Coca-Cola’s Secret Formula

This 125-year old secret Coke recipe has had more legends, both real and urban, attached to it than any other food recipe. But the secret is out… well, it was out since 1979 but few people knew about it.

Look!

The Coke History

Coke is certainly my favorite cola drink and has been since I was a kid. There are a few rebels out there who prefer Pepsi, but in my book, nothing beats a Coke fountain drink in a Route 66 or Vegas diner. I also enjoy Coke in the thick, tall Coke glass bottle (the kind with real sugar).

And many of us grew up with great commercials like this one with Mean Joe Green:

They just don’t make commercials like they used to!

Who Created Coke?

A pharmacist named John S. Pemberton created the formula in 1886. Legend is that he wrote the formula down in his diary before he died in 1888.

John Pemberton
John Stith Pemberton

But in the February 8, 1979 edition of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, an article published a page from a leather-bound notebook that once belonged to John Pemberton’s best friend, another pharmacist in the Atlanta area named R. R. Evans.  It is believed that the original Coke recipe (which could have changed since) was right there in Evan’s notebook!


Coke Receipt From Evan’s Notebook

Now, Let’s Reveal the Secret Coke Formula!

Now there are two “secrets” about the secret recipe. First, while the actual ingredients are well known (after all, it’s required to be written on the label), the distinct flavor is the “secret sauce” that gives Coke its unique flavor is the big discovery. This secret sauce is called the secret 7x flavor. The second secret is that the coca extract in the main recipe is actually cocaine (hence the name).

The Secret 7X Flavor (use 2 oz of flavor to 5 gals syrup):

  • Alcohol: 8 oz
  • Orange oil: 20 drops
  • Lemon oil: 30 drops
  • Nutmeg oil: 10 drops
  • Coriander: 5 drops
  • Neroli: 10 drops
  • Cinnamon: 10 drops

The Coke Recipe:

  • Fluid extract of Coca: 3 drams USP
  • Citric acid: 3 oz
  • Caffeine: 1 oz
  • Sugar: 30 (unclear quantity)
  • Water: 2.5 gal
  • Lime juice: 2 pints, 1 quart
  • Vanilla: 1 oz
  • Caramel: 1.5 oz or more for color

Yes, Coca-Cola Contains Cocaine!

No wonder it tastes so good! Up until 1909, each glass contained 9 milligrams of cocaine, but since then Coke uses “spent” coca leaves which are run through a process that extracts the cocaine. This extraction process leaves some cocaine alkaloids at a molecural level, in other words, making it legal… but you have to wonder how much of an impact those cocaine alkaloids have on that great, addictive taste.

I think it’s time to head to 7-Eleven…

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