Chronology of Coca-Cola Cans
1940 to 1976
The Coca-Cola Archives issued this document in 1976. It illustrates the different can styles used from the very first can design to the can design used beginning in 1970.
Coca-Cola was first introduced in cans in 1940. The original can design was a cone style can with a metal crown cap. Both 16- and 32-ounce cans were tested in the market from 1940 to 1942. But when WWII began, the shortage of materials made it necessary to put their testing on hold. Testing results up to this point indicated people didn’t like the taste of Coca-Cola in cans, as it gave it a metallic taste.
Postwar, cans were redesigned with a liner in the hope of producing a better tasting product. A new flat topped can with an improved liner was released in 1955 exclusively for distribution to the Armed Forces in the Pacific. This 12-ounce can was test marketed in New England and California in 1959 and was made available to the general public in 1960.
As you can see in the second photo, can designs continued to change throughout the 1960s and had a redesign again in 1970. In 1985 the Coca-Cola formula was changed and resulted in very negative reactions from the public. Later in 1985 the Coca-Cola Company returned to both the original formula and design used in the 1970s, with the word “Classic” added to the label.