Coca-Cola first sold its original carbonated soda as a fountain drink in 1886. Beginning with the classic glass contour bottle introduced in 1916, Coke was the first company to ever patent and trademark a product’s packaging. This bottle was commonly known as the “hobble skirt” because of its resemblance to the Victorian hoop skirt.
The company wanted a bottle that had a unique shape so that it could be easily distinguished from all the other sodas. They believed that a distinct shape would help customers choose Coca-Cola over standard straight-sided bottles. This contour shape, although redesigned over time, led famed industrial designer Raymond Loewy to describe it as, “the most perfectly designed package in the world.”
Although the Coca-Cola Company wanted the contour bottle to resemble a combination of the coca leaf and kola nut in shape and design, the actual finished product more closely resembled that of the cacao pod. An early design with a middle section wider than the tapered top and base had to be scrapped because it wasn’t practical – it was unsteady on the conveyor belts. It was quickly revised and the revised version of the contour design quickly rose in popularity. By the 1920s, sales of bottled Coca-Cola overtook fountain sales. By the 1930s, Coca-Cola was being bottled in over 44 countries, and when World War II began, an additional 64 plants were established worldwide.
The glass contour bottle was the only packaging of Coca-Cola available until the 1950s, when other sizes were finally introduced – they included 10, 12 and 26 ounces. Aluminum cans of Coca-Cola were not made available until the 1960s, and the plastic bottle, so well-known today, was not introduced until 1994.
Although the 20-ounce plastic bottle is the most widely used Coca-Cola bottle today, glass contour bottles are still available in some areas. The Coca-Cola Company has also expanded its packaging to include aluminum bottles and other plastic and glass bottles. In 2008, an aluminum version of the 8.5 ounce glass bottle was released in select markets, along with a 2-liter contour bottle. Periodically, the Coca-Cola Company releases limited-time editions of past bottles, marketed as “retro” packaging.
01/10/2012 by Anne Benedetto