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The Evolution of the Iconic Coca-Cola Bottle

Coca-Cola is one of the world’s most instantly recognizable, and valuable, brands.

This year marked the 100th anniversary of the iconic Coca-Cola bottle, packaging that is just as recognizable as the logo or product itself.

The beginnings of the Coca-Cola bottle came from the company trying to get their own iconic look, as in the late 19th century and early 20th, there was a lot of competition in the field of carbonated soft drinks, including surviving companies like Pepsi and Dr. Pepper.

A straight-sided bottle wasn’t distinctive enough.

When the Georgia businessman Asa Griggs Candler became the majority shareholder of Coca-Cola in 1888, he set his sights on making Coke the nation’s most popular cola. But by 1915, Candler was losing market share to hundreds of competitors. The company worried that a straight-sided bottle wasn’t distinctive enough and that Coca‑Cola was becoming easily confused with ‘copycat’ brands. 

The company launched a national contest for a new bottle design that would signal to consumers that Coke was a premium product that couldn’t be confused with some other brown cola in an identical glass bottle. The new bottle had to be able to be mass produced using existing equipment yet also be distinct.

Coca-Cola had nothing to do with cocoa, but the cocoa pod had a strange but appealing shape.

The Root Glass Company in Indiana decided to enter the contest and base its design off the product’s name. While combing through the dictionary for the word “coca” and words like it, mold shop supervisor Earl R. Dean came across an illustration for the cocoa plant that caught his attention. Coca-Cola had nothing to do with cocoa, but the cocoa pod had a strange but appealing shape. He and his team got to work and were declared the contest winners the next year. You can thank Sweden’s Alexander Samuelsson for the shape of the Coca-Cola bottle you’re holding today.

By 1920, the contour bottle, as it’s been called, had become the company’s most celebrated artifact. The bottle is without a doubt one of the most famous designs in history. Over the years the branding and packaging has evolved, but it is still not a far departure from its original form.

And the rest, as they say, is pop culture history.

For many reasons, the bottle has become on of the most iconic and recognizable package designs since its inception. Coca-Cola remains to have one of the strongest branding stories that exists. What will be the next evolution of the bottle? Only time will tell. 

Until then, we leave you with with 120 years of Coca-Cola’s History in 2 minutes. Enjoy.


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