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. Leon Jaeger

    Coke,s secret was out years ago, A Zionist Corps that finance,s Nazi Israel,s Killing Machine.

    February 16, 2011 at 2:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ray Kroc

      Do you know who created PHP, the programming language that runs on almost every website on the net? J00Z! How does it feel to be part of the great Zionist Bilderberg ZOG conspiracy, Leon? You're in on it and you support the death of Palestinian babies every time you load a webpage! LEONARD HATES PALESTINIAN BABIES!

      February 16, 2011 at 10:27 pm | Report abuse |
  2. TriumPatriot

    Who cares if the secret's out. Coca-Cola < Pepsi < water.

    February 16, 2011 at 2:54 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Nick

    The secret ingredient is.....Love? Alright, who's been screwing with my mass spec?

    February 16, 2011 at 2:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • Denvercherub

      Well gay love to be exact 😛

      February 16, 2011 at 3:26 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Islander

    Coke's a girly drink Pepsi's cool!

    February 16, 2011 at 2:55 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Larry David

    Drink water it's better for you

    February 16, 2011 at 2:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • TriumPatriot

      YES!!!

      February 16, 2011 at 2:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • dike

      not bottled.....

      February 16, 2011 at 8:00 pm | Report abuse |
  6. hebdo27

    Dawg! I need to try some of that Mexican Coke, but I'm not sure where to get it up here in Canada!

    February 16, 2011 at 2:57 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Cesar

    Givvvvve me de formulaaa! Givvvve me de formulaaa!

    February 16, 2011 at 2:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mmmmm

      The Coke in your nose…puuuull iiiiiiiiiit oouuuut youuuurrrr noooosse!

      February 16, 2011 at 8:50 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Rob

    It's just a shame that Coca Cola decided to go with that nasty HFCS instead of real sugar. If you've ever wanted to remember what Coca Cola REALLY tasted like (after they took out the "coke" that is), I suggest buying some Mexican made Coca-Cola that lists "SUGAR" as an ingredient and not "And/Or Sugar High Fructose Corn Syrup" as an ingredient.

    February 16, 2011 at 3:00 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Pepsi is better

    Coke's secret is they use child sweat.

    Pepsi tastes sweeter and Cokes tastes drier.

    February 16, 2011 at 3:02 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Mario

    Better than coke is Fernet with coke in 20/80%. Argentinian (from cordoba) formula. Try it

    February 16, 2011 at 3:03 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Atlantan

    @Deb

    I LITERALLY do not drink Pepsi at a restaurant and LITERALLY avoid pepsi serving places at all costs. The only one I consider is taco bell, because it's freaking taco bell, and that is only on ocassion. Southerners and particularly Atlantans feel strongly about this. People may be dying overseas, but it's my money, we live in a democracy, if I choose not to spend my money on a particular product or in a particular store because of the products they sell doesn't mean I am ungrateful or selfish. It means I have the freedom to take my business elsewhere and do because I want COKE not PepsiWhere I buy my burger has nothing to do with dying kids or the water crisis overseas. That's a different topic for a different article. ..Also, Pepsi is practically unAmerican!

    February 16, 2011 at 3:10 pm | Report abuse |
  12. jpegger

    All soda is JUNK... Anyone who so vehemently and snobbishly advocates Coke over Pepsi (or vice versa) as the superior cola, is sadly nothing more than a connoisseur of CRAP.

    Folks... Sodas are just a plastic bottle filled with sugar and water. The only quality part about it comes from the billions of marketing dollars that create the advertisements that form your opinions about their taste.

    Currently, Coke is winning this marketing war (great brand) and therefore tastes "MUCH" better than Pepsi 😉 LOL

    Just drink water. Filtered Tap water, not bottled... Save money and be nicer to the environment:)

    February 16, 2011 at 3:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kristy

      Why??? So I can be a stuck up A– like you? No thanks, if I want to drink Coke that's my choice not yours. You go ahead a drink your water and I'll enjoy my Coke.

      February 16, 2011 at 3:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jacks

      So true, it is horrid stuff.

      February 16, 2011 at 4:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • jpegger

      Yes... Obviously It's your choice completely, Kristy. Just make sure to enjoy the rotten teeth, flabby hips and a lifetime of insulin shots that accompany soda drinking as well;)

      February 16, 2011 at 5:49 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Atlantan

    Also, there is definitely an obvious difference between Coke and Pepsi. I can tell immediately if a restaurant serves Pepsi, in which case I ask for them to take it back. Blind taste tests are inaccurate generally because the products are never kept in the same environments. Pepsi intentionally served flat Coke during their campaign 5 or 6 years ago. It made it a lot more difficult to tell because Pepsi isn't as carbonated as Coke, among other distinguishing differences.

    Sorry for the typos above. At work. Back to work I go.

    February 16, 2011 at 3:15 pm | Report abuse |
  14. former SunTrust Employee

    As a former SunTrust employee.. the vault in Atlanta is a SunTrust vault.. and let me tell you how PROUD SunTrust is of guarding that secret recipe..I think they said it like 100 times during the employee orientation.. LOL!! too bad though for guarding this secret receipe the employees did get break on Coke Products.. there were only COKE products in the lounges and you had to pay full price for them.. no freebies, no discounts... LOL!!!

    February 16, 2011 at 3:18 pm | Report abuse |
  15. former SunTrust Employee

    also if your lucky you used to be able to go to Disney's EPCOT and try different Coke and different Coke products made from around the world.. some were awesome.. some were down right NASTY!!

    February 16, 2011 at 3:21 pm | Report abuse |
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