Iconic 6.5-ounce Coke bottle becomes history in US

Last Updated: Thu, Oct 11, 2012 09:10 hrs

The last 6.5-ounce bottle of Coke reached the end of the line at 11:48 am Tuesday.

The bottles, cast for the Minneapolis Coke bottling works in 1948 and filled at the Winona Coca-Cola Bottling Co., was the last glass returnable bottle of Coca-Cola filled and capped in the United States, Winona Daily News reported.

"This is the last one," LeRoy Telstad, vice president and general manager, said, holding the bottle high before handing it off to auctioneer Jon Kohner, who opened the bidding to a crowd of Coke executives, distributors and local Coca-Cola drinkers.

Five minutes and 2,000 dollars later, Michael Faber, president of Viking Coca-Cola of St. Cloud, became the proud owner of what is doubtless the most expensive bottle of pop ever sold in Winona.

Faber allowed a bottle opener nowhere near his prize acquisition.

"I plan to retire on this one day," he said of his one-of-a-kind purchase.

Anyone else who thirsts for their own sip of soft-drink history will have an opportunity beginning next week to purchase one of the remaining 5,879 bottles filled during the final bottling run.

Telstad said that the last 6.5-ounce bottles will be sold for 20 dollars each, with all proceeds going to resurface Winona's bike and walking paths.

The last run of returnable bottles in Winona "is the concluding chapter to a long story," Phil Mooney, Coca-Cola's chief archivist, who attended Tuesday's ceremony, said.

The Winona Coca-Cola Bottling Co. has been filling the bottle since it opened in 1932, 80 years ago.

"It's been a good, long run," company president Clint Kuhlmann said.

The first Coke was sold in 1886 at a drugstore soda fountain in Atlanta. Coke was strictly a soda fountain product until 1894, when a Vicksburg, Mississippi, Coca-Cola wholesaler, Ollie Biedenharn, got to wondering if people out in the country would buy in bottles the Coca-Cola they'd gotten a taste for when they came into town.

The bottled Coke first sold in Vicksburg and then across the country wouldn't be sold in what we know of as "Coke bottles" for 21 years, Mooney said.

The iconic Coke bottle was the product of a 1915 design competition won by the Root Glass Company of Terre Haute, Indiana. (ANI)

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