FOOD

Sip Through Time With 130 Years Of Vibrant Coca-Cola Ads

Laura by Laura Caseley
Laura is a writer, illustrator, and artist living in New York City.

If there’s something we can all consider a constant in American culture — at least for the past 120 years — it’s the ever-popular soda, Coca-Cola.

The sweet, caffeinated, and bubbly beverage has been a staple of ball games, lunches, and quick pick-me-ups for decades.

The soda first hit the market in 1886 and was originally intended to be a medicine and included coca leaves. But people liked the taste so much that carbonated water was added, making it a hugely popular soft drink with people of all ages.

Today, the company is massive and Coke products can be found worldwide. And although there are no longer coca leaves in the mix, the formula for the iconic beverage remains, to this day, a company secret.

Because it’s enjoyed such a long and rich history, many people feel a nostalgic pull towards Coca-Cola. It’s yielded some amazing DIY projects for people who love the brand, too, like this homemade Coca-Cola bar made from a vintage television. After all, it’s been a staple since before any of us were born!

This year, Coca-Cola turns 130, so we’re taking a look back at some of their most beautiful and historical ads. They’re really little works of art in their own rights. Let us know your favorite era and style in the comments!

[H/T: Ufunk, Beautiful Life]

Coca-Cola was first invented in 1886 and originally intended to be a medicine.

But soon, it became a popular soft drink thanks to its unique flavor and the kick of energy it provided.

The drink soon became incredibly popular.

This ad shows famous opera singer Lillian Nordica, who was featured in several Coca-Cola ads from the late 19th century. Her appearance in ads was an example of early celebrity endorsement.

Ever since its invention, the formula for this soft drink has been kept a heavily guarded secret.

However, we do know that in its early days, coca leaves were used in the recipe, but by 1904, any traces of cocaine were removed.

Today, coca leaves are still used, but for flavor only!

The beverage’s energy-boosting properties made it popular with people from all backgrounds, but it was marketed to men who worked in offices…

…and to women who stayed home. It was seen as a universally accessible — and acceptable — beverage.

An early logo for the company was this curved arrow. The drink was also associated with healthy, outdoor activity and robust energy.

Coke in bottles became popular in the late 1910s. The curved, “hobble skirt” design we still see today on Coke bottles originated in 1915.

And the bottles quickly caught on. Soon, people could take them home in six-pack containers, like this one from 1924. This brought the soda out of the fountain and into the home.

This ad from 1927 spells out, via cartoon, how the caffeinated beverage would help beat the groggy feeling that came with long drives and the middle of work days.

Santa and Coca-Cola teamed up in the early 1930s, with the company capitalizing on the red and white outfits already associated with Santa.

The most iconic images of Santa created for Coca-Cola were made by artist Haddon Sundblom.

Santa was a natural choice as he’d need the energy to stay out all night delivering toys!

In 1936, Coke was already celebrating its 50-year anniversary, and threw its own little nostalgic retrospective with these two bathing beauties to show how times had changed, but the drink hadn’t!

The female figure had always been a popular method of advertising, and Coca-Cola’s ads often reflect the fashions and attitudes of the times.

This 1936 ad shows a healthy and wholesome, but sophisticated woman. Interestingly, brunette women seemed to be perennially popular with this company.

With the onset of World War II, the ads reflected Coca-Cola’s dedication to the armed forces and giving them the energy, as well as the refreshment, they deserved.

This is when the soda really became a symbol of the U.S., too.

And they were sure to include the female members of the military, too.

Coca-Cola also pointed out that although wartime rations were in effect, the quality of the soda was still as good as ever.

After the war, Coca-Cola became a household staple, and was considered by many to be the perfect beverage for any social gathering.

And as you can see, the six-pack was still popular.

Throughout its history, Coke has been known for its universal appeal.

It’s marketed to kids and adults, men and women, and while it’s coldness makes it a great summer beverage, this ad from 1952 wants people to remember it year-round.

As technology changed, so did advertising.

This ad from 1960 reflects the era, but the idea of wholesomeness and the outdoors is still there.

And the 1960s wouldn’t be complete without a colorful recipe ad!

This one tells readers how to make a Coca-Cola float, and claims that any flavor works with the soda.

In the 1970s, the company’s ads almost exclusively featured photos, and their models had become considerable more diverse than the young, brunette women of the 1930s.

Instead, they showed everyday people in everyday situations, creating a relatable series of advertisements with broad appeal.

Today, Coca-Cola has over a century of experience creating ads that people can relate to.

Though the technology and the fashions may have changed, they’re actually remarkably similar to the earliest ads.

The smiling people and wholesome activities are still a central theme.

This look back through one company’s ads shows just how much things have changed — and how much they really haven’t!

If you’ve ever sipped a Coke on the beach, in a diner, at a barbecue, or on some other adventure, SHARE this unique look back in time with someone you know!