Last month we started our look at the long history of Coca-Cola memorabilia and paraphernalia. This month we turn our attention to thermometers. Since the Rock Hill Coca-Cola Bottling Company has been around for over 100 years, we had the opportunity to see a lot of these items come and go. Recently, we’ve seen a surge in reproductions and new items designed with the vintage look available everywhere. One of the items that has seen a resurgence is the Coca-Cola thermometer.
Practical and Long-Lasting
Originally, Coca-Cola thermometers were made available because they were practical and so would be used for a long time. Before we all walked around with weather apps in our pockets, we had to check a nearby thermometer to know the temperature. Drug stores, soda fountains, and market shops would hang the thermometers up for the customers, sometimes leaving them there for many, many years.
The first Coca-Cola thermometers were produced in the 1920s. Since they were usually mounted in outdoor locations, they were typically made of metal. That’s part of why so many have lasted so long.
Once the now familiar Coke bottle shape became popular, the thermometers often took on that form. The bottle-shaped thermometers, then, served double-duty when it came to brand recognition. You can read more about the history of the Coke bottle here.
Changing Times Means Changing Designs
Most of the thermometers produced in the early twentieth century used a vertical, liquid-filled gauge. As the round, red button design gained prominence in the overall advertising for Coca-Cola, many of the thermometers incorporated that circle. These clock-style examples are instantly recognizable as a Coca-Cola product.
New Materials Also Change Design
A shifting aesthetic also came with a shift in manufacturing. The rise of plastics manufacturing in the mid-twentieth century led to more and more advertising products being produced with relatively inexpensive plastic. Fewer and fewer thermometers were made of metal and glass.
Sought After Collectible
Collectors looking to build a collection of Coca-Cola thermometers will have an easy time entering that portion of the market. Examples from every era are readily available at prices ranging from a couple of bucks to several hundred dollars.