Sprite and the National Parks

Pop, fountain drinks, flavored water, the possibilities for what it’s been called vary based on region and dialect; but undoubtedly everyone in the United States has heard of soda. An American staple for decades, soda is a large industry. Popular brands such as Coca-Cola and Pepsi are household names. With a recent gift of a collection of vintage soda bottles, we have discovered an advertisement that hits close to home utilizing the wide-spread popularity of the flavored drinks.

 

New bottles added to the collection. Donated by Robin Haight.

New bottles added to the collection. Donated by Robin Haight.

In 1966, operation “Golden Eagle” was introduced by the federal government. As part of this promotion of national parks and monuments a family could purchase a “golden permit” for $7 that would allow them to visit any national park as many times as they wanted between April of 1966 and March of 1967.

A 1966 Coca Cola publication.

A 1966 Coca Cola publication.

The Coca-Cola Company began an advertising promotion using the iconic green glass Sprite bottle. They produced a line of 7 to 10 ounce Sprite bottles embossed with the names of 36 national parks and monuments, ranging from the Lincoln Memorial to Yellowstone National Park. The Coca-Cola Company thought that by doing this, they not only could encourage visitors to use and enjoy America’s federal recreation areas, but create a unique collectors market. Various bottle manufactures sprang into action and began producing the new bottles. However, for reasons unknown, the promotion fell through. Instead of scrapping the bottles, the Company decided to put them into circulation in an effort to highlight the importance of the National Park system.

Zion National Park bottle.

Zion National Park bottle.

In the collection recently donated, 5 bottles have the names embossed on the bottom. These include: Mammoth Cave National Park (twice), Sequoia National Park, Big Bend National Park, and one we were very excited to find, Zion National Park. These bottles bring back fond memories and long after their contents are gone, they are still inspiring people to visit our National Parks.

 

For more about this promotion and a full list of the bottles produced, check out this article from the May 1966 issue of Coca-Cola’s own Refresher Magazine. Sprite National Park Promotion.

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A Look Into Our Collection: Bottles

Frontier Homestead recently acquired a large collection of glass bottles and canning jars from local Cedar City resident, Lois Bulloch. Over the next two weeks, we are excited to give you a look into the stories these bottles and jars tell. First, some history. Glass bottle production began with hand blown free form bottles, a labor intensive process, with most of the workers being young boys.  In 1904 the automatic bottle making machine, patented by Michael Joseph Owens, allowed for faster, less costly, and more consistent bottle production.

Machine made bottles have very refined vertical seams, identification marks on the bottom, and usually a small circle where the molten glass was automatically cut in the bottle machine.  Modern glass is thin walled and very clear. Antique glass is thicker and may contain bubbles of entrapped air.  Occasionally, older glass is tinted green or blue due to iron impurities, a lack of manganese, or because the tint was thought to be desirable.  Shades of purple and blue glass can be attributed to exposure to sunlight over  time, causing a chemical reaction in the composition of the glass. The following are only a few of the bottles in the collection:

 

Wine Bottle

Wine Bottle

Wine Bottle

Lois Bulloch Collection

Circa 1865-1920

This wine bottle was mouth blown in a dip mold. A dip mold forms the body of the bottle and produces bottles with slightly narrower bases which expand to larger shoulders, making it easier to get the bottle out of the mold.  The top was free-blown hence the slightly asymmetrical appearance.   Because dip molds are one piece units, there are no vertical mold seams, but there may be seams horizontally around the shoulder where the glass separates from the mold.  Generally no embossing is seen on dip molds.

 

Chamberlain Medicine Bottle

Chamberlain Medicine Bottle

Chamberlain Medicine Bottle

Lois Bulloch Collection

Circa 1900-1930

This bottle was hand blown into a bottle mold based on the rectangular shape with lots of embossing and the hand finished mouth.  The shape of the mouth this bottle indicates that it was probably fitted with a cork stopper.  The embossing says: “CHAMBERLAINS PAIN BALM, Chamberlain Medicine Co., Des Moines, IA, U.S.A.”  The company also made cough medicine, liniment and colic, cholera and diarrhea medicine.   The company has been in business for well over 100 years continues to make medicines today.

 

Whiskey Bottle - Post Prohibition

Whiskey Bottle – Post Prohibition

Whiskey Bottle – Post Prohibition

Lois Bulloch Collection

Circa 1932-1964

This bottle is tied to the post prohibition era, after 1932, as indicated by the embossing: “FEDERAL LAW FORBIDS SALE OR RE-USE OF THIS BOTTLE”.  The federal government wanted the revenues of the liquor trade after the repeal of prohibition in 1933 when the 21st Amendment to the Constitution repealed the 18th Amendment (1920).    Along with a requirement to destroy used bottles, marking bottles this way was supposed to keep bootleggers from using bottles that had already been taxed and thus avoiding taxes themselves.  Bootleg alcohol cost half as much as the fully taxed and legal variety so the profits made it worth the risk for these lawbreakers.  Other embossing on this bottle says: “MADE IN GREAT BRITAIN” and on the bottom is the bottle manufacturers mark, year and government registration number.

We have many more bottles for you to see in the museum. Our intrepid museum volunteer, Pete Wilkins has created an informative exhibit highlighting this collection.

Next Time: Jars