The Coca-Cola Bottle: Celebrating 100 Years of an American Icon

Original Coke Bottle Patent,  November 16, 1915. (Records of the Patent and Trademark Office, National Archives)

Original Coke Bottle Patent, November 16, 1915. (Records of the Patent and Trademark Office, National Archives)

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.

See the original patent 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.

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)

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)

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)

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)

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