Michael Martone

Stylistic treatment of the word “root”, with the ohs scattered like gas bubbles

The Root Glass Company had originally lured Art Smith to The Crossroads of America. In 1915, the company entered a contest to design and exclusively manufacture a new proprietary bottle for the Coca-Cola Company. Their design, inspired by the ribbed and ellipsoid contour of the cocoa plant seedpod, shown here,

technical drawing of a ridged cocoa pod
won the competition handily and their “hobble-skirt” bottle, cast in the distinctive German Green glass, was an instant success, and the container remains connected to what it contains even today a century later. In 1921, the patent for the product was about to expire. Coca-Cola and Root embarked on a campaign, the first of its kind, to have not just the name or slogan or text about a product trademarked but also its actual package. Its vessel would speak the protected name. A shape would be a brand. To that end the companies hired a semi-ridged dirigible, similar to the one shown here,
black and white photograph of a dirigible against the sky
to hover over The Crossroads of America and through an act of subliminal free association have the public below connect the shape of the blimp to the bottle to the seedpod to the product. Art Smith contributed to the effort circling the oblong balloon and skywriting the company’s name in such a manner as its oblong Os seemed to effervesce, floating, making a halo of haloes around the airship.


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