Many people think that their beach has a lot of Coke glass because a bottling plant was located nearby. Since 1889, The Coca-Cola Company has used a franchised distribution system, producing syrup concentrate that is sold to bottlers. Bottling partners in turn fill up the beverage containers and ship them throughout their territory. By the 1920s, The Coca-Cola Company had 1,000 bottling plants across the U.S., and by the start of World War II, Coke was bottled in 44 countries. During the war, Coca-Cola built an additional 64 international bottling plants to supply the troops. Most of these plants, however, were not located close to the beach.
Your beach might have a lot of Coke glass simply because Coke is extremely popular! The iconic contour bottle, designed in 1915, was the only packaging used by The Coca-Cola Company for 40 years. According to the company, if all the Coca-Cola ever produced were in 8-ounce contour bottles, and these bottles were laid end to end, they would reach the moon and back 2,051 times. Coke now comes in cans and plastic bottles, but that’s still leaves at least 40 years worth of bottles that were discarded over the years and may have ended up on your beach.
So the next time you find a piece of distinctive, wavy, sea-foam glass, your enjoyment of a great beach find is likely the result of someone else’s enjoyment of a cold drink on the beach many years ago.
This article appeared in the Beachcombing Magazine July/August 2021 issue.