From the earliest days of Coca-Cola, brand recognition has been key to the company’s success. In the very first year of Coca-Cola’s existence, in fact, inventor Dr. John C. Pemberton made less in sales than he spent on advertising. These early signs and promotional items, however, insured that the name stuck, leading to future successful sales.
Long Lasting Advertisement
This early advertising took on many forms. In addition to the typical posters and print advertisements, Coca-Cola also produced an abundance of more permanent promotional pieces. These more practical and usable items far outlasted the ephemeral paper products. Items like trays, clocks, thermometers, and coolers served a function and so saw regular use, keeping the Coca-Cola name front and center and always in the public’s eye.
Starting with Trays
Over the next several months, we will be examining a few of the more interesting advertising and promotional items that have become some of the most sought-after collectibles in the world. We’ll start our journey through the world of Coca-Cola memorabilia with a look at one of the very earliest forms: serving trays.
Tin-plate Serving Trays
Given that Coca-Cola first gained popularity in respectable soda fountains, it’s no surprise that one of the first promotional items would be tin-plate serving and change trays.
Beginning in 1897, Coca-Cola made round trays available. By 1905 the round tray had been phased out in favor of the oval. In 1910, the rectangular tray debuted. Measuring 13¼ inches by 10½ inches, it would eventually become the standard.
Slogans, Logos, and Imagery
Only slightly different than a printed page, tin-plate trays served as the perfect medium for Coca-Cola’s popular slogans and logo. Although most people associate the trays with picture-heavy imagery, some trays feature little more than the iconic script.
Imagery through the Years
Because the trays were in original production throughout the first half of the twentieth century, a complete collection can basically serve as a chronicle of the evolving trends in American popular culture. The females featured on the trays embodied the frilly extravagance of the Victorian period through the strong war-brides of World War II.
More Items to Come
Check back with us each month for another memorabilia spotlight. Next time we’ll look at thermometers.