Why Southerners Will Always Prefer Coca-Cola in a Glass Bottle, According to a Southern Grandpa

“It was better back then, and it’s better now.”

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Simply put, Coca-Cola tastes better when had out of an old-fashioned glass bottle. It's not a silly myth. We're not here to argue, nor are we interested in making too many concessions—pun intended. It's a fact that pretty much anyone who has ever tried all the different options (bottles, cans, and fountains) won't deny, especially my Southern grandpa with a penchant for carbonation. It's the Coke he drank in the 1960s and the only one he is going to drink now, he says—but he swears he's not stubborn. He remembers back when you could pop a nickel in the old machine and an ice-cold bottle would clink into your hand. Pop off the cap and have a swig so fizzy "it'd make your nose burn." That's how you know it's a winner.

Vintage Coca-Cola Bottle
Getty Images/ullstein bild/Contributor

Throughout most of its history, Coca-Cola cost only a nickel each to enjoy and largely only came in glass bottles. From there, Southerners came to love it so much that we refer to almost any soft drink as a "Coke." In more recent decades, starting in the 1970s, the brand began to branch out with plastic bottles and aluminum cans to compete, which eventually drove the price up and led to quite the hotbed soda debate of glass versus aluminum versus plastic. To my grandpa, there is no debate. "It was better back then, and it's better now," he says.

Turns out, there is actual evidence behind the claim that Coke in a glass bottle tastes better than in plastic or aluminum, and it comes down to glass being the material that is least likely to affect the flavor. Plastic and aluminum both contain certain materials that some folks believe can affect the secret Coke formula in terms of taste and carbonation. Between the two, aluminum cans typically come in second place for tasters, thanks to a good showing of carbonation, with plastic bottles often taking the least favorite spot.

So glass might, in fact, offer the purest taste of Coca-Cola; but to be fair, some of it might also come down to nostalgia—who wouldn't want to put a nickel in a soda machine and hear that icy clink? Want to taste for yourself? Order old-fashioned Coca-Cola bottles from the comfort of your own home. (TO SHOP: $59.99 for pack of 24; amazon.com)

Go even further by also trying the cult-favorite Mexican Coca-Cola in glass bottles, which still contain pure cane sugar in lieu of corn syrup. "That stuff is too delicious for its own good," my grandpa warns. (TO SHOP: $39.99 for pack of six; amazon.com)

So if you prefer Coke in a glass bottle, know that you're not crazy. According to my Southern grandfather, it's the only way to go.

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