Thursday, January 26, 2017

Houdini's Coca-Cola connection

Reader Bruce East recently alerted me to a connection between Houdini and Coca-Cola that I've never heard before. The following comes from the book The Real Ones: the First Family of Coca-Cola, which discusses Asa Candler Jr., a.k.a. "Buddie," son of Coca-Cola founder Asa Candler, Sr., and his interest in magic.

Asa "Buddie" Candler, Jr.
Buddie arranged to meet and get to know Houdini, from whom he learned several tricks. He would do these tricks for the rest of his life. His grandson Tommy Thompson recalls that, "PaPa was in the Society of American magicians or something like that. They'd put on a show and he'd participate. He did quite a few card tricks. A lot of people didn't realize how talented he was, but he had some card tricks that he would perform like a master. He entertained us. I'd always sit there, and he'd do a trick, and I would ask him how he did that, and he would say, 'Nope, nope, don't ever tell anybody how you do a trick. Nope.'" [...]

Buddie had learned the tricks from Houdini with the promise to the master magician that he would never divulge them, and he never did. The other magician that Buddie knew well and admired was Howard Thurston, who was famous as a card manipulator and also for his large stage illusions such as the "floating lady." It was from Thurston that Buddie learned and purchased some of the illusion acts he proceeded to perform -- usually using his daughters, Helen and Martha, as his assistants. Buddie kept these elaborate magic boxes stored in the ballroom on the third floor of Briarcliff. He could cut a person in two or make them disappear and then return whole, plus many other tricks.

Houdini and Coca-Cola. The real thing indeed.

Below are links to more connections between Houdini and famous American brands.

Thanks Bruce.



  1. Asa was well-known among magicians at the time for purchasing EVERY single trick/illusion from Floyd Thayer's magic catalog in the 1920s. He often held magic parties at his mansion in Atlanta.

    1. Thanks Chuck. Click the "Briarcliff" link in the story and you can see what that mansion looks like today. It's apparently sitting empty.

  2. Those current photos of Briarcliff are not for the weak. You don't want to see what the bathrooms look like now.

  3. Did Houdini teach young Asa during the struggling years before Houdini made it big?

    1. It would have been well after Houdini made it big.