The Story Behind the Iconic Coca-Cola Bottle

With its fluted glass and shapely design, the classic Coca-Cola bottle is a worldwide icon. Even without the label, you can immediately identify it with the brand—which is exactly what Coca-Cola wanted.

When the drink first hit the market in the early 20th century, Coke was sold in standard, straight bottles that were either brown or clear. While each one was embossed with the logo, that didn’t stop imitators like Koka-Nola, Ma Coca-Co, Toka-Cola or Koke from simply mimicking the design to such effect that they often duped consumers. By 1912, Coca-Cola had had enough. They needed a foolproof method for identifying and authenticating their product. Harold Hirsch, the company’s lead attorney, urged bottlers to develop a better container:

“We are not building Coca-Cola alone for today. We are building Coca-Cola forever, and it is our hope that Coca-Cola will remain the National drink to the end of time. The heads of your companies are doing everything in their power at considerable expense to bring about a bottle that we can adopt and call our own child, and when that bottle is adopted I ask each and every member of this convention to not consider the immediate expense that would be involved with changing your bottle, but to remember this, that in bringing about that bottle, the parent companies are bringing about an establishment of your own rights. You are coming into your own and it is a question of cooperation.”

Yeah, they took this mission very seriously. With a $500 initiative, a handful of glass companies across the U.S. were asked to develop a distinctive bottle, and the Root Glass Company in Terre Haute, Ind., ultimately crafted the winner. Under the direction of Alexander Samuelson, a Swedish glass blower, the team created a bottle inspired by an illustration of a cocoa bean with its elongated shape and grooves. A patent for the design was granted (notably without the Coca-Cola lettering as a means of protect the client) and selected by the company soon after.

The initial contract called for the bottles to be colored with “German Green,” which was later changed to “Georgia Green” as a nod to the company’s state of origin. It also specified that the glass weigh no less than 14.5 ounces. When filled, a bottle of crisp, refreshing Coca-Cola weighed over a pound.

As with any custom design, the new containers weren’t cheap and many bottlers hesitated at first, but as national ad campaigns started to roll out, the design eventually took over. The patent was renewed on Christmas Day in 1923, and the date on the side of the bottle was changed to December 25, 1923, which earned it the nickname, the “Christmas Bottle.” In 1951, the bottle was given Trademark status.

The design has undergone minor alterations throughout the years and at different times has been called the “hobbleskirt” bottle (a nod to a popular, early 20th century fashion) and the “Mae West” bottle because of its curves. And while we rarely drink out of glass bottles anymore, the unique 100-year-old design is still as recognizable as ever, just as intended. 

[h/t Boing Boing]

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John G. Mabanglo/Getty Images
The iMac Was Almost Called the MacMan
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John G. Mabanglo/Getty Images

After breaking out with its Macintosh line of personal computers in the 1980s, Apple was in a slump. Sales had flagged as Microsoft's Windows operating system made waves. In 1998, the company was set to unveil a product that it hoped would reinvigorate its brand.

And they almost blew it.

According to Ken Segall, the advertising genius behind their "Think Different" campaign, Apple founder Steve Jobs was expecting the iMac to reverse the company's ailing fortunes. Where older Macs had been boxy, beige, and bland, the iMac came in an assortment of colors and had a transparent chassis that showed off its circuitry. The problem, as Segall writes in his new book, Insanely Simple, was that Jobs didn't want to call it the iMac. He wanted to call it the MacMan.

"While that frightening name is banging around in your head, I'd like you to think for a moment about the art of product naming," Segall writes. "Because of all the things in this world that cry out for simplicity, product naming probably contains the most glaring examples of right and wrong. From some companies, you see names like 'iPhone.' From others you see names like ‘Casio G'zOne Commando' or the ‘Sony DVP SR200P/B' DVD player."

According to Segall, Jobs liked the fact that MacMan was slightly reminiscent of Sony's Walkman branding concept for its line of cassette players. (Later, Sony had a Discman, Pressman, and Talkman.) But Segall, who named products for a living, feared the name would take away from Apple's identity as being original. It was also gender-biased, and alienating an entire demographic of consumers was never a good thing.

Instead, Segall suggested "iMac," with the "i" for internet, because the unit was designed to connect easily to the web. Jobs "hated" the idea, along with other suggestions, even though Segall felt the iMac could provide a foundation to name other devices, just as Sony's Walkman had. Segall kept suggesting it, and Jobs eventually had it printed on a prototype model to see how it would look. After encouragement from his staff, he dropped MacMan. With this key contribution, Segall made sure no one would be lining up to buy a PhoneMan 10 years later. 

[h/t FastCoDesign]

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Warner Bros./iStock
The Bizarre Reason Burger King Wants to Keep It Out of Russia
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Warner Bros./iStock

For decades, Burger King and McDonald’s have been engaged in one of the most competitive corporate rivalries in fast food history. In the 1980s, the two actually went to court over accusations about Burger King's sourcing and preparation of meats. In 2016, a BK restaurant in Queens, New York, was draped in sheets and made to look like the ghost of McDonald’s.

The sniping continues, but this time McDonald’s isn’t really involved. According to The Hollywood Reporter and coming our way via Eater, the Russian branch of Burger King has filed a complaint with the country’s Federal Anti-Monopoly Service (FAS) over the recent horror blockbuster It. The reason? They claim the movie’s evil clown, Pennywise, is so reminiscent of Ronald McDonald that the release will constitute an unfair advertising opportunity for their competitor.

While this sounds like either a prank or publicity stunt hatched by Burger King’s marketing arm, the FAS confirmed to The Hollywood Reporter that the burger chain did indeed request the movie be banned. That doesn’t mean it’s not a marketing ploy—there must be economic advantages to comparing a chief competitor’s mascot to a child-murdering clown—but it does offer some substance to the claim. The FAS told the outlet that it “can’t be concerned” with a fictional character in a movie that has nothing to do with hamburgers, but hasn’t made any final decision.

Owing to the recent scary-clown hysteria, McDonald’s has actually dialed down Ronald’s appearances in public over the past two years, which does raise suspicion over what he’s been doing with his downtime. It: Chapter Two is scheduled to infuriate Burger King even more when it’s released in 2019.

[h/t Eater]  


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