Sharing more than a Coke: Terre Haute Coca-Cola bottle history

Folks shared more than a Coke at the Birthplace of the Coca-Cola Bottle Festival. They swapped collectibles and passed along stories about the famous brand and it's Terre Haute roots.

Posted: Sep. 22, 2018 7:54 PM
Updated: Sep. 23, 2018 8:54 PM

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTHI) -- Folks shared more than a Coke at the Birthplace of the Coca-Cola Bottle Festival. They swapped collectibles and passed along stories about the famous brand and it's Terre Haute roots.

Jeff Cummins has been collecting bottles since 1974 and is a member of the Coca-Cola Collectors Club. He traveled from Bloomington, Indiana with a small selection of his eight thousand bottles including commemorative items from the 80s and 90s.

Cummins says, "These are really hard to find. I like things like this. Things that aren't common. Things you can't find in the stores."

The Coca-Cola bottle is unique as is it's place in Terre Haute history.

Vigo County Historical Society Executive Director Marylee Hagan explains the story began in 1915 when the Coca-Cola Company had a contest to create what is now the iconic Coke bottle.  

"Mr. Root, who had the Root Glass Factory in Terre Haute, sent a team of his folks down to the library to kind of research and get an idea of what they thought the bottle might look like."

The group came across the cocoa pod and noted the stripes down it's sides.

Hagan says, "The Coca-Cola Company wanted a bottle that if you were in the dark or had closed your eyes you would still know just by feeling the bottle that it was a Coca-Cola bottle."

The bottle that won the contest was a little too fat in the middle for production so it was slimmed down to look like what everyone has come to recognize.

And the green tint? Hagan says that comes from Terre Haute sand. If bottles are made elsewhere, chemicals have to be added to the sand to make the green class.

It's a story collectors like Cummins know, too and are sharing through the festival.

The items on display for the festival, like the 40s and 50s ads, will be up at the new history center on Wabash Avenue. It is set to open in March of next year. The center will also feature a working soda shop.

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