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. Rory Sellers

    I don't understand the comment about the recipe containing coca and alcohol, so obviously it's not genuine. While alcohol has been eliminated, any knowledgable person knows Coke uses literally tons of coca leaf in Coca Cola. The cocaine has been removed, but coca is definitely used, to the present day, as a flavoring in coke.

    February 16, 2011 at 3:23 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Denvercherub

    You're all fat with rotting teeth. Stop drinking pop regardless..

    February 16, 2011 at 3:24 pm | Report abuse |
  3. I love Coke

    I can tell the difference between Coke and Pepsi. Coke has more bite and a little more "harshness" than Pepsi. Pepsi is much sweeter. Which is why I only drink Jim Beam with Coke. Coke adds character to bourbon.....Pepsi makes it too sweet.

    February 16, 2011 at 3:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • former SunTrust Employee

      LOL that is why they call it Rum n Coke.. not Rum n Pepsi.. or Rum n Shasta.. LOL

      February 16, 2011 at 3:33 pm | Report abuse |
  4. HillsBros

    As Rob stated earlier, I remember when Coke was made with real cane sugar and not that HFCS cr@p. All these years later and Coke still doesn't appeal to me. It tastes different everywhere you go out of each soda fountain. To make it more appealing and kick it up a notch I mix half Coke and half Diet Coke together at the fountain. Tastes a lot better to me. Try it out, you can always dump it if it doesn't appeal.

    February 16, 2011 at 3:26 pm | Report abuse |
  5. SLB

    Coke stopped being Coke in the early 80s when they replaced SUGAR with HIGH-FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP to save money. They called it "New Coke" for awhile, then dropped the "New." Try a Mexican-made Coca-Cola. It's the closest you'll get to the Old Coke!

    February 16, 2011 at 3:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • John in NY

      Or you could just drink a Pepsi throwback.

      February 16, 2011 at 4:32 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Seriously?

    Here's a tip: Drink water. The formula is simple -> 2 hydrogens, 1 oxygen. Doesn't rot your teeth, put pounds on your hips, or jack up your insulin. I'm pretty sure most restaurants serve it too.

    February 16, 2011 at 3:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • CokeKills

      I used to drink almost nothing but soda. I would have really bad heartburn all the time, my stomach never stopped making gross noises, always had gas, my teeth were rotting inside my head and terribly sensitive to everything, and I found it impossible to lose weight. I quit soda cold turkey two years ago. I have no more heartburn, no more gas/noises, no more tooth sensitivity, and I lost about 20 lbs. Now I drink nothing but water, milk, brewed tea and coffee. MAYBE once a month I'll have a soda but I almost can't stand it now because it's too sweet.

      February 16, 2011 at 3:56 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Tig Ol Bits

    Use cane sugar too...enough of this artificially created corn by-product crap

    February 16, 2011 at 3:38 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Bukkake

    I have a gigantic orgasm everytime I see a bottle of coke!

    February 16, 2011 at 3:39 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Ren

    Alright Green Hornet....Wheres the secret formula.........?

    February 16, 2011 at 3:39 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Steven

    Pepsi was actually started in New Bern, NC not New York. Yes you can taste a difference in the two as they use different amounts of carbonated water; any restaurant manager that tests the fountain machines can tell you that. Cocaine was in all soft drinks back in the day. New Coke was not a ploy to switch the sweeteners it was a decision to alter the flavor based on one market research study at the time. I do agree they need to switch the HFCS back to real Cane Sugar, i.e. "Mexican Coke" as some of you call it, as the flavor is much, much better...but then again, I drink water most of the time anyway and typically only drink soda when in a restaurant for lunch.

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

      Now that I know that Pepsi wasn't invented by godless yankees I'll drink it. Thanks for the help, Steven.

      February 16, 2011 at 8:18 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Patrick

    Sorry folks, I use Coke to clean my garage floor. No way I want to put that in my body. I drink Sprite but I don't think I would walk out of a good restaurant if they didn't have it.

    February 16, 2011 at 3:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jacks

      That is a good tip! thx:-)

      February 16, 2011 at 4:02 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Mike

    you leave a restaurant because they don't serve Coke?? What's the matter with some of you? Shouldn't drink that crap regardless of who makes it.

    February 16, 2011 at 3:48 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Wal

    Who cares...! Stop drinking that black thing...! It's was made to kill....!

    February 16, 2011 at 3:56 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Leslie the Lesbian

    Its ok, pepsi is better.

    February 16, 2011 at 4:00 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Jacks

    If you want to keep your teeth and not get fat, drink water.

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