Is Coca-Cola's secret out of the bottle?
Coca-Cola's brand is more valuable than its formula, marketing experts say.
February 16th, 2011
12:39 PM ET

Is Coca-Cola's secret out of the bottle?

It's something, but it's not the real thing, Coca-Cola says.

Rumors have been buzzing that the super-secret recipe for the iconic soft drink had finally been divulged through a 1979 newspaper clipping and a story on public radio's "This American Life."

"Rest assured that while many third parties have tried over time to crack the secret formula of Coca-Cola ... there truly is only one 'real thing,' " Ted Ryan, Coca-Cola's manager of archives and exhibits, wrote Wednesday on a company blog.

The company insists the formula is locked in a bank vault in Atlanta, Georgia, and only a handful of employees know it or have access to it.

The 19th-century handwritten list of ingredients that "This American Life" host Ira Glass found pictured in a 1979 column in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution may have been an attempt at a knockoff, Coca-Cola's official archivist, Phil Mooney, told CNN.

Interest in the secret recipe is so high that heavy traffic reportedly brought down the radio show's Web server after the segment aired.

While the formula Glass found might have some relation to the original product of the 1800s, it clearly is not today's recipe: The list of ingredients includes coca and alcohol, a Tuesday story in the Journal-Constitution notes.

All the secrecy is nothing more than marketing anyway, experts insist.

"Today, anybody with access to a sophisticated chemistry laboratory could analyze the formula of Coke, but no one can call a product called Coke other than the Coca-Cola Company," John Sicher, editor and publisher of "Beverage Digest," told the paper. "The so-called 'secret formula' is a wonderful story of lore and mystery, but in reality, the value today is the brand, not the formula."

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Filed under: Food • Georgia • U.S.
soundoff (223 Responses)
  1. Andy

    I don't think Coke has been the "real thing" since they went the ole high fructose syrup route, the only way to enjoy a "real thing" Coke is to buy Mexican with actual cane sugar...

    February 16, 2011 at 1:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • SteveJ


      February 16, 2011 at 1:55 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Fric

    I love a good ol' cold coke as much as the next guy, but after seeing a deer steak dissolved overnight while soaking in coke, I've really cut down on my soft drink consumption. I've also heard that Coca Cola uses the same acid that's in their product to degrease the engines on their trucks. You put enough sugar and corn syrup on a dog turd, you could most likely get it down.

    Yeah, it taste good, but they are very bad for you. No nutritional value what so ever. But, if it's not Coke, they say it's something else thats killin' ya. I never said I cut them completely out. 🙂

    February 16, 2011 at 1:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rhette

      Not one time EVER have I thought about how I wanted to garnish a dog turd until you brought it up! I'll leave you to your delicacies.

      You want some fries with that?!

      February 16, 2011 at 2:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Nick

      Ya but your stomach is designed to withstand that kind of acid, so unless you have some mucus eating dissorder I wouldnt worry about it. just take some tums...

      February 16, 2011 at 8:22 pm | Report abuse |
  3. UCFknightman

    Fun Fact...sort of related...check out Yue Yeun on Google, it's the SINGLE company that manufactures all the major shoe brands (Nike, Adidas/Reebok, Asics, etc). It's funny how people perceive "quality"...they're all made by the same hands and machinery!

    February 16, 2011 at 1:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • UCFknightman

      sorry...mispelled, Yue Yuen is the correct spelling of the single manufacturing company for major shoe companies. Everest textiles provides ALL of the textiles for the shoes also...

      February 16, 2011 at 1:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ray Kroc

      You can put Tom Colicchio and my uncle "Three Thumbs" Larry in the same kitchen with the same ingredients and the same tools, but Tom's bringing out a lemon-ginger souffle and Larry's going to run out of the kitchen screaming with his hair on fire and bacon grease in his underwear. Trust me. Sometimes quality isn't just in the perception.

      February 16, 2011 at 10:01 pm | Report abuse |
  4. NOYB

    "It's something, but it's not the real thing" is not exactly saying that "these are not the full and correct list of ingredients." Anyway, check out OpenCola!

    February 16, 2011 at 1:50 pm | Report abuse |
  5. A,rightTRIGGER,X,Righttrigger,...

    yes yes yes shutup yes

    February 16, 2011 at 2:09 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Tastycles

    This is bullcrap. Any scientist could figure out the formula in 10 minutes.

    February 16, 2011 at 2:11 pm | Report abuse |
  7. RunForTheHills

    The formula for coke is nothing like it used to be. Just in the past 5 years, they have added 20 calories worth of sugars to a can of Coke Classic – up to 150 now from 130 a few years ago. Sugary drinks are getting more sugary because it's a powerful addictor.

    February 16, 2011 at 2:14 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Colleen

    I love Coke I prefer coke over pepsi any day – I can't stand pepsi – too sweet for me

    February 16, 2011 at 2:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mmmmm

      Nothing is better than MY dr pepper!

      February 16, 2011 at 8:46 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Colleen

    I would love coke to come out with a chocolate coke drink.

    February 16, 2011 at 2:16 pm | Report abuse |
  10. PirateC

    I Prefer Pepsi its the best!

    February 16, 2011 at 2:23 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Archibald Vanderbuilt

    Just fap in your coke.

    February 16, 2011 at 2:24 pm | Report abuse |
  12. MoneyMike

    Oh yeah, Coke is great until you get diabetes from the loads and loads of sugar they put into it. I heard a little while ago that the surgeon general was contemplating putting warning labels on soda just like they do on cigarettes. Yeah, Coke and Pepsi taste different, but they're both basically the same, Sugar, carbonated water and food coloring. I think I'll stick with a beverage that isn't one of the leading causes of obesity in the country.

    February 16, 2011 at 2:26 pm | Report abuse |
  13. S. Green

    Coke is people.

    February 16, 2011 at 2:39 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Lala

    Why would anyone want that formula anyways???? IT POISEN, no one should drink soda SO BAD FOR YOU hello people!

    February 16, 2011 at 2:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • Arick

      It isn't very good for you, but you sound like a ditz.

      February 16, 2011 at 4:40 pm | Report abuse |
  15. AN70N10

    F Y I
    This is not the correct formula, there is one missing ingredient that is imported from Peru, in big big amounts...

    February 16, 2011 at 2:45 pm | Report abuse |
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