After my husband and I had been married a couple of years, I found his dirty little secret in the top of his closet.
By the way, as a Southerner, I am having a serious problem with this post. To us, everything is a coke. It doesn’t matter if I am offering you a Cheerwine, a Coke, or a Mountain Dew, I am going to ask you if you want a coke. Saying and writing “soda” is a struggle. I wanted to call this “Coke Bottles” but I had to change to “Soda Bottles”.
This is such a huge topic, I am not going to be able to do it much justice. I am going to give you a broad overview of soda bottle collecting.
Bottles have been made for hundreds of years. From the late 1700s to very early 1900s bottles were hand blown. Michael Owens invented the machine to make bottles in 1903, and it became more common by the 1908 or 1910. By 1915, probably half the bottles were made by machines. Machine-made bottles on average are worth much less and are much less interesting to collectors than are the earlier mouth-blown ones.
Most bottlers used paper labels or custom molded bottles to identify their products. Through the process of bottle washing and distribution, paper labels did not last long and had to be reapplied each time. This was time consuming and costly to the bottlers. Custom molded bottles could not achieve the bright colors and designs of the paper labeling. The applied color label process of painting soda bottles became available to soda bottle companies around 1936.
Dr Pepper Company is the oldest major manufacturer of soft drink concentrates and syrups in the United States. It is America’s unique flavor and was created, manufactured and sold beginning in 1885 in the Central Texas town of Waco. Older bottles, made before 1931, have raised lettering. After that, the lettering was pressed into the bottle.
The bottle in the very front center of this picture is our only one with raised lettering.
Coca-Cola was first served in 1886 in Atlanta, Georgia. John Pemberton, an Atlanta pharmacist, invented Coca-Cola when he combined a mysterious, dark liquid with carbonated water. It was advertised through signs, newspaper ads, coupons, bottles, trays, calendars, and even lamps and clocks. Collectors want anything with the word Coca-Cola, including a few rare products, like gum wrappers and cigar bands. The famous trademark was patented in 1893, straight sided clear or amber bottles were used until 1916, when the skirted green bottle was introduced.
Pepsi-Cola, the drink and the name, was invented in 1898 but was not trademarked until 1903. The logo was changed from an elaborate script to the modern block letters in 1963. Several different logos have been used. Until 1951, the words Pepsi and Cola were separated by 2 dashes. These bottles are called “double dash.” In 1951 the modern logo with a single hyphen was introduced. The company went bankrupt in 1931 and the trademark as sold. Loft Candy Company bought Pepsi-Cola in 1939.
Royal Crown Cola was created by a young pharmacist in Columbus, Georgia. After a disagreement with a local soda bottler, Claud A. Hatcher began creating his own soft drinks. The first product in the Royal Crown line was Royal Crown Ginger Ale in 1905, followed by Royal Crown Strawberry, and Royal Crown Root Beer. The company was renamed Chero-Cola in 1910, and in 1925, called Nehi Corporation after its colored and flavored drinks. In 1934, Chero-Cola was reformulated by Rufus Kamm, a chemist, and re-released as Royal Crown Cola.
This first picture is of Chero-Cola bottles.
Grapico was first sold in 1914 in New Orleans, Louisiana by J. Grossman’s Sons. In the summer of 1917, businessman R. R. Rochell and his Birmingham, Alabama based Grapico Bottling Works purchased Grapico syrup barrels from J. Grossman’s Sons and bottled and sold Grapico to the Alabama soft drink market.
NuGrape is a brand of grape-flavored soda pop. The NuGrape brand was invented in 1906, first bottled in 1921, and by April 1933, The National NuGrape Company was founded in Atlanta, Georgia. Today, NuGrape is usually found in parts of the southeast United States. NuGrape is almost impossible to find for sale west or north of Murfreesboro, Tennessee.
In 1916 Clayton J. Howell partnered with Neil C. Ward to create the Orange Crush Company. Ward was a beverage and extract chemist who perfected the process of blending ingredients to create an exclusive formula that yielded the zesty, all-natural orange flavor of Orange Crush. Soft drinks of the time often carried the surname of the inventor along with the product name and Ward was given the honors – Crush was first premiered as “Ward’s Orange Crush.”
Cheerwine was created in 1917 in Salisbury, North Carolina by a general store owner named L.D. Peeler. This soft drink with a hint of wild cherry became an immediate hit. Folks from all around the county came to LD’s store to give it a try. Soon cold cases all over North Carolina were filled with the “Nectar of North Carolina.” Today, L.D.’s great grandson Cliff Ritchie leads the company
Yoo-hoo story was created in the 1920’s when Mr. Natale Olivieri decided a chocolate drink would be a very successful addition to his Tru-Fruit fresh juice business. The drink soon became so successful that a major bottler/distributor began distributing Yoo-hoo. Yoo-hoo sales increased and distribution became more widespread. The following years saw continued success for Yoo-hoo, especially through the efforts of Yogi Berra and his Yankee teammates.
In 1929, C.L. Grigg’s invented a lemon-lime alternative to his Howdy Orange drink. It was first named Bib-Label Lithiated Lemon-Lime Soda, and became known as 7UP. Early advertising featured a winged 7UP logo with copy that read “a glorified drink in bottles only. Seven natural flavors blended into a savory, flavory drink with a real wallop.” The drink was so successful by 1936 that Grigg changed the name of The Howdy Corporation to The Seven-Up Company. By the late 1940s, 7UP had become the third best-selling soft drink in the world.
Fanta was originally developed by the Germans during WWII as a response to the bottling plants being cut off from official authorized Coca-Cola ingredients. After the war, the Coca-Cola Corporation regained possession of the plants—and the Fanta name. Today, there are 70 different flavors in the Fanta line.
Mountain Dew was trademarked in 1940 by two Knoxville, Tenn., brothers, Barney and Ally Hartman. The original concoction was a lemon-lime mixer, but the flavor was changed to mostly lemon in the late 1950s. The cartoon drawing of “Willy the Hillbilly” was trademarked in 1948. It was used on Mountain Dew labels until the early 1970s. During the 1950s and ’60s, the bottles also included the first name of individual bottlers or sellers-so it looked as though a moonshiner had personally brewed the contents. Pepsi bought Mountain Dew in 1964. If Pepsi is printed on your bottle, it dates from between 1964 and about 1973.
Soda carriers range from wooden crates meant to hold a dozen or more bottles to metal and cardboard carriers designed for six-packs. Some completely cardboard carriers from the 1930s feature the Coca-Cola logo at the top with Art Deco styling below, while others have wire handles and wood grips. In addition to wooden crates, soda companies also made wooden carriers for six-packs, sometimes out of planks of wood but in some cases made of bent veneers. Aluminum carriers from the 1950s came with wire handles, with or without wood grips, and are often embossed with the soda company logo on their widest sides.