Old Bottles, New Meanings

Glass bottles have been used to store liquids for thousands of years. This old technology took on new power and new meaning in the 1890s as consumers read numerous reports of improper food preparation and tainted liquids like milk and cooking oil.

The California olive oil industry in this period fought to maintain standards of purity to combat fears that the oil in the bottles was diluted with cheaper, less desirable oils. Clear glass bottles allowed grocers and consumers to judge the product for themselves and, together with the industry’s “California Pure” olive oil marketing campaign, proved successful among health conscious Americans at the turn of the twentieth century.

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