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America's Top States For Business -- On The Road In Georgia

We didn't plan it this way, honest. But it's a good thing our No. 4 state, Georgia, is just two states away from our number five state, North Carolina. That's because thunderstorms and a power failure at Charlotte-Douglas airport forced the cancellation of our flight to Atlanta, which meant we had to drive to our Tuesday location.

So here I sit, after a four-hour drive, eating a nice Georgia peach cobbler from room service and thinking about how road trips have changed over the years.

When I was growing up, no family trip was complete without taking a factory tour (that, and a visit to a local zoo--my dad loved zoos--but that's another story). I'll never forget the Kellogg cereal tour in Battle Creek, Mich., and the flattened, un-filled box of Apple Jacks that I got to keep. I kept it for years. Or the scent of the chocolate at the Hershey plant in Hershey, Pa.--which I can still smell--at least in my mind--to this day.

But there are very few factory tours left anymore. Kelloggstopped giving tours in 1986, concerned about liability and corporate espionage. And Hershey, citing large crowds, gave its last tour in 1973 (this means I got my whiff of chocolate just in the nick of time!).

Today, factory tours have been replaced by multi-media "brand experiences." And that brings us to today's destination, the new World of Coca-Cola Museum in downtown Atlanta. It's a 92,000 square foot facility that opened in May. The WOCC, as they call it, takes visitors through "Milestones of Refreshment", a Coca-Cola tasting lounge, and a real, functioning bottling facility. That's a good thing--at least the WOCC has some "manufacturing" to it. And if the Coke folks have done this right, a whole generation of young Coke drinkers will have their brand loyalty solidified. Will it work as well as those aromas in the Hershey factory in the 1970s? We'll have to check back in about 30 years.