Happy Birthday to the Coca-Cola Contour Bottle

One hundred years ago today the Coca-Cola Contour bottle began its journey around the world. Like all longstanding ideas, it seems so simple – but 100 years of effort has gone into creating and maintaining the seemingly effortless chic of the Coca-Cola Contour bottle.

One hundred years ago today the Coca-Cola Contour bottle began its journey around the world. Like all longstanding ideas, it seems so simple – but 100 years of effort has gone into creating and maintaining the seemingly effortless chic of the Coca-Cola Contour bottle.

Take a look back in time to the secrets behind the Coke bottle and its iconic design.

The tremendous success and growth of Coca-Cola encourages imitations by competitors: bottles with slight variations on the trademarked name and distinctive script logo. The now famous Coca-Cola contour bottle was patented in 1915 by the Root Glass Company of Terre Haute, Indiana. The creative brief called for a bottle that could be recognised when broken on the ground or by touch in the dark.

Who, What, Where?

Back in 1899, the burgeoning soda industry was all about the soda fountain, usually dispensed by an American drugstore. So Coca-Cola planned to offer it in a bottle, capitalising on its popularity and making it more widely available.

Great ideas lend themselves to copying, and soon competitors were offering very similar bottle designs – so Coca-Cola decided to develop a more distinctive package.

In 1915, The Coca-Cola Bottling Company challenged glass companies across the US to develop a “bottle so distinct that you would recognize it by feeling in the dark or lying broken on the ground.” Inspired by the shape and lines of the cocoa bean, the Root Glass Company in Indiana, USA, developed a bottle concept that would become the distinctive Coca-Cola bottle. A committee of bottlers and Coca-Cola executives selected the design and, in 1916, the Coca-Cola bottle was born.

In 1949, a study showed that less than 1% of Americans were unable to identify the Coca-Cola bottle by its shape alone. A year later, in 1950, the Coca-Cola bottle appeared on the cover of Time Magazine – the first commercial product to appear on the cover of the publication. By 1951, the distinctly shaped contour was so well known, it was granted trademark status.