Celebrating 100-Year-Old – How Coca-Cola Bottle Got Its Sexy Shape

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Mar 09 2015
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This year marks approximately 100-year Coca-Cola got into its shape. No, we’re not talking about how long Coke was in the market. It was invented more than 100-year ago in 1886 by John Pemberton, and subsequently bought by businessman Asa Griggs Candler. Of course, Mr Asa made crazy truckloads of fortune selling Coca-Cola. Surprisingly, Coca-Cola was originally intended as a patent medicine.

Coca-Cola Inventor John Pemberton and Businessman Asa Griggs Candler

We’re talking about celebrating 100-year-old “Coca-Cola Bottle” this year. Exactly 100-year ago in 1915, Coca-Cola’s iconic bottle shape was invented. The Coke bottle is one of very few consumer items that survives until today. It was such a unique design that the bottle played an important role in a 1980 South African comedy film – The Gods Must Be Crazy. The film grossed over US$60,000,000 under a merely US$5 million budget.


Today, Coca-Cola is worth over US$180 billion in market capitalization. Coca-Cola is one of Warren Buffett’s “Big Four” investments, the rest being American Express, IBM and Wells Fargo. In his 50th annual letters to shareholders, Buffett reveals how his Berkshire Hathaway increased its stake to 9.4% in Coca-Cola. Beside being an impressive defensive stock, how Coca-Cola bottle got its iconic shape is equally awesome.

Coca-Cola Bottle - Movie The Gods Must Be Crazy

When Coca-Cola was first introduced, it was packaged in a straight-sided bottle with the logo embossed on it. Competitors such as Toca Cola, Mako Cola, Celery Cola and tons other colas tried to imitate both the logo and bottle. It was selling a million gallons of syrup in every state of America by 1900. Tired of suing these copycats, Coca-Cola sent out a call to eight glass companies for a new bottle design in 1915.


The requirements – a bottle which a person could recognize even if they felt it in the dark, and a person could tell at a glance what it was even if it’s broken. When the Root Glass Company received the company’s brief, president Chapman J. Root sent bottle designer Earl R. Dean and auditor Clyde Edwards to the local library to seek inspiration. They stumbled upon an illustration of a cocoa pod in the Encyclopædia Britannica.

Coca-Cola Bottle Design History - Evolution

Voila, Coca-Cola’s signature contoured bottle design was born, and this time, the company made sure there would be no copycats, patenting it in 1915. Although the bottle has had several iterations in the past century, coming in many forms – aluminum, glass, plastic – its iconic shape still sets it apart, the only other two constants being Coca-Cola’s logo and secret formula, of course. Some say the designers got the idea from a female’s body shape though (*grin*).


But how did such a simple bottle become one of the world’s most celebrated pop culture symbols? The company believes it is due to its flavour, trademarked script logo, the red colour and the packaging. In conjunction with Coca-Cola bottle’s 100-year-old, the company together with the High Museum of Art in Atlanta are celebrating with an exhibition – An American Icon at 100 (from Feb 28th to Oct 4th, 2015).

Coca-Cola Inventor John Pemberton Statue

The exhibition features more than 100 objects, including more than 15 works of art by Andy Warhol and more than 40 photographs inspired by or featuring the bottle. Visitors will have the opportunity to view original design illustrations, historical artifacts and a century of experimentation with the Coca-Cola bottle. So, it you happen to be around the area, remember to drop by at the High’s Anne Cox Chambers wing.


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