Original Coke Bottle Patent (1915)

Before 1915, virtually all soda bottles looked the same. Then, in 1915, the Coca-Cola Company launched a competition among glass makers to see who could design the best new Coke bottle. The competition was launched mainly among its bottle suppliers but included some new entrants as well. Coca-Cola wanted a bottle with a unique and distinctive look and feel that could set it apart from its competition and protect its brand. The company was seeking "a bottle which a person could recognize even if they felt it in the dark, and so shaped that, even if broken, a person could tell at a glance what it was."

The Root Glass Company of Terre Haute, Indiana won the competition. Chapman J. Root, president of the company, asked his staff to submit their ideas and the staff decided to base the design on either the coca leaf or the kola nut. Several employees at the company worked together. Alexander Samuelsson, a shop foreman, sent two of his teammates, Clyde Edwards and Earl R. Dean to do research. Dean, a bottle designer and supervisor of the bottle molding room at the Root company, made a rough sketch of the cocoa pod based on a picture he was in the Encyclopedia Britannica. Under Samuelsson's direction, Dean then proceed to create a bottle mold based on the sketch and produce a small batch of bottles. Chapman Root approved the prototype and the company filed a patent issued November 16, 1915 with Samuelsson's name on the document.

The following year, the Coca-Cola Company adopted the Root Glass Company's design, however with a slight change. The original prototype that was too top-heavy so the first new Coke bottles were manufactured with a wider base and narrower body. The now famous Coca-Cola bottle went into production in Indiana and became the world's most successful product design. As a reward, Dean was offered a choice between a $500 bonus or a lifetime job at the Root Glass Company. While he chose the lifetime job, the company was bought in the mid-1930s and he left to work at other glass factories. The shape of the bottle became so iconic that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office gave the design it trademark status.




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About the Author

Ari Siegel is the founder and CEO of HistoryByMail.com and
HistoricCartoons.com. After growing up hearing WWII stories from both of his
grandfathers, he studied history at the University of Michigan. While working
in Washington D.C. and giving tours of the U.S. Capitol building, he was
inspired to take some of the thousands of historic documents that belong to the
American people, and make them more accessible.