Attention dear can-lovers! It’s time for some cantastic history lesson again. In this issue of our series “Iconic Packaging”, we take a look at the story of the probably best-known can ever, the one and only red can of Coca Cola. Once created as some kind of patent medicine, it became the world’s most sold and drunk soft drink in the past 100 years. I mean it is really hard to imagine, that there’s somebody on this planet who doesn’t know Coca Cola.
From an Invention to a Brand
It all started back in 1886 in Atlanta, Georgia, when pharmacist Dr. John Pemberton created a simple fragrant, brown-coloured liquid and took it down a few steps to Jacob’s Pharmacy. There they mixed it with carbonated water and gave samples to costumers, who all agreed this new drink was tasty. First called “Pembertons French Wine Coca”, the name was later shortened as Pemberton’s bookkeeper, Frank Robinson, suggested to just call it Coca Cola. This name derives from the two main ingredients: cocaine extract and kola nut. The urban legend, that Coca Cola originally contained cocaine is therefore no myth but absolutely true, as it was as late as 1905 when it was removed from the recipe. Frank Robinson was also the one who first wrote the company’s name in his distinctive script, which is still the way Coca Cola is written today.
John Pemberton died just two years after his invention. Luckily, the businessman Asa Candler bought stake in Coca Cola before his death, and it was Candler who transformed it from an invention into a brand. With his brilliant marketing and aggressive promotion strategies, he laid the foundation of the future success of the soft drink.
The following decades were marked by spreading the business to more states and nations, as well as new inventions like the early version of the iconic contour bottle in 1916. A major step to becoming the global brand we all know today was ironically the Second World War as it laid the foundation for Coca Cola’s oversea businesses. Especially in the post-war era the brand became the symbol for the peaceful, fun and carefree American lifestyle of the 1950s, not at least because of the imagery of its advertisings.
An Iconic Can is Born
In the 1950s, the famous contour bottle was created and became the first symbol of the brand. But in 1960 another packaging was introduced to the public and quickly became as famous as the bottle: the first 12-ounce aluminium Coca Cola can. The early versions had an outlined contour bottle in the design, so customers would recognise it as the same beverage. The first variation of Coca Cola, the Diet Coke, was released in 1982 and fastly became the second most famous soft drink. Within the following years more variations were created, like Cherry Coke, Vanilla Coke and Coke Zero. Despite these innovations, the designs of the classic Coca Cola and the Diet Coke cans haven’t changed very much over the decades, and therefore became well-known symbols for the brand.
Today Coca Cola counts more than 400 brands, including over 160 low-calorie and no calorie-drinks in its range with 1.9 billion servings every day.
Are there any other iconic packagings, you can’t imagine your life without? Leave us a comment!