Posts tagged ‘mystery’

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