In the book "Design to Grow," released earlier this year, Coca-Cola VP of innovation and entrepreneurship David Butler and co-author Linda Tischler designate the uniquely contoured bottle as one of seven marketing strategies that allowed The Coca-Cola Company to scale into a global behemoth.
When the Georgia businessman Asa Griggs Candler became the majority shareholder of Coca-Cola in 1888, two years after its invention, he set his sights on making Coke the nation's most popular cola through marketing and partnerships with regional bottlers.
See the evolution of Coca-Cola:
Coca-Cola through the years, Coke soda
The original Coke bottle turns 100 today -- here's how it got its iconic shape
UNITED STATES - CIRCA 1950s: Teenaged girl with bottle of Coca-Cola. (Photo by George Marks/Retrofile/Getty Images)
(GERMANY OUT) *23.03.1912-16.06.1977+Physiker, Raketenforscher, D/USA- PortrÃ¤t mit Coca-Cola-Flasche- 1963 (Photo by ullstein bild/ullstein bild via Getty Images)
FRANCE - MAY 01: Centenary of Coca-Cola In France In May, 1986. (Photo by Didier CONTANT/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)
BOHOL, PHILIPPINES - 1988/01/01: A lemur clings to a coke bottle. . (Photo by Roland Neveu/LightRocket via Getty Images)
Bottles of Coca-Cola, Tab, and Sprite on the shelf of a grocery store in New York City, USA, September 1988. (Photo by Barbara Alper/Getty Images)
SAN FRANCISCO - JANUARY 16: Bottles of Coca-Cola are seen on the shelf at Tower Market January 16, 2004 in San Francisco, California. Coca-Cola is being investigated by U.S. regulators over allegations raised by a former employee that it had inflated its earnings. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
SAN FRANCISCO - JANUARY 16: Cans of Coca-Cola are seen on the shelf at Tower Market January 16, 2004 in San Francisco, California. Coca-Cola is being investigated by U.S. regulators over allegations raised by a former employee that it had inflated its earnings. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - OCTOBER 20: Bottles of Coca-Cola and Diet Coke are displayed on a shelf in an Associated Supermarket in New York Thursday, October 20, 2005. Coca-Cola Co. said third-quarter profit surged 37 percent, the biggest gain in more than a year, as sales rebounded in the U.S. and demand for Powerade sports (Photo by Ramin Talaie/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
PARK RIDGE, IL - NOVEMBER 07: 2-Liter bottles of Vanilla Coke as seen in a grocery store November 7, 2005 in Park Ridge, Illinois. Atlanta-based Coca-Cola Co. has said it plans to discontinue its Vanilla Coke in the US by the end of the year. (Photo by Tim Boyle/Getty Images)
NEW YORK - FEBRUARY 19: A general view of the new aluminum Coca-Cola bottle at Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Fall 2009 Collections at Bryant Park on February 19, 2009 in New York City (Photo by Donald Bowers/Getty Images for The Coca Cola Company)
Bottles of Coca-Cola Co.'s Coke brand soda sit on a shelf behind the bar at Smith & Wollensky in New York, U.S., on Monday, Feb. 22, 2010. Coca-Cola Co., the world's biggest soda maker, agreed to buy the North American operations of bottler Coca-Cola Enterprises Inc., more than six months after PepsiCo Inc. moved to bring its bottlers in-house to cut costs. Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images
LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 19: Rita Ora attends photocall to celebrates 100 years of the Coca-Cola Contour Bottle at the Coca-Cola Contour Centenary Bar on March 19, 2015 in London, England. (Photo by Mike Marsland/WireImage)
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But by 1915, Candler was losing market share to hundreds of competitors. He launched a national contest for a new bottle design that would signal to consumers that Coke was a premium product that couldn't be confused with some other brown cola in an identical glass bottle.
The new bottle had to be able to be mass produced using existing equipment yet also be distinct.
The Root Glass Company in Terre Haute, Indiana, decided to enter the contest and base its design off the product's name. Shop foreman Alexander Samuelsson sent two members of his team to the local public library for ideas.
While combing through the dictionary for the word "coca" and words like it, Butler writes, mold shop supervisor Earl R. Dean came across an illustration for the cocoa plant that caught his attention.
Coca-Cola had nothing to do with cocoa, but the cocoa pod had a strange but appealing shape. He and his team got to work crafting a design akin to the pod. Root Glass filed a patent for the design on Nov. 16, 1915, under Samuelsson's name, and Coca-Cola executives loved it. The design won the competition.
Here's the original patent:
The Coca-Cola Company"By 1920, the contour bottle, as it's been called, had become the company's most celebrated artifact," Butler and Tischler write.
Over the past century, Coca-Cola has played with the shape and size of the bottle, and focused production on more easily manufactured and recycled versions.
But throughout the bottle's evolution, the company has kept its similarity to the cocoa pod intact:
The Coca-Cola Company
"That bottle has become one of the most recognized objects of the 20th century, in more than 200 countries," Butler and Tischler write.