Remember When, Chattanooga? Coke tasted best in a little green bottle

Chattanooga News-Free Press archive photo via / This 1965 photo, taken at the former Chattanooga Glass Co. in St. Elmo, shows a tour given to representatives of bottling companies during a trade convention here. Chattanooga Glass Co. made bottles for Coca-Cola among other soft drink brands.

Coca-Cola bottles were once made with cork stoppers that popped when they were removed — and that's how "pop" became a nickname for soft drinks.

The former Chattanooga Glass Co., an early supplier of Coke bottles, was around for the cork stopper era and later the metal "crown" era.

In the accompanying September 1965 photo from the archives of the Chattanooga News-Free Press, attendees at a conference of the Tennessee Bottlers of Carbonated Beverages toured the Chattanooga Glass plant in St. Elmo. More than 300 bottling executives and their spouses gathered to discuss industry trends.

(READ MORE: Do you remember this Broad Street landmark, Coca-Cola lovers?)

According to the Tennessee Historical Society's "Tennessee Encyclopedia" website, Chattanooga Glass Co. was founded in 1901 to make beer bottles, but later became a primary source of bottles for Coca-Cola when Prohibition temporarily shut down the breweries.

In 1899, three Chattanooga businessmen had secured the rights to bottle and sell Coca-Cola, and an industry was born.

"J. Frank Harrison, a relative of pioneer Chattanooga bottler John T. Lupton, bought the (Chattanooga Glass Co.) business in 1925 and expanded it to provide bottles for various cola producers," according to the Tennessee Historical Society.

(READ MORE: Coca-Cola marks 123 years of bottling in Chattanooga)

Chattanooga Glass Co. was sold to the Dorsey Corp. in 1960. In the 1980s, when there were still 300 production workers at the St. Elmo plant, another purchase changed the name to Diamond Container General, according to newspaper records. Eventually, aluminum cans and plastic bottles became the predominant soft drink containers as glass lost favor.

But in 1965, Chattanooga Glass Co. was still going great guns. When the bottling industry representatives visited in 1965, officials at the Alton Park plant showed off what was then "the first all-electric, gas-melting furnace in the United States to be used for the manufacture of glass containers."

A second multimillion-dollar electric furnace was installed at the plant in 1966, according to an article in the Chattanooga News-Free Press. The new furnace was reportedly capable of producing 140 million soft drink bottles a year, or about one bottle for every American adult in the 1960s.

The first soft drinks in aluminum cans were packaged in 1964.

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Remember When, Chattanooga? is published on Saturdays. Contact Mark Kennedy at or 423-757-6645.