March 24, 2011

I’m Back!

After a much-needed hiatus, I’ll be dusting off this old blog later this afternoon. Hopefully you’ll want to take the journey with me!

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February 16, 2011

Is Coke’s Secret Out!? Dun dun dunnnnnn.

Photo Credit: Voteprime, Flickr

 

How was that for dramatic?

Clutch your pearls and hold your breath, but the NPR Radio show “This American Life” may have uncovered the exact recipe for that bubbly cup of magic we all know lovingly as Coke.

The show’s staff recently stumbled across the February 8, 1979 edition of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, which published an article on page 28 about a leather-bound notebook that once belonged to Pemberton’s best friend, another pharmacist in the Atlanta area named R. R. Evans. The notebook contained a number of pharmacological recipes–but the main entry, for students of commercial history, was what’s believed to be the exact recipe for the soft drink: all of the ingredients listed with the exact amounts needed to whip up a batch. The Journal-Constitution piece also featured a photo of the page in Evans’ notebook detailing Coke recipe–essentially revealing the recipe to the world. But since 1979 well antedated the explosion of digital media, the photograph of the recipe didn’t travel far beyond the Atlanta area. (“Did ‘This American Life’ Discover Coke’s Secret Formula“, Brett Michael Dykes)

Why is this the first anyone has paid to the photo? It’s believed news about the photo never traveled far beyond the Atlanta area, that is until the explosion of…you guessed it, social media!

For those who aren’t aware, Coke has kept its recipe under wraps with great effort and mystique. Why? Your guess is as good as mine, but, if for no other reason, maybe for a little intrigue. According to the article:

Coke’s recipe is one of the most closely guarded secrets in American commerce, steeped in cloak-and-dagger lore. After businessman Asa Griggs Candler bought out Pemberton–who also conjured up cough medicines and blood purifiers, among other things–in 1887 for $2,300, the exact recipe for 7X was placed in the vault in an Atlanta bank. It’s been reported that only two company employees are privy to its ingredients and how they’re mixed at any given time–and that those two aren’t allowed to travel together out of fear that a traveling accident might take both of their lives.

According to company historian Mark Pendergrast, Candler was so paranoid about the recipe leaking out of his proprietary control that he would go through the company mail himself to prevent any employees from seeing invoices that might tip off its ingredients. (“Did ‘This American Life’ Discover Coke’s Secret Formula“, Brett Michael Dykes)

The two people who know the recipe can’t travel together?! Really?! That makes me suspect that maybe the rumors are true and cocaine is a main ingredient. I’m kidding. Sort of. Or am I?

You see, the story behind Coke is this:

Pemberton had reportedly hit upon the formula for Coke in an attempt to overcome the addiction to morphine he contracted after the Civil War, so it’s perhaps not surprising that, in addition to alcohol, the drink originally contained Coca leaves laced with cocaine. After Atlanta passed a local prohibition ordinance in the 1890s, the company took the booze out of the formula, and the company has used cocaine-free coca leaves since 1904.

Yup, that’s right. Coke was meant to heal, being coined at its debut as a remedy for pain, impotence and headaches. For those avid Jersey Shore viewers, some may even call the drink a blast in a glass.

Coke denies the validity and accuracy of the recent discovery, but what kind of hard-hitting journalist would I be if I didn’t give you the rumored recipe for Coke? Let me know if anyone decides to give it a try:

The recipe:

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

February 16, 2011

Social Media Statistics: You May Be Surprised

I find social media research entirely intriguing, so when I stumbled upon the following report, I was almost giddy. Check some of these out and tell me your heart rate doesn’t increase even a little:

 

Facebook

  • Chicago was the fastest growing city on Facebook in terms of usage in 2010. Houston was a close second. (AllFacebook.com)
  • During the average 20-minute period in 2010, there were: 1,5870,000 wall posts, 2,716,000 photos uploaded and 10,208,000 comments posted. (AllFacebook.com)
  • Indonesia has the second largest population on Facebook.

 

Twitter

 

All Social Media

  • The change in social media use among Baby Boomers 55-64 rose from 9% in Dec. 2008 to 43% in Dec. 2010 (Marketingcharts.com via David Erickson)
  • Social networking site usage grew 88 percent among Internet users aged 55-64 between April 2009 and May 2010 (Pew Research)

Source: 16 Social Media Statistics that May Surprise You, Arik Hanson

February 15, 2011

Oreos: Looking to be Liked

Exactly how well liked are Oreos? We’ll soon find out. The organization is on a mission to secure the most ‘likes’ on Facebook, in hopes of securing a Guinness World Record title.

The brand started pursuing this goal at 9 a.m. ET today and hopes to establish a new record since no current one exists. Guinness World Records people, however, set the bar at 45,000 likes within a 24-hour period. This morning, the Kraft-owned brand started the ball rolling with a post asking the brand’s 16.6 million fans to set the “likes” record. An hour or so later, Oreo seemed well on its way with more than 30,000 likes. (“Oreo Tries to Set Guinness Record for Facebook Likes“, Mashable, Todd Wasserman)

Oreo hopes to utilize publicity generated by the Guinness efforts to increase global brand awareness. It is already one of the five most engaged brands in social media, according to a recent study.

Could failing to reach the record be harmful to the brand image? Could the black and white cookie we all know and love be less lovable than we think? Time will tell.

February 12, 2011

What to Wear, What to Wear

Without advancing a stereotype, I’m the first to admit that despite having a fairly comprehensive wardrobe (ranging from sloppy t-shirts with kitschy sayings to blouses nearly crisp and starched enough they almost cause physical injury), there are days when I stand in my closet and haven’t the faintest idea what to wear. Now in my mid-twenties, I find myself naturally straying further away from the casual wear, leaning more toward more basic colors and silhouettes. This has also carried over into my now-growing professional wardrobe, which I’m being more cognizant of now that I’m out of school. Just today I made my way to the store, picking up some more career pieces.

In “Dress for the Job You Want”, Hewlett mocks one Swiss company’s (UBS), attempt to address work dress code, in a 43-page how-to of sorts, covering protocol on things like high heel height to hair coloring and makeup application expectations. Though excessive, undoubtedly, research conducted by other outlets reveals a true need in addressing corporate fashion and dress code.

Women, in particular, believed that dressing the part was a vital factor in attaining success: 53% of them felt aspiring female execs needed to toe a very conservative line, avoiding flashy make-up, plunging necklines, too-short or too-tight skirts, and long fingernails — exactly the sort of sartorial no-nos UBS spelled out. Indeed, half the women surveyed and 37% of the men considered appearance and EP to be intrinsically linked; they understood that if you don’t look the part of a leader, you’re not likely to be given the role. Far from imagining that appearance is a personal matter, they perceived that looking well-turned-out engenders self confidence, a trait they considered the bedrock of authentic leaders. (“Dress for the Job You Want“, Sylvia Ann Hewlett)

Looking professional and executive is struggle enough, but what about one’s sense of identity and personal style? As the article suggests:

The research also revealed, however, that it is one thing to grasp the importance of looking professional, and quite another to interpret the ever-shifting notions that define a professional appearance. Women, certainly, struggle more than men to achieve the look of leadership, a factor that contributes to their overall stall in middle- and upper-middle management. On the one hand, they’re told to conform; on the other, they’re advised to stand out. They’re told to downplay their sexuality, but warned against coming off as too mannish and threatening. They know they will be judged on their appearance, perhaps unreasonably so. (“Dress for the Job You Want“, Sylvia Ann Hewlett)

What’s the message here? It depends on who you ask and what you’re willing to put into practice. Unless and until organizations communicate the dress code expectations required of their employees, it’s inevitable that a fashion faux pas  or two may occur. UBS may have been a little heavy handed in their expectations, but ultimately, employees should know what is appropriate and tolerated and what simply isn’t. Personal style should only be incorporated into the workplace so long as it aligns with the organization’s image. That said, when in doubt, ask! If you’re unsure what may or may not be acceptable, asking for a refresher on the dress code isn’t out of the question, nor is doing a little research in the event you’re hesitant to ask. When in doubt, go the conservative route and think basics. And if you’re a girl, like me, who needs a pop of color in her life, a tasteful, colorful accessory will probably keep everyone satisfied.

For more resources on corporate fashion, check out the 20 Best Fashion Blogs for Professional Women.