Reinhardt. This may seem like a small amount but according to a U.S. government inflation calculator, adjusted for inflation, that’s the equivalent of $330,713.71 today. Dobbs’ contribution literally bought the school out of debt. The donation also resulted in the construction of the building we know today as the Samuel C. Dobbs Science Hall.
But why did this capitalist care about whether or not Reinhardt’s students were able to enjoy soda? Well, he had a stake in it; Dobbs was an influential and very involved employee of Coca-Cola, serving as their president for three years.
It would be difficult to make the argument that Dobbs’ generosity didn’t have an influence on the removal of the ban, but no record can be found to confirm or deny the exact reasons the law was removed.
Regardless of the reason, Reinhardt’s students and faculty owe a debt of gratitude to Dobbs. Not only does the school have a beautifully built science building, but he also kept Reinhardt alive—the debt very well may have ended the university’s tenure.
Of course, chances are also good that Dobbs helped ensure an ice-cold Coca-Cola product could be enjoyed with a meal at Gordy.
Written By: Thomas May. Photo Credits: Color Rendering of the original Samuel C. Dobbs Science Hall, Reinhardt University Archives. Featured Image Photo Credit: Thomas May. Featured Image: Student Je’Ryan Jackson grabs a soda at Gordy.