How did that fluted green glass Coca-Cola bottle become the cultural icon it is today? Inspired by the cocoa bean and curved like a woman's dress, the classic "hobbleskirt" bottle was no accident. Swedish glassblower Alexander Samuelson carefully crafted the bottle in 1915 and thanks to his unique design, he was allowed him to patent it. Good thing, too: at the time, Coca-Cola was plagued by imitators (with such names as Koka-Nola, Ma Coca-Co, Toka-Cola and Koke) trying to pass off their similar soft drinks as the real deal.
Of course, Coke wasn't always so creatively packaged. In 1899, the soft drink was packaged in a common Hutchinson, a straight glass bottle with a metal stopper. But it was time for something more. As Harold Hirsch, Coca-Cola's head attorney, put it, "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. [We want] a bottle that we can adopt and call our own child."
By 1906, the brand started to find its look: the new amber bottles were imprinted with the now-iconic cursive logo and bore eye-catching diamond labels. But it wasn't until Samuelson's design, distributed by the Root Glass Company of Terre Haute, Indiana, that the bottle started to look like what we see today. The bottle was rounder than we see today, and bore no label, but it was unmistakably Coca-Cola.
By 1923, Coca-Cola had embraced the name Coke, developed its red and white color scheme, and started to sell its six-pack bottle carriers. By 1957, the bottles added labels to their lettered glass. In 1977, the Coca-Cola bottle, recognized by 99% of Americans by shape alone, finally got its registration as a trademark. As the accompanying ad campaign put it, "It's the real thing."
[h/t mental floss]