The Iconic Design of the Coca-Cola Bottle - RichingsGreetham Journal

Family Size Coca-Cola Bottle
Piers – Founder

I’ve always had a strong fascination, love and identification with design and quality.

My most recent purchase was a 1950’s 26oz Coca-Cola ‘Family Size’ bottle. I bought it on Ebay from a seller in upstate New York.

The ‘most recognisable item of product packaging in the World’ celebrates its 100th birthday this year. Measuring 12 inches tall and 3½ inches wide (at the base) These bottles were sold in stores throughout the 1950’s and 60’s. (The bottom on my bottle has the 1956 date of manufacture.)

In 1886 John S Pemberton, a pharmacist in Atlanta, concocted a caramel- coloured liquid and took it for a test run at the soda foundation in the neighbouring Jacob’s Pharmacy to see how the locals would react.

They liked it. A lot!

Two Chattanooga lawyers bought the rights to bottle the beverage in 1899 and the new Coca-Cola Bottling Company began franchising the rights city by city which led to bottling anarchy. The Coca-Cola Bottling Company finally persuaded its many franchises that it was in their interest to individually and collectively to settle on a single distinctive design and in 1915 a competition was announced. It was won by two employees of The Root Glass Company of Terre Haute Indiana.

They found inspiration in an illustration of a cocoa bean pod with its elongated shape and distinctive ribs. So, under the direction of shop foreman Alexander Samuelson, the pod drawing was translated into glass. Raymond Loewy, the famed industrial designer often referred to as the father of modern design, was retained by Coca-Cola in the 1940’s to apply his flair to its vending machines. He was vocal in his praise for the bottles timeless design, ‘the most perfect fluid wrapper of the day and one of the classics in packaging history.’

The rest as they say is history.