The history of our iconic bottle
Coca-Cola’s history has got a lot of bottle - more than 115 years’ worth, in fact. The world’s favourite soft drink started life as a soda fountain beverage, selling for five cents a glass, but it was only when a strong bottling system developed that Coca-Cola became the world-famous brand it is today.
1894 - A modest start for a bold idea
Mississippi shop owner Joseph A. Biedenharn began bottling Coca-Cola after he was impressed by its sales. He sold the drink to his customers in a common glass bottle called a Hutchinson.
At the time Biedenharn sent a case to Asa Griggs Candler, who owned the Company. Candler thanked him but took no action. One of his nephews already had urged that Coca-Cola be bottled, but Candler focused on fountain sales.
1916 - Birth of the contour bottle
Bottlers worried that a straight-sided bottle wasn’t distinctive enough and that Coca-Cola was becoming easily confused with ‘copycat’ brands. Glass manufacturers were approached to come up with a unique bottle design for Coca-Cola. The Root Glass Company of Terre Haute, Indiana, designed with the famous contour shape, which won enthusiastic approval from Coca-Cola in 1915 and was introduced in 1916.
Fun facts about the Coca-Cola contour bottle:
- The contour bottle design was inspired by the curves and grooves of a cocoa bean.
- Today, it's one of the most recognised icons in the world - even in the dark.
- Blues players have been known to use necks from Coca-Cola's contour bottles to play slide guitar, coining the term 'bottleneck slide'.
1923 – Six packs
Six pack carriers of Coca-Cola bottles were introduced to encourage people to take their drinks home – and were a huge hit.
1928 – Bottle overtakes fountain
For the first time, the volume of Coca-Cola sold in bottles exceeded the amount sold through soda fountains.
1950 – Media moments
The Coca-Cola contour bottle was the first commercial product to appear on the cover of TIME magazine, establishing Coca-Cola as a truly international brand. Also this year, the first television advert featuring Coca-Cola's contour bottle appeared during CBS' The Edgar Bergen-Charlie McCarthy Show.
1955 – Packaging innovations
For the first time, people could buy different sized bottles of Coca-Cola. As well as the traditional 6.5 ounce contour bottle, shops also started selling larger 10, 12 and 26 ounce versions.
1960 – Trademark no.1
The contour bottle with the word ‘Coca-Cola’ written on it received its first trademark from the US Patent and Trademark Office.
1977 – Trademark no.2
The Coca-Cola contour bottle was granted a second trademark for the contour shape itself, with no words written on it.
1978 – Recyclable bottles
Coca-Cola introduced the world to the two litre PET plastic bottle. It became popular for a lot of reasons: it doesn’t break; it’s re-sealable, lightweight and recyclable.
2000 – Reducing waste
Coca-Cola introduced the ultra-glass contour bottle designed for improved impact resistance, reduced weight and cost. These bottles are 40 per cent stronger and 20 per cent lighter than the original Coca-Cola contour bottle – saving approximately 52,000 metric tons of glass in 2006.
2005 – Aluminium bottles
Coca-Cola joined forces with design firms from five continents to launch a new aluminium contour bottle called the ‘M5’ (Magnificent 5).
2009 – Green bottles
Coca-Cola launched the innovative PlantBottle in the US, a completely recyclable PET container made with 30 per cent plant materials, including sugar cane extracts.
2011 – Going green globally
PlantBottle packaging is available in nine countries with launches planned for many additional markets in 2011 and beyond.
2013 – Your name on our bottles
Coca-Cola swaps its iconic logo with Great Britain’s most popular names for the summer-long ‘Share a Coke’ campaign.