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. aviator

    The perennial trotting out of this 'story' doesn't qualify as news. Don't care.

    February 16, 2011 at 4:02 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Raziel Leiva

    Back to formulaaa?

    February 16, 2011 at 4:02 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Libertarian

    I miss the good old days (before I was born so I can't really miss them) when you could get cocaine in that stuff. Nothing beats stringing out the family on south american legal narcotics am I right? har har! Cheers!

    February 16, 2011 at 4:03 pm | Report abuse |
  4. TheMovieFan

    I really really wish Coca-Cola would sell Coke with real sugar and not corn syrup. I'm not Jewish but during Passover I stock up on Kosher Coke.

    If Coke people are reading this, I am quite willing to pay extra for the real Real Thing.

    February 16, 2011 at 4:05 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Vrrooomm Vroom

    Actually, I'm more interested in the recipe for Crown!

    February 16, 2011 at 4:11 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Ben Ben

    The formula has been out for years. Coke is just using some "secret" to keep sales up.

    February 16, 2011 at 4:15 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Peggy

    I am a self professed Coke-a-holic. I love the stuff – I don't want to know what is in Coke – I just wanted them to quit messing with the formula. There are fast food places in Birmingham that I will not buy a Coke because it tastes terrible.

    STOP MESSING WITH THE FORMULA – IT IS GOOD JUST LIKE IT IS.

    February 16, 2011 at 4:16 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Cesar

    Givvvvve me de formulaaa!!!

    February 16, 2011 at 4:23 pm | Report abuse |
  9. someguy

    This is the end of the world!!! Someone grab a bible or Google this!! Genesis 3:16! God warned us, and no one listens!!!! Please! Go read it!!!

    February 16, 2011 at 4:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • Hay Zoos

      I cant read, it appears I've drank too many high fructose corn syrup ladden Cokes!

      February 16, 2011 at 4:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • B.L. Zbub

      If the end of the world means I don't have to read this crap any more then I say bring on a double helping of Armageddon!

      February 16, 2011 at 10:49 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Hay Zoos

    Well, I can tell you what ISN't in Coke, and that is natural cane sugar. You have to live south of the border in Mexico to enjoy the luxury that is REAL sugar. Here in the states, us cattle get high fructose corn syrup. If you were wondering why that's such a bad thing, just google it. Thanks.

    February 16, 2011 at 4:42 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Hay Zoos

    Well, I can tell you what ISN't in Coke, and that is natural cane sugar. You have to live south of the border in Mexico to enjoy the luxury that is REAL sugar. Here in the states, us cattle get high fructose corn syrup. If you were wondering why that's such a bad thing, just google it. Thanks.

    February 16, 2011 at 4:45 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Cesar

    Givvvve me de foooormulaaaa! Givvvvve me de fooooormulaaa!

    February 16, 2011 at 4:59 pm | Report abuse |
  13. James

    I see everyone talking about cane sugar instead of HFCS, but when I asked for some Mexican Coke I didn't get anything that looked like soda. I will say it must have a pretty high in caffiene though, because I didn't sleep for days.

    February 16, 2011 at 5:06 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Howerz

    Honestly, i believe water is THE best. The only time in my life that i could recall drinking something besides water was when i was a baby, cause we all drank milk then. I admit that i don't drink just water, a little bit of orange soda sometimes, but all my life besides this year and when i was a baby i have drunk water. My little sister drinks allot of soda, and believe me, its not helping her at all. So drink at your risk of rotten teeth, bad breath, stomach problems and more that i don't have time to type. Bye readers 😛

    February 16, 2011 at 5:09 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Semminole

    as a former coke employee... and a market researcher.... pepsi does taste better but coke has a huge cult following. the average drinker cannot taste the difference between coke, pepsi, and generic brand cola... trust me i have done the experiments time and time again.

    February 16, 2011 at 5:19 pm | Report abuse |
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