“We need a new bottle, a distinctive package that will help us fight substitutions…we need a bottle which a person will recognize as a Coca-Cola bottle even when he feels it in the dark…” A dozen bottling manufacturers around the country responded to this appeal from the Atlanta, Georgia-based soft-drink company in 1915. The Root Glass Company in Terre Haute, Indiana won the bid.
One of four glass companies to establish itself in Terre Haute , Root Glass had set up shop in 1901. It specialized in light green, amber and flint beverage bottles for beer and soda water.
In 1913, a machinist named Earl Dean came up with the Coca-Cola bottle’s original design, alternately called the “hobble skirt” or the “Mae West.” Ironically, neither the kola nut nor the coca leaf, two of the key ingredients in the beverage’s original recipe, is represented in the bottle’s design.
Legend has it that Earl Dean mistakenly turned to the wrong page in the Encyclopedia Britannica, and based his sketches on the cacao tree seed pod. Its vertical ribbing and voluptuous curves are replicated in the contour bottle. The Root Glass Company plant’s original buildings were torn down in 1960, the same year the U.S. Patent Office granted a trademark to Coca-Cola’s contour bottle which remains one of the most recognizable icons in the world.