Alexander Samuelson from Surte, Sweden, has an important place in the history of Coca-Cola. When he was 20 years old, he and his 3 years older brother, Otto, decided to emigrate from Sweden to America (at that time no one in Sweden referred to the U.S.A. as anything else than America). In April 1883 the two brothers boarded the Wilson steamer Orlando. They were not the only ones from Sweden to emigrate. About 25 % of the population decided to seek their fortune somewhere else. Most of them chose as the Samuelson brothers to emigrate to America.
The brothers came to New York via Great Britain. Alexander decided to go on to Chicago. He started to work as a wagon-maker in Chicago, but since he had experience from Swedish glass industry (still famous for its good quality) he was hired at a glassworks in Illinois. Alexander was a good and ambitious worker and in 1895 he had become the president of the glassworks. The next 5 years he made a couple of revolutionary technical improvements in American glass industry. Alexander also worked for another glassworks before he went to the Root Glass Company in Terre Haute, Illinois.
The Root Glass Company was invited with around 30 other glassworks to compete to design a bottle for the beverage Coca-Cola that the pharmacist John S. Pemberton had created in 1886 but was sold in ordinary bottles or from soda fountains in different bars. The Coca-Cola Company thought that they needed a bottle that was recognisable by its look and by the way the bottle felt in your hand. It should be recognisable even in the dark. There had been a great many beverages with similar names and labels to the one of Coca-Cola, but they had nothing more in common with Coca-Cola. The content of them was not even close to Coca-Cola (as you all know, because the world has not tasted a beverage yet that beats Coca-Cola!).
The Root Glass Company won the design competition for the bottle that would be recognisable even if you grabbed it in total darkness. Alexander Samuelson and his assistants found through systematic research that neither the coca leave nor the cola nut, that had given Coca-Cola its name, could give enough inspiration for the design of the bottle. The cacao on the other hand gave them inspiration for the bottle. The cacao looks like a softly grooved ellipse.
The shape of the bottle fit in your hand as no bottle had done before. It was impossible to confuse the bottle with any other bottle because of its design. The first prototype was too curved to fit into the manufacturing process. It was modified and became a little bit thinner. It became The Coca-Cola bottle.
The bottle was registered November 16, 1915 at the American Patent Office in the name of Alexander Samuelson.
The bottle became a big success and in popular speech it was called Mae West after the Hollywood star.
Alexander changed the spelling from double s in Samuelsson (the common spelling in Sweden) to just one s as in Samuelson when he arrived to America. Alexander Samuelson died at the age of 73 but the bottle he created is still very much alive.
The text on this page is among other things based on the article "Svensk skapade världens mest berömda flaskmodell" written by Björn Borgström, published in Värnamo Nyheter. Unfortunately I don't know in which number and year, do you know? Send me an e-mail!
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