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definition - Coca-Cola_formula

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Coca-Cola formula

  A glass of Coca-Cola

The Coca-Cola formula is The Coca-Cola Company's secret recipe for Coca-Cola. As a publicity, marketing, and intellectual property protection strategy started by Robert W. Woodruff, the company presents the formula as a closely held trade secret known only to a few employees, mostly executives.


  Original formula

Published versions say it contains sugar or high fructose corn syrup, caramel color, caffeine, phosphoric acid, coca extract, kola nut extract, lime extract, vanilla, and glycerin. Alleged syrup recipes vary greatly. The basic “cola” taste from Coca-Cola and competing cola drinks comes mainly from vanilla and cinnamon; distinctive tastes among various brands are the result of trace flavorings such as orange, lime and lemon and spices such as nutmeg.[1] Some natural colas also include kola nut; Coca-Cola does not, and chemical testing reveals none.[2]

Coca-Cola was originally one of hundreds of coca-based medicines that claimed benefits to health; in Coca-Cola's case it claimed to alleviate headaches and to be a "brain and nerve tonic".[3] Coca leaves were used in its preparation, and the small amounts of cocaine provided a buzz to drinkers.[4] In 1903 Coca-Cola removed cocaine from the formula, started using caffeine as the buzz-giving element,[4] and started dropping all the medicinal claims.[5][3] Coca-Cola replaced unprocessed coca leaves with "spent" coca leaves, which have gone through a cocaine extraction process, and served only to flavor the beverage.[5] These changes were in response to increasing pressure from the Food and Drug Administration, which was carrying on a campaign against harmful food ingredients and misleading claims, under the direction of Harvey Washington Wiley.[5] The coca leaves are imported from Peru, and they are treated by US chemical company Stepan, which then sells the de-cocainized residue to Coca-Cola.[6][7] Since 1929, the beverage only contains trace amounts of cocaine alkaloids, not enough to have any effect.[4][3] The Coca-Cola Company currently refuses to confirm whether Coca-Cola still contains spent coca leaves, saying that this is part of the secret formula.[8][9]

In 1911 the Food and Drug Administration tried to get caffeine removed from Coca-Cola's formula in United States v. Forty Barrels and Twenty Kegs of Coca-Cola, claiming that it was harmful to health. The FDA lost the case, but the decision was partly reversed in 1916 by the Supreme Court.[10][5] Coca-Cola settled to avoid further litigation, paying all legal costs and reducing the amount of caffeine in its product.[11][5] The government passed bills forcing caffeine to be listed in the ingredient list of beverages. A rumor claims the company uses carmine in Coca-Cola; the company says that it does not.[12]

  Other formulas

In the United States, Coca-Cola normally uses high-fructose corn syrup instead of sugar as its main sweetener. There are two main sources of sugar-based Coca-Cola in the United States:

  Kosher Coca-Cola

Kosher Coca-Cola produced for Passover is sold in 2-liter bottles with a yellow cap marked with an OU-P, indicating that the Orthodox Jewish Union certifies the soda as Kosher for Passover, or with a white cap with a CRC-P indicating that the certification is provided by the Chicago Rabbinical Council.

While the usual Coca-Cola formula is kosher (the original glycerin from beef tallow having been replaced by vegetable glycerin), during Passover Ashkenazi Jews do not consume Kitniyot, which prevents them from consuming high fructose corn syrup (HFCS).[13]

Even sugar-based formulas would still require certification of both the formula and the specific bottling plant, as the strictures of Kashrut on Passover are far higher and more complicated than usual kosher observance.

  Mexican Coca-Cola

In the United States, there is strong demand from Latin-American immigrant customers for the Coke they drank "back home", so Mexican sugar-based Coca-Cola in traditional contour bottles is sold in ethnic markets.[citation needed] In recent times, a cult following has emerged amongst younger Coke drinkers who believe this to be the pre-New Coke original formula. The company advises people seeking a sugar-based Coca-Cola to buy "Mexican Coke".[14]

  Coca-Cola commercial

On January 23, 2011, during an NFL commercial, Coca-Cola teased that they would share the secret formula only to flash a comical "formula" for a few frames. This required the use of DVR to freeze on the formula for any analysis, which ultimately proved to be a marketing ploy with no intention of sharing the full official formula. Ingredients listed in the commercial: Nutmeg Oil, Lime Juice, Cocoa, Vanilla, Caffeine, "flavoring", and a smile.

  Secret Formula on Display at World of Coca-Cola

On Dec. 8, 2011, Coca-Cola opened a permanent interactive exhibit at the World of Coca-Cola in Atlanta making the vault of secret formula visible to the public for the first time in history. The secret formula was moved to the exhibit from a SunTrust Banks vault in downtown Atlanta where it had been housed since 1925.[15]

After Dr. John S. Pemberton invented Coca-Cola in 1886, the formula was kept a close secret, only shared with a small group and not written down. In 1891, Asa Candler became the sole proprietor of Coca-Cola after purchasing the rights to the business. Then, in 1919, Ernest Woodruff and a group of investors purchased the Company from Candler and his family. To finance the purchase Woodruff arranged a loan and as collateral he provided documentation of the formula by asking Candler's son to commit the formula to paper. This was placed in a vault in the Guaranty Bank in New York until the loan was repaid in 1925. At that point, Woodruff reclaimed the secret formula and returned it to Atlanta and placed it in the Trust Company Bank, now SunTrust, where it remained until its recent move to the World of Coca-Cola.[16]

  Purported secret recipes

  Pemberton recipe

This recipe is attributed to a diary owned by Coca-Cola inventor, John S. Pemberton, just before his death in 1888. (U.S. measures).[17][18]

  • Ingredients:
    • 1 oz (28 g) caffeine citrate
    • 3 oz (85 g) citric acid
    • 1 US fl oz (30 ml) vanilla extract
    • 1 US qt (946 ml) lime juice
    • 2.5 oz (71 g) "flavoring," i.e., "Merchandise 7X"
    • 30 lb (14 kg) sugar
    • 4 US fl oz (118.3 ml) fluid extract of coca leaves (decocainized flavor essence of the coca leaf).
    • 2.5 US gal (9.5 l; 2.1 imp gal) water
    • caramel sufficient to give color
  • "Mix caffeine acid and lime juice in 1 quart boiling water add vanilla and flavoring when cool."
  • Flavoring (Merchandise 7X):
  • "Let stand 24 hours."

This recipe does not specify when or how the ingredients are mixed, or the flavoring oil quantity units of measure (though it implies that the "Merchandise 7X" was mixed first). This was common in recipes at the time, as it was assumed that preparers knew the method.

  Reed recipe

This recipe is attributed to pharmacist John Reed.[19][20]

  Merory recipe

Recipe is from Food Flavorings: Composition, Manufacture and Use. Makes one 1 US gallon (3.8 l; 0.83 imp gal) of syrup. Yield (used to flavor carbonated water at 1 US fl oz (30 ml) per bottle): 128 bottles, 6.5 US fl oz (190 ml).[21]

  • Mix 5 lb (2.3 kg) of sugar with just enough water to dissolve the sugar fully. (High-fructose corn syrup may be substituted for half the sugar.)
  • Add 1+14 oz (35 g) of caramel, 110 oz (3 g) caffeine, and 25 oz (11 g) phosphoric acid.
  • Extract the cocaine from 58 drachms (1.1 g) of coca leaf (Truxillo growth of coca preferred) with toluol; discard the cocaine extract.
  • Soak the coca leaves and kola nuts (both finely powdered); 15 drachms (0.35 g) in 34 oz (21 g) of 20% alcohol.
  • California white wine fortified to 20% strength was used as the soaking solution circa 1909, but Coca-Cola may have switched to a simple water/alcohol mixture.
  • After soaking, discard the coca and kola and add the liquid to the syrup.
  • Add 1 oz (28 g) lime juice (a former ingredient, evidently, that Coca-Cola now denies) or a substitute such as a water solution of citric acid and sodium citrate at lime-juice strength.
  • Mix together
    • 14 drachms (0.44 g) orange oil,
    • 110 drachms (0.18 g) cassia (Chinese cinnamon) oil,
    • 12 drachms (0.89 g) lemon oil, traces of
    • 25 drachms (0.71 g) nutmeg oil, and, if desired, traces of
    • coriander,
    • neroli, and
    • lavender oils.
  • Add 110 oz (2.8 g) water to the oil mixture and let stand for twenty-four hours at about 60 °F (16 °C). A cloudy layer will separate.
  • Take off the clear part of the liquid only and add the syrup.
  • Add 710 oz (20 g) glycerine (from vegetable source, not hog fat, so the drink can be sold to Jews and Muslims who observe their respective religion's dietary restrictions) and 310 drachms (0.53 g) of vanilla extract.
  • Add water (treated with chlorine) to make a gallon of syrup.

  Beal/This American Life recipe

On February 11, 2011, Ira Glass revealed on his PRI radio show, This American Life, that the secret formula to Coca-Cola had been uncovered in "Everett Beal's Recipe Book", reproduced in the February 28, 1979, issue of the The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The formula found basically matched the formula found in Pemberton's diary.[22][23][24] The recipe revealed contains:[25]

The secret 7X flavor (use 2 oz of flavor to 5 gals syrup):

  See also


  1. ^ Poundstone, William (1983), Big Secrets, William Morrow, ISBN 0-688-04830-7 
  2. ^ Catherine Meyers. "How Natural Is Your Cola?". Science NOW. http://news.sciencemag.org/sciencenow/2011/05/scienceshot-how-natural-is-your.html?rss=1. Retrieved 2011-05-08. 
  3. ^ a b c Rielly, Edward J. (7 August 2003), Baseball and American Culture: Across the Diamond, Routledge, p. 133, ISBN 978-0-7890-1485-6 
  4. ^ a b c Belén Boville Luca de Tena (2004), The cocaine war: in context : drugs and politics, Algora Publishing, pp. 61–62, ISBN 978-0-87586-294-1, http://books.google.es/books?id=QVrszTTSqasC&pg=PA61&dq=coca-cola+trace+cocaine&hl=ca&sa=X&ei=pyNCT96FEYaJhQeliNG2BQ&ved=0CDwQ6AEwAg#v=onepage&q=coca-cola%20trace%20cocaine&f=false 
  5. ^ a b c d e Ronald Hamowy (2007), Government and public health in America (illustrated ed.), Edward Elgar Publishing, pp. 140–141, ISBN 978-1-84542-911-9, http://books.google.es/books?id=TSn0SVM3GRcC&pg=PA250&dq=United+States+v.+Forty+Barrels+and+Twenty+Kegs+of+Coca-Cola,&hl=es&sa=X&ei=5hFCT_r3MtKZhQflnJXRBQ&ved=0CFwQ6AEwBw#v=onepage&q=143&f=false 
  6. ^ Benson, Drew (19 April 2004), "Coca kick in drinks spurs export fears", The Washington Times, http://www.washingtontimes.com/world/20040419-093635-4754r.htm, "Coke dropped cocaine from its recipe around 1900, but the secret formula still calls for a cocaine-free coca extract produced at a Stepan Co. factory in Maywood, New Jersey. Stepan buys about 100 metric tons of dried Peruvian coca leaves each year, said Marco Castillo, spokesman for Peru's state-owned National Coca Co." 
  7. ^ Rensselaer W. Lee III (1991). The White Labyrinth: Cocaine and Political Power. A Foreign Policy Research Institute book (reprinted ed.). Transaction Publishers. pp. 24–25. ISBN 1-56000-565-3, 9781560005650. http://books.google.com/?id=YmBkPjS53V0C. 
  8. ^ Langman, Jimmy (October 30, 2006), "Just Say Coca", Newsweek on MSNBC.com, http://www.newsweek.com/id/45077, retrieved 2007-05-05 
  9. ^ Ceaser, Mike (1 February 2006), Colombian farmers launch Coke rivals, Nasa Indian territory, Colombia: BBC News, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/business/4623350.stm, retrieved 2009-04-27 
  10. ^ FindLaw | Cases and Codes - U.S. Supreme Court - U.S. v. FORTY BARRELS AND TWENTY KEGS OF COCA COLA
  11. ^ "Pop psychology: The man who saved Coca-Cola", by Ludy T. Benjamin, Monitor on Psychology, February 2009, Vol 40, No. 2, p. 18
  12. ^ Products and Packaging Myths and Rumors - Cochineal, The Coca-Cola Company, accessed December 22, 2011.
  13. ^ American Jewish Historical Society: Beyond Seltzer Water: The Kashering of Coca-Cola from Chapters in American Jewish History
  14. ^ http://consumerist.com/2010/10/coca-cola-we-dont-need-to-make-a-cane-sugar-version-because-you-already-have-mexican-coke.html
  15. ^ Leon Stafford (December 8, 2011). "Coke hides its secret formula in plain sight in World of Coca-Cola move". Atlanta Journal-Constitution. http://www.ajc.com/business/coke-hides-its-secret-1254829.html. Retrieved December 19, 2011. 
  16. ^ "Coca-Cola Moves its Secret Formula to The World of Coca-Cola". The Coca-Cola Company. December 8, 2011. http://www.thecoca-colacompany.com/dynamic/press_center/2011/12/coca-cola-secret-formula-moves-to-the-world-of-coca-cola.html. Retrieved December 19, 2011. 
  17. ^ Mark Pendergrast, For God, Country and Coca-Cola, 2nd ed. Basic Books, 2000, ISBN 978-0-465-05468-8, pp. 456-57.
  18. ^ The Recipe and image (pdf), This American Life. See Radio episode and notes.
  19. ^ "John Reed & the Coke Formula". tn-roots.com. http://tn-roots.com/tndyer/family/reed.html. Retrieved 2009-11-14. 
  20. ^ Terry, Sue (August 1, 2005), A Rich Deliciously Satisfying Collection of Breakfast Recipes, My Best Book Publishing Company, ISBN 978-1-932586-43-5 
  21. ^ Merory, Joseph (1968). Food Flavorings: Composition, Manufacture and Use (2nd ed.). Westport, CT: AVI Publishing. 
  22. ^ Katie Rogers, "'This American Life' bursts Coca-Cola's bubble: What's in that original recipe, anyway?," Washington Post BlogPost, February 15, 2011, retrieved February 16, 2011.
  23. ^ Brett Michael Dykes, "Did NPR’s ‘This American Life’ discover Coke’s secret formula?," The Lookout, Yahoo! News, February 15, 2011.
  24. ^ David W. Freeman, "'This American Life' Reveals Coca-Cola's Secret Recipe (Full Ingredient List)," CBS News Healthwatch blogs, February 15, 2011.
  25. ^ The Recipe and image (pdf), This American Life.

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