The secret recipe of Coke has been hidden and locked down for 125 years. But apparently, not anymore. This American Life says they've found the ingredients that make up the delicious bubbly cola and have revealed it to our delight.
The story starts with John Pemberton, a Civil War veteran who's credited with inventing Coca-Cola. His original recipe was written down in a recipe book of various ointments and medicines that was passed down from generation to generation.
A photograph of that recipe, from that very recipe book, was taken in the Feb. 18, 1979, edition of the Atlanta-Journal Constitution and only recently came to light when Ira Glass from This American Life stumbled upon it. Glass tracked down other people who claimed to have discovered the recipe as well and though they didn't match up exactly, they were so strikingly similar that Glass concluded that this recipe was the original. Here it is:
Fluid extract of Coca: 3 drams USP
Citric acid: 3 oz
Caffeine: 1 oz
Sugar: 30 (unclear quantity)
Water: 2.5 gal
Lime juice: 2 pints, 1 quart
Vanilla: 1 oz
Caramel: 1.5 oz or more for color
The secret 7X flavor (use 2 oz of flavor to 5 gals syrup):
Alcohol: 8 oz
Orange oil: 20 drops
Lemon oil: 30 drops
Nutmeg oil: 10 drops
Coriander: 5 drops
Neroli: 10 drops
Cinnamon: 10 drops
Coke has become infamous in guarding their secret recipe with tales of the recipe being under 24 hour surveillance, Coca-Cola executives only knowing half the formula or that the two people who know the recipe can never fly together. It's added to the allure of Coke, for sure, but there's also some truth to the that. When Asa Candler, an early Coke President, bought the original formula from Pemberton in 1887, he was so paranoid about people stealing the recipe that he ordered that the recipe could never be written down again. He also removed all labels from the ingredient bottles and went through company mail to see if anyone was snitching.
Truth be told though, it's impossible to fully replicate Coke's recipe because there's one ingredient only Coca-Cola can get: fluid extract of coca (which is coca leaves stripped of cocaine). Only one factory can process those leaves and only Coca-Cola has a special deal with the DEA that allows them to use it. So even if the secret is out, we're still missing the Coke in our Cola. [This American life via Time]
Update: Coca-Cola predictably denied this recipe. Kerry Tressler, a Coca-Cola spokesperson, said "[Coca-Cola's] formulation is our company's most valued trade secret, and we will not be coming forward with that formula," Tressler said with a laugh. She said that there is always media interest in Coca-Cola — "It's one of the world's most valuable trademarks. People are very interested in that" [LA Times]