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AMERICA GETS ITS DEPOSIT BACK

 ORELAND, Pa., Sept. 22 /PRNewswire/ -- It's been 50 years, but 100,000 of those that went to World War II with the GIs are finally coming home.
 These returning Americans are familiar in name and shape. They are the real thing, individuals that were built to last. And last they did, on a remote coral island in the South Pacific.
 They are a unique contingent of the famous "Coca-Cola Contour Bottle," standard issue to troops in the Pacific. Serving both as refreshment and a taste of home 6,000 miles away, their duty was on Emirau, a tiny atoll off Papua New Guinea from which the United States launched its liberation of the Philippines. 40,000 troops were on Emirau; Bob Hope provided the entertainment and Coke the beverages.
 While Coke bottles were often re-used, (nobody called it "recycling" 50 years ago) when the GIs shipped out, 100,000 bottles remained. Today, they're being recovered from island lagoons and returned to the United States in an unusual Rotary-led project to assist Emirau and its island neighbors.
 While little changed on Emirau, five decades have made major changes to the Coca-Cola bottle. Instead of slipping quietly into history, the Contour Bottle -- solid green or white glass, its shape a Coca-Cola trademark and its manufacture date and city often below the embossed symbol -- became an American icon. Its value skyrocketed; what was 5 cents full back then is $30 empty now.
 The bottles of Emirau, rare because of their number and history, became a sunken treasure. But because the island is on few maps, without telephones, boat and airplane schedules, they were untouched until an Australian stumbled across them two years ago.
 Seeing the bottles as a means to an end, Michael Couch enlisted the support of the service group Rotary. "The people of Emirau have nothing, not even a store selling Coca-Cola, yet they're surrounded by rich fishing waters. The things they need, such as a fishing cooperative, hospital and school, can be provided by these bottles."
 With the approval of Coca-Cola and certified authentic by the Papua New Guinea Government, Emirau's bottles are returning to America in elegant black-and-gold packs, to collectors, history buffs and to those who served in the Pacific.
 For more information on the Contour Bottle project, call 800-WW2-1942. The bottles are available in single, clear bottle packs ($29.90) and as a double (green and clear) pack ($59.90) plus shipping and handling.
 "America is getting back its Coke bottles, and the people of Emirau get the deposit," says Couch.
 Background, photographs, interviews available.
 -0- 9/22/93
 /CONTACT: Michael Couch, 215-584-8243 or (fax) 215-584-8247/


CO: Coca-Cola ST: Pennsylvania IN: FOD SU:

MF-LM -- LAFNS1 -- 4488 09/22/93 07:33 EDT
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Sep 22, 1993
Words:455
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