Was Coke's secret recipe revealed by US radio show?
Wednesday 16 February 2011
An edgy public radio show has revealed what it purports to be the secret recipe for Coca Cola - a formula which has become the stuff of legend after decades of careful marketing by one of the world's most recognizable brands.
The recipe is supposedly kept in a locked vault, and Coke at one point had an advertising campaign about the two top executives who knew the secret and couldn't fly on the same plane or the formula could be lost forever.
"We think we may have found the original recipe for Coca Cola," said the host of "This American Life" Ira Glass in opening the hour-long program that aired over the weekend.
"One of the most famously guarded trade secrets on the planet - I have it right here and I am going to read it to you and read it to the world and make my case for why it is real, despite what Coca Cola may say."
The handwritten formula was discovered in a pharmacist's old book of recipes and published in the company's hometown paper - the Atlanta Journal Constitution - in 1979, Glass said.
"If that seems a strange and random place to find this kind of thing, well, Coke was invented by a pharmacist and was originally sold at pharmacy soda fountains," he said.
The book apparently originally belonged to an acquaintance of Coke's inventor, John Pemberton, and was then passed from one pharmacist to another before it was eventually discovered by the newspaper columnist.
The newspaper even published a picture of the recipe, which was clear enough to read each ingredient.
What convinced Glass is that the formula matched - and filled out - a partial recipe found in Coke's archives that also became public.
The secret "Merchandise Seven X" formula is allegedly made from:
20 drops of orange oil, 30 drops of lemon oil, 10 drops of nutmeg oil, five drops of coriander oil, 10 drops of neroli oil, 10 drops of cinnamon and eight ounces of alcohol.
Either two or 2.5 ounces of that flavoring is then mixed with:
Two pints of lime juice, an ounce of vanilla, 1.5 ounces of caramel color, 30 pounds of sugar and fluid extract of coca leaf - "which includes a small amount of cocaine," Glass said.
Unfortunately, the recipe tastes nothing like today's Coke, with modern labs much better at simulating flavors, and the original recipe being known for tasting like fruity medicine.
But that doesn't mean it's not the original recipe, Glass said.
A spokesperson for Coca Cola insisted that its secret was safe.
"The ingredients used in our beverages are listed on the product labels and many third parties - including 'This American Life' - have tried over time to crack the secret formula of Coca-Cola," spokeswoman Kerry Tressler said in an e-mail.
"Try as they might to crack that formula, there truly is only one "real thing."
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