Posted by: Kath Usitalo | December 21, 2010

Road Food Report: Coke Museum Dishes It Up Retro

1941 Skater Girl tray (right) displayed at The Bottle Cap Museum in Dawson and Stevens, Grayling

However I make my fortune it will not be on eBay.

Several years ago I turned to eBay to sell a Coca-Cola tray that had been at my in-laws’ home. TJ had no attachment to it and although I thought it was a cool artifact, it’s not something I’d display or use. We don’t even like Coke all that much.

So we listed and sold it for about $45; seemed like a good price at the time for a tray that had obviously served a few drinks but was in fairly good condition. Today I checked eBay and one seller is asking $185 for the same tray; another offers the relic with a “Buy It Now” tag of $395.
Of course, they can ask whatever they want; it doesn’t mean they’ll get their price. And I take some comfort in the same tray up for bid at $9.99 with no takers (yet). So I guess I should be content with the sale we made.
That eBay experience came back to me when I saw “our” Skater Girl tray on display at The Bottle-Cap Museum in Grayling.
It’s one of thousands of Coca-Cola collectibles displayed in glass cases that line the Dawson and Stevens Classic ’50s Diner and Soda Fountain. The site has housed a shop and soda fountain since the late 1930’s, and was revived and reopened with the 1950s theme in 2006 by local radio magnate Bill Gannon.
He acquired The Bottle Cap Museum, which had been open to the public in the small town of Sparr, and has continued to add to the inventory of all things Coca-Cola.

Sit at the soda fountain or choose a booth; the ambience and simple menu add up to a fun meal with a retro twist in downtown Grayling

You’ll see everything from pens to playing cards, posters to pennants. If it can bear a logo, it’s there. In fact, there’s a Coca-Cola bear on display.
Clocks, thermometers, baseball bats, keychains, dolls. The red and white collection is so large that the items are rotated periodically, and to accommodate more of the trinkets and advertising materials the museum is undergoing an expansion, scheduled to open in May.
But the Coke collection is only half the story. This is a real diner serving good food in a 1950s feel.
Sit on a chrome stool at the counter or slip into one of the pastel booths and enjoy a malt, float or sundae in an old fashioned glass dish. Sandwiches are named for ’50’s tunes, musicians and dances (Chubby Checker pork BBQ sandwich, The Mashed Potato is a country fried steak with, of course, mashed potatoes).
As I finished my cup of homemade soup, half sandwich on house baked bread, homemade potato chips and coffee (no Coke, thank you) folks started to file in—looked like the after-church crowd. But you’re just as likely to see visitors from around the world and busloads of tourists who make their way to see the Coca-Cola collection, enjoy a James Dean Burger and Malted Milkshake, and savor this mid-Mitten slice of Americana.
Related post: Recipe from Grayling’s Borchers Bed & Breakfast


  1. It’s a fun place to look at all of the Coke collectibles.

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