By Mary T. McCarthy
It’s always fun to find a green bottle bottom, but once on a live beachcombing feed I found one that said “MILITARY” and couldn’t imagine its origin. Someone watching said “It’s a National Park Sprite!” and, happy as always to learn something from the beachcombing community, I couldn’t wait to get back to my “green” bin of glass, pull out other bottle bottoms and do some Googling.
It turns out The Coca-Cola Company has a long history with the National Park Service. In the 1930s, national parks were the settings for Coca-Cola advertisements, like a 1931 Yellowstone National Park ad depicting actual bears drinking Cokes. In the 1960s, Coca-Cola ran a bottle cap sweepstakes with the National Park Service encouraging Americans to “See America” with a grand prize worth $33,000.
As part of the 1960s promotion, and to further encourage Americans to visit parks, Coca-Cola released limited edition green Sprite bottles embossed on the bottoms with the names of 36 National Parks. The 1966 issue of Coca-Cola’s “Refresher” magazine published the list of the 36 National Parks that would be featured on the bottoms of the Sprite bottles.
Over time, Coca-Cola’s partnership with the parks has continued, with Coca-Cola pitching in $5 million for the Statue of Liberty restoration, $1 million at Yellowstone and Gettysburg National Military Parks for Visitor Education Centers, and millions to support trails programs and recycling at U.S. national parks.
I was delighted to find in my green bin that I had inadvertently collected a few of these limited edition bottle bottoms, and, while on the phone one day, I picked up my only whole Sprite bottle and discovered it was a National Park bottle! Soon after on a winter negative low tide, I found two more of them, and suddenly the list published in 1966 has become a checklist for me.
List of National Park bottles from “The Refresher,” May/June 1966, The Coca-Cola Company
So back to the beach I go. Come on, Statue of Liberty and Yellowstone, I know you’re out there!
Read more about antique and vintage bottles and how you can identify your beach glass bottle shards:
- A Rainbow of Bottle Colors
- Anatomy of a Bottle: Bottle Morphology
- Historical Bottle Lip Shapes
- Getting to the Bottom of It: Shard Identification of Bottle Bottoms
- My Indelible Love of Ink Bottles: Antique Ink Bottles
- Using Bottle Maker Marks to Identify Your Sea Glass
- Fishing for Codd in the River: Antique English Codd Bottles
- Sea Glass Pastels: Bottle origins of pastel-colored sea glass
- Treasures in the Chalk Streams: Antique bottles from England
- Vanuatu Coca Cola Bottles: Sea Foam Treasure Trove
- West Indies: Treasure Trove of Black Sea Glass
- True Daffy's Elixir Bottles
- Schlitz Royal Ruby Red Bottles
Learn how to identify your antique glass bottles
This article appeared in the Beachcombing Magazine July/August 2019 issue.
I was totally clueless about the National Parks on the bottom of SPRITE bottles until today!
While walking my dog on my road I’ve been looking at a green Sprite bottle so today I crossed the ditch & dug it up to my surprise it was not broke. This find is a 32 Oz. Yellowstone National Park with the cap still on it. The label is slightly faded in a spot or two and the cap has a little rust. but otherwise in very good shape.
I live in Hot Springs National Park, Arkansas.
Just out of curiosity sake, how much would a full set of each of the 36 bottles be worth today?
I love connecting. I have about half of the National State Park Sprite bottles.
Very good article. Thank you
Such a great article, thank you for your research! While hiking in the mountains of central Utah yesterday, my son found a sprite bottle with the Acadia National Park on the bottom. The glass was in perfect condition as is the labels. Even better is that the lid is still on it, rusted with a small rusted hole. No liquid inside, just a bit of mountain dirt. Such a cool find and even extra special that Sprite is his drink of choice.
I just found an empty Sprite bottle with Gettysburg Natl Mil Park embossed on the bottom! We also have SEVERAL Coca Cola bottles, some full and some empty. We plan to sell our finds if anyone is interested please contact me. I use to live in Avon Park Florida! I’m now in Alabama and find several glass bottles of all kinds!
I have a Yellowstone that is un opened!
Fun find, Frank! Happy the article helped!
At work today completing an excavation in Avon Park FL I found one of these bottles. It just happens to be a Yellowstone Natl Park. I had no idea that this was a promotional deal from Coke. Thanks for sharing the information on this topic.
Bucket List Item!!!!