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. dan

    this video should say: advertisement before you play it.

    February 16, 2011 at 5:25 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Gaucho420

    Coca Cola rocks. Secret, not secret, who cares, the drink is awesome and continues to be popular due to how good it tastes. Here's to you, Coke!

    February 16, 2011 at 5:38 pm | Report abuse |
  3. MisterPL

    I'm pretty sure Batman could get the formula if he really needed to.

    February 16, 2011 at 5:42 pm | Report abuse |
  4. cisco27

    Mmmm, I'm thirsty for a Coke now. Looks like this story worked.

    February 16, 2011 at 6:09 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Dr trour

    This article has no real information in it. I had to wiki it to find out what the ingredients probably are.

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

    I like the way CNN interviewed experts who tried their best to explain to them that the whole notion of a "secret formula" is nothing more then publicity folk lore since any lab could easilly test the product and figure out the recipe no problem.
    So after this revelation is relayed to CNN what do they do?
    They write a story with the headline "Is Coca-Cola's secret out of the bottle?" and put it on the front page. lol
    You guys are #1!

    February 16, 2011 at 6:20 pm | Report abuse |
  7. burn

    perhaps they never stopped using cocain..... supposedly they stop in the mid 70's but somethings bringing people back to keep drinking it..... personally I can't stand it.

    February 16, 2011 at 6:31 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Eduardo

    I love Coke! Beats Pepsi any day of the week!

    February 16, 2011 at 6:40 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Oran

    So if no one knows whats in it...how could the FDA approve of it. Or is it just one of those deals where you don't know the proper combination of ingredients?

    February 16, 2011 at 6:50 pm | Report abuse |
  10. squealy

    Water, anyone? Anyone at all???

    February 16, 2011 at 6:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • BnBGobo99

      Yes please! Frozen into small cubes and dropped into a glass of cold Coke.

      February 16, 2011 at 7:24 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Pepsi Drinker

    Why don't they have people follow the 1979 recipe and taste it! If its Coke are there not loyal Coke drinkers who could tell if is the recipe?

    February 16, 2011 at 6:58 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Cesar

    Givvvvvve me de fooooorrmuulaaa!!! Givvvvvve me de fooormuulaaa!

    February 16, 2011 at 7:00 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Andrew

    NO COKE, PEPSI!!!!!

    February 16, 2011 at 7:06 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Yummy

    Corn sugar and carbonated cat P plus other artificial flavors too hard to pronounce.

    Gourmets prefer it just a tad below room temp.

    February 16, 2011 at 7:06 pm | Report abuse |
  15. JayDeeTee

    This is a rediculous story for which the media wastes its time. First, stuff is not the best beverage to drink; it contributes to obesity in children and perpetuates the consumption of bad sugars. Second, it adds to the increasing proliferation of plastic refuse in our environment. Third, the real secret ingedient is pepper – big deal!!

    February 16, 2011 at 7:07 pm | Report abuse |
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