Q&A on the News

Q: For many years the cost of a single, 6.5-ounce Coca-Cola in the patented glass bottle was 5 cents. I’d like to know when the price increased and by how much.

—Scott A. MacLean, Forest Park

A: Coca-Cola in the 6.5-ounce bottles sold for 5 cents each from 1886 to around 1959.

The price of Coke in the 6.5-ounce bottles began increasing in 1950.

They were sold for 6 cents in New York City in 1950, Time reported, and by 1955, prices were 5, 6, 7 or even 10 cents, depending on the area of the country, Daniel Levy, a professor of economics at Israel’s Bar-Ilan University, told Q&A on the News in an email.

Levy, who also is an adjunct/visiting professor at Emory, wrote “The Real Thing: Nominal Price Rigidity of the Nickel Coke, 1886–1959,” in 2003.

The article explains that the price remained 5 cents for about 70 years for a variety of reasons, including a contract between Coca-Cola and its bottlers and limited vending machine technology.

By 1959, “the last of the nickel Cokes (were) gone,” Levy wrote.

“So, the 5-cent price was fairly uniform,” he added. “However, once the (Coca-Cola Co.) let the nickel price go, the retailers felt free to set whatever price they thought was right for them and for the markets they were serving.”

Levy added that he might write a book on the subject.

Andy Johnston with Fast Copy News Service wrote this column. Do you have a question? We’ll try to get the answer. Call 404-222-2002 or email q&a@ajc.com (include name, phone and city).