The Coca-Cola bottle is much more than a container for a popular soda. It is recognised all over the world as a design classic and an icon of popular culture. Introduced in 1915, it had assumed its current form by the 1950s, when it became known as the ‘Contour Bottle’. That same decade, it became the first product to appear on the cover of Time magazine, and it began appearing in the work of renowned artist Andy Warhol, who used it to represent mass culture. Today, the Coke bottle continues to evolve.
The story of Coca-Cola began in 1886, when a pharmacist in Atlanta, Georgia, named Dr. John Pemberton invented a new soda of that name. At first, the drink was sold exclusively at soda fountains. Perhaps partly because its formula contained cocaine until 1905 that, in 1899, to expand sales, The Coca-Cola Company began selling the soda in bottles as well.
In those early years, Coca-Cola’s competitors imitated its bottles, to deceive their customers into buying their products. Frustrated with this trend, in 1915, The Coca-Cola Company invited around ten glass companies to design a “bottle so distinct that you would recognise it by feel in the dark or lying broken on the ground.” One of those companies, the Root Glass Company in Indiana, was inspired by an illustration of a cocoa bean to design a bottle with an elongated form.
The Coca-Cola Company adopted the Root Glass Company’s bottle design, which later evolved into the famous Contour Bottle. The company has attempted to be more environmentally-friendly by introducing in 2009 what it calls its PlantBottle, the world’s first fully recyclable PET plastic bottle made partially from plants. This year, it began selling bottles with attached caps, to make it easier to recycle the bottle and the caps together (so the caps aren’t discarded separately, which it recognised as a problem). However, environmentalists say thesemeasures are insufficient and that the company should be selling its soda in reusable containers instead.