This is a poor photo of a very interesting bottle, despite the fact that the boy running this soda cart in Mysore was being super helpful. (Below, some clearer photos of this type of bottle, courtesy of Wikipedia.) This is known as the Codd-neck bottle and you can read a full history and explanation below, but in short, the bottle is sealed via the use of a glass marble held in place by the pressure of the aerated soda; pressing the marble down either with a thumb or wooden plunger releases the seal, dropping the marble into the curved cavity and allowing the soda to pour out. I remember these bottles very well from my first trip to India, back when all soda pop in the country came this way. This was before the liberalization of India’s restrictions against imports, restrictions that had been instituted after Independence in an attempt to develop and protect homegrown industries. Now with liberalization has come classic consumer capitalism, less standardization, greater waste and plastic everywhere. Remember there are nearly 1.3 billion people in India, so changes such as this have significant consequences.
In 1872, British soft drink maker Hiram Codd of Camberwell, London, designed and patented a bottle designed specifically for carbonated drinks. The Codd-neck bottle was designed and manufactured to enclose a marble and a rubber washer/gasket in the neck. The bottles were filled upside down, and pressure of the gas in the bottle forced the marble against the washer, sealing in the carbonation. The bottle was pinched into a special shape, as can be seen in the photo to the left, to provide a chamber into which the marble was pushed to open the bottle. This prevented the marble from blocking the neck as the drink was poured.
Soon after its introduction, the bottle became extremely popular with the soft drink and brewing industries mainly in Europe, Asia and Australasia, though some alcohol drinkers disdained the use of the bottle. One etymologyof the term codswallop originates from beer sold in Codd bottles, though this is generally dismissed as a folk etymology.
Also, via here:
These bottles were intended to be returned to the factory to be used again, but no doubt many were broken by children to retrieve the colorful marble inside. With so many contours and narrow corners, this bottle seems as if it would been difficult to wash and re-use. Despite these limitations, the Codd stopper bottle and its imitators became the most widely used in England and Australia. In America most bottlers preferred the Hutchinson stopper, a rubber and wire plunger inside the bottle sealed by the pressurized liquid in a similar way.
On my recent trip to India I only saw these bottles rarely, and only in old-fashioned soda carts like this one. As I said, on my last trip these bottles were everywhere. Because the soda water was sterilized, it was a safe drink for foreigners and I must have drunk hundreds of bottles of it, while my boyfriend drank the sweeter stuff, mostly orange. There were no plastic water bottles anywhere to be seen.
By the way, these citrus soda carts are a brilliant idea. Delicious fresh lemon or lime sodas are made by mixing the plain soda water with freshly squeezed local citrus and local cane sugar, which is far better for you than our current sweeteners in North America. (High fructose corn syrup, which is unnatural, molecularly different and recently incontrovertibly linked to obesity, hasn’t been forced on India yet by the aggressive American corn industry.) Handmade lemon soda drink is far better than our soda pop here, and healthier too as long as the bottles are fully dried before refilling. Lastly it’s far better for the environment than anything we’re doing now. Plastic! Re-melting aluminum! Melting down glass! Argh.
You can see from the photo the sheer variation in colour of the bottles, suggesting many, many iterations. Also the fact that many of them are very chipped on the bottom. They have all been reused many, many times.
Below, a friend in Mysore has collected quite a few Indian Codd-neck bottles. It’s too bad they’ve become an object of nostalgia rather than a permanent fixture in soda consumption.
I have one of these myself, thanks to my sister’s genius for Christmas presents, but it’s an American not an Indian antique.