Today the Coca-Cola bottle is one of the most recognizable containers in the world, but a century ago nearly all soda bottles looked the same.
To distinguish its product from competitors, in 1915 the Coca-Cola Company launched a competition among glassmakers to design a new bottle that was distinctive in both look and feel.
The winning design, patented by the Root Glass Company of Terre Haute, Indiana, sought inspiration from Coca-Cola’s ingredients. However, the bottle’s fluted contour shape was instead modeled after the cacao pod, the main ingredient in chocolate.
The Coca-Cola Company adopted the Root Glass Company’s bottle design in 1916, but the original prototype was never manufactured because it was top-heavy and unstable.
The first commercial “Coke” bottles debuted with a wider base and slimmed-down, contoured shape. This silhouette became so unmistakable that in 1961 the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office gave it trademark status.
The original patent was on display in person at the National Archives in Washington, DC, from June 4 through July 29, 2015, in the West Rotunda Gallery, and from October 29 through December 2, 2015, in the East Rotunda Gallery.
And check out the post, “Inventing in Congress: Patent Law since 1790” to learn more about the history of patent law in the United States.
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The images in this post are in the public domain and can be used without permission. We do ask that you credit us. You can credit us with the National Archives Identifier, if available, or the photo or patent number. Citations for images in this blog include:
Design patent No. 48,160 for bottle or similar article, November 16, 1915. Records of the Patent and Trademark Office, National Archives (Patent No. 48106)
Men of the 133rd Field Artillery Battalion enjoy Cokes on the front, March 17, 1944. Records of the Office of the Chief Signal Officer, National Archives (111-SC-412503)
Military Police officers toast with their Coca-Colas at a “Retreat Club,” July 21, 1945. Records of the Office of the Chief Signal Officer, National Archives (111-SC-412488) or (National Archives Identifier 175539233)
Featured Document: Coke Bottle Patent, 2015. Photo by Jeff Reed, Records of the National Archives (20151201-01-006)