Coca-Cola Tattoos: History, Meanings & Designs

Coca-Cola Tattoos: History, Meanings & Designs

Who doesn’t love a refreshing, ice-cold Coca-Cola on a hot day? Maybe you love them so much you want to immortalize the bottles in tattoo form, but you’re not sure about the history behind the tattoo?

Jacobs’ Pharmacy in Downtown Atlanta first sold Coca-Cola in 1886. The drink was developed as a non-addictive substitute for morphine, then marketed as a non-alcoholic “temperance drink.” Coca-Cola is a household name today and made 37.2 billion USD in 2021.

Talk about going from a hometown business to a mindboggling company! No wonder you’d want a tattoo for Coca-Cola. In this article, we’ll dive into Coca-Cola tattoos’ symbolism, meaning, characteristics, and location.

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What is the History of Coca-Cola Tattoos?

Created by pharmacist Dr. John Pemberton, the drink began in 1886 in Atlanta, Georgia. It wasn’t until January 1892 that Asa Chandler started The Coca-Cola Company. They only offered the beverage as a fountain drink for the first two years.

In 1894, a candy shop owner in Mississippi began to sell Coke in Hutchinson bottles – a typical, reusable bottle. Finally, in 1915, the Root Glass Company produced the modern, familiar glass bottle we know today. This is the most popular tattoo design for Coca-Cola.

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What Do Coca-Cola Tattoos Symbolize?

For years, Coca-Cola has symbolized friendship and refreshment. During WWII, military service personnel consumed more than 5 billion bottles of Coke. A Coke Company engineer had flown to Algiers and worked to open bottling plants as close to combat areas as possible – just so soldiers could have a taste of home.

Coke reinforced the friendship vibes when they began putting personalized names on cans. Not only was it a great gift to give to a friend, but it also made consumers feel like the company was personally gifting them a Coke.

I still remember when a Coke truck came to my State’s Fair and handed out personalized cans for a dollar. Because my name is so unique, I had never found a can with my name on it. I was able to punch it in, pay the dollar, and grab the can right there. I still have that empty can, and it still reminds me of my friends.

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What Do Coca-Cola Tattoos Mean?

Who wouldn’t love a matching Coca-Cola tattoo with their best friend? It’s not uncommon for people to tattoo a can of Coke with their name on it or the name of a loved one. 

Just like with symbolism, Coca-Cola cans mean friendship. It means sitting back, drinking America’s favorite soda, and probably watching a baseball game (those are all American things, right?). 

Tattooing a glass bottle may mean something different than tattooing a can. Maybe you remember the glass bottle from the dime shop down the street. Perhaps the soda can reminds you of birthday pizza parties or Friday night movies.

If the Coke bottle is broken or smashed, maybe it means there’s anger behind the tattoo. Any tattoo with glass has the opportunity to be designed with fractures or brakes. Perhaps it reminds you of chucking bottles at trains when you were young and dumb. Maybe it reminds you of someone who threw bottles at walls.

Remember, tattoos don’t have to mean anything as long as you enjoy them. They also don’t need to be happy.

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Characteristics of Coca-Cola Tattoos

Most Coca-Cola tattoos consist of the famous glass bottles, though some people do opt for the cans. The bottles are shiny and “reflective” and can have other elements like skulls, straws, roses, cigarettes, and food.

These tattoos work best as larger tattoos, so the artist has more room to work on the fine glass details. However, there are a few incredible micro tattoos that catch your eyes when you finally notice them. 

As for colorization, we all know the classic red labels and fonts. With brands like Coke, it’s unlikely the artist will take artistic freedom unless you ask for it. Everyone knows how a coke bottle is supposed to look.

Styles of Coca-Cola Tattoos

Most artists do Coke tattoos in full color or colored shading (meaning the outline and detail is black, and the only color is within the tattoo’s shading). This is because the red logo is easily recognizable and distinct. 

Full-color tattoos can take longer to heal and may require more aftercare than black and white tattoos. They’re also more sensitive to sun exposure as the color will fade faster depending on the pigment.

A particular style is micro-realism, as I mentioned above. This style takes years to perfect and can still fade and bleed together quickly. If you’re interested in this route, it’s imperative you do your research on a tattoo artist. 

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Where Do Coca-Cola Tattoos Usually Go?

The most popular places for these bottles are the arms and legs because the bottles have to be long and thin. Occasionally you may see one on someone’s side or rib cage. You could place the tattoo across your chest, side, or back if it’s a broken or smashed Coke bottle.

You can put the bottles on the top of your foot if your pain tolerance is high. Finally, though not wholeheartedly recommended, you can put COKE and COLA across your fists. I’m the last person to talk you out of a tattoo, but I think there are some better options.

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How To Choose an Artist for Coca-Cola Tattoos

Look for an artist with good glass work in their portfolio if you want a Coca-Cola bottle. Then, consider what other elements, if any, will be included in the tattoo. If it’s flowers, look for someone with floral work. If it’s cigarettes, look for someone good with line work.

If you want the bottle cap, look for an artist good at tattooing with negative space and whose healed tattoos have good color retention. 


No matter why you’re interested in a Coca-Cola tattoo, it’s great to know the history and common symbols before sitting in the chair and getting inked. From wartime to peace, Coke has a long history of being about friendship, joy, and perseverance. 

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