Thank you to Coca-Cola for an iconic invention – the 12-ounce mini bottle of soda – and it’s saying goodbye, too.
The world’s largest soda maker said on Wednesday that it would discontinue the bottle-cap bottle by April 2019, after almost six decades of shipping the product to the millions of cities around the world. The maker of the flagship brand of American soft drinks sold the 12-ounce plastic bottles as a way for customers to get more for their money with only half the volume of the actual bottle of Coke.
The company still produces 12-ounce bottles of regular Coke, but now those will be sold in 34-ounce bottles.
The company did not provide a reason for its decision to scale back on the size of its 12-ounce bottles, but it indicated that the move was part of a long-term strategy.
“In the United States, the sale of 12-ounce bottles continues to grow despite the availability of larger packaging,” it said in a statement. The company did not respond to requests for further comment.
The bottles became popular after the invention of a tiny plastic bottle for Belgium in 1951. The company produced the 12-ounce bottles in the U.S. two years later, and opened a factory in Texas in 1959.
The 12-ounce bottles replaced a gallon-sized beverage can as the U.S. standard for marketing Coca-Cola in supermarkets.
“It gave customers the room to choose their own taste,” said Mindy Lubber, the president of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a nonprofit advocacy group in Washington. “It made Coca-Cola much more manageable and affordable.”
But the cola maker in recent years has faced increased scrutiny and demands to change, including with changes to advertising practices, ingredients and health recommendations.
In 2013, the FDA changed its labeling standards on colas and other carbonated beverages, saying that larger doses of caffeine would be regulated as “dietary supplements.” The changes would end up reducing the labels’ allowed caffeine levels.
Most recently, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued a nutrition label for alcohol beverages, in part due to an increase in sales of beer and spirits containing zero-proof ingredients.
John Sicher, publisher of Beverage Digest, said the size of the 12-ounce bottles of Coca-Cola made them an especially notable symbol in the marketplace, citing the “therapeutic” benefits that they provide to some people, including children and teens.
“It’s the size we expect – the size we’ve grown up with,” he said.
After news broke of the company’s decision, Coca-Cola received a deluge of comments on its Facebook page, with more than 80,000 people talking about the bottles of soda in the most recent day of posting.