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. Jair

    As said before. There's no such a secret!! Any scientist with a very well unabridged laboratory can find what's in the substance. Trying to discover the formula is a waste of time. Even though one could find it, using it wouldn't be worth it. The ingredients are Copyright Law.

    February 16, 2011 at 7:14 pm | Report abuse |
  2. unam

    I bet i could GOOGLE it and find the recipe!

    February 16, 2011 at 7:15 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Cesar

    Givvvvvve me de fooormulaaa! Givvvvve me de fooormulaaaa!

    February 16, 2011 at 7:38 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Southern Inbred

    Mexican Coke > Pepsi Throwback > RC Cola > Stop & Shop Cola >Shasta > HFCS Coke > HFCS Pepsi

    February 16, 2011 at 8:20 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Cesar

    Givvvvve me de ffforrrmulaaa!!!

    February 16, 2011 at 8:38 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Trina

    @deb – awareness of world hunger and selfish americans are not the topic. the only decadent fool is you.

    February 16, 2011 at 8:53 pm | Report abuse |
  7. bill

    Cold, in a can, is the best Coke. Unless you by Coke from Coke in an actual Coke container, the brix will probably be wrong and you can taste it. Very annoying when idiots ruin a great product and my meal.

    February 16, 2011 at 9:02 pm | Report abuse |
  8. jim

    As far as I know it was originally invented as cough syrup and contained coca plant extracts (the alcohol must have been the solvent). They tried to remove the coca after there was outrage from the propaganda of an anachronistic war on some drugs but it didn't taste the same customers complained. So they figured out a way to extract the cocaine and put the remaining plant matter back into the drink. That's the story I remember reading, can't remember the source

    February 16, 2011 at 9:08 pm | Report abuse |
  9. jim

    high fructose corn syrup is 50 times sweeter than sucrose (table sugar). Sweetness is like its own reward, people are driven to it. Then they add caffeine which makes the drinks addictive. Drink what you will; I sometimes drink soda, and yes I was socialized into drinking soda as if it is normal to drink bubbly drugged sugar water, just like you were.

    February 16, 2011 at 9:13 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Trina

    @Deb – enough with the world hunger speech. Are you doing your part to feed the hungry & thirsty?

    Get off your high horse, you might fall and break your neck. The decadent fool here is you.

    February 16, 2011 at 9:34 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Josh

    I'd like to buy the world a home and furnish it with love,

    Grow apple trees and honey bees, and snow white turtle doves.

    I'd like to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony,

    I'd like to buy the world a Coke and keep it company.

    [Repeat the last two lines, and in the background:]

    It's the real thing, Coke is what the world wants today.

    February 17, 2011 at 1:15 am | Report abuse |
  12. Cesar

    Givvvvve me de forrrmula!

    February 17, 2011 at 1:53 am | Report abuse |
  13. Cesar

    Help! I had four Cokes, and now I can't sleep.

    February 17, 2011 at 2:13 am | Report abuse |
  14. Cesar

    I use Coke to clean the corrosion from my car's battery terminal; the Coke's acid just eats away that rust and corrosion. Drink up.

    February 17, 2011 at 2:31 am | Report abuse |
    • Orina

      I sapot u my dear.coke of today is compleatly different from d coke of 90s.may my teste buds r failing me!

      February 18, 2011 at 9:42 am | Report abuse |
  15. Cesar

    A roast beef/white American cheese sandwich with mayo, lettuce, and tomato with chips and an ice cold Coke. Mmmmmmm.

    February 17, 2011 at 2:49 am | Report abuse |
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