Birth of a bottle...
It was a hot summer day in June 1915, Chapman J. Root and three or four others were discussing a letter just received from the Coca-Cola Company. This was a form letter which had been mailed to glass manufacturers throughout the United States.
The Coca-Cola Company wanted a bottle, unique in shape and a design that would be recognized at a distance, a bottle which could be recognized even if felt in the dark. At the time, practically all soft drink bottlers were using the ordinary straight sided soda bottle with a pasted label or lettering in the mold to identify the beverage.
Earl R. Dean recalls:
"The question came up as to what Coca-Cola was made of. Mr. Root had his chauffeur, Roy Grimsly, take T.C. Edwards and me to the Fairbanks Library to see what we could find. It so happened we found in a book of reference, an article and a very good illustration of a pod that contributes to the flavor of Coca-Cola.
I was very much interested in the shape of the pod. It had a very short neck at the stem end and the body had four different diameters and vertical ribs which I incorporated into my first drawing to show Mr. Root the next morning. Mr. Root was well pleased and asked me if I could get a mold made in time to get a few sample bottles made before the fire went out, which would be 12:00 noon on the last working day of June. I told him that I would do the best I could.
Photo of Earl R. Dean standing next to the Johnny Bull Machine, the mold machine used to
produce the early Coca-Cola contour bottles.
Earl R. Dean tells his story of the hours leading up to
the creation of iconic Coca-Cola contour bottle.
It turned out to be a very close schedule and it was necessary to work on the mold the second day starting at 4:00 am till 2:00 am the next morning which added up to twenty-two hours. I could then see that I could complete the lettering and design cutting within the four hours. I would have the next morning to get it in the machine in time to be heated up and get the sample bottles made.
The Coca-Cola Company accepted this new designed bottle at once, but we could see there would have to be alterations on the lower and middle diameters in order to make the bottle practical. Mr. Root advised the Coca-Cola Company why it was necessary to make these alterations and that sample bottles would be made for their approval.
About a year or so after alterations were made on the first bottle, I came across two of the first samples that I had placed in my locker. I took one of them into the main office and it was agreeable that I keep the other one. The patent attorney came to Terre Haute from Indianapolis. He was handed a drawing showing the front and back view of the Coca-Cola bottle. He cut them apart and handed one to me saying he needed only one to send to Washington. I kept the bottle and drawing for many years and as I was getting up in years, I gave them to my son in California and he valued them highly."
-Excerpts from a letter written by Earl R. Dean to the Florida Coca-Cola Bottling Company, April 9, 1971