The Coca-Cola formula is The Coca-Cola Company's secret recipe for Coca-Cola syrup that bottlers combine with carbonated water to create its line of cola soft drinks. As a publicity, marketing, and intellectual property protection strategy started by Robert W. Woodruff, the company presents the formula as a closely held trade secret known only to a few employees.
- 1 Ingredients
- 2 History
- 3 Formula variations in the United States
- 4 Purported secret recipes
- 5 Physical security of the secret recipe
- 6 Commercial teaser
- 7 See also
- 8 References
- 9 External links
The primary ingredients of Coca-Cola syrup include either high fructose corn syrup or sucrose derived from cane sugar, caramel color, caffeine, phosphoric acid, coca extract, lime extract, vanilla, and glycerin. High fructose corn syrup or sucrose are overwhelmingly the major added ingredients: one 600 ml bottle (≈20.29 U.S. fl. oz.) of Coca Cola contains the approximate equivalent of 15 teaspoons of sugar. However, contrary to what is implied by the "cola" name, Coca-Cola syrup does not contain any kola nut extract. Since no kola extracts are present in the recipe, the primary taste of Coca-Cola comes from vanilla and cinnamon with trace amounts of orange, lime and lemon and spices such as nutmeg.
Coca-Cola was originally one of hundreds of coca-based drinks that claimed medicinal properties and benefits to health; early marketing claimed that Coca-Cola alleviated headaches and acted as a "brain and nerve tonic". Coca leaves were used in Coca-Cola's preparation and the small amount of cocaine present in the product gave the drinker a "buzz". In 1903 Coca-Cola removed cocaine from the formula, substituting caffeine as the stimulating ingredient, while dropping all the product's medicinal claims. In response to increasing pressure from the United States Food and Drug Administration, which was carrying on a campaign against harmful food ingredients and misleading claims, Coca-Cola replaced unprocessed coca leaves with "spent" coca leaves, which flavored the product without providing any drug effect. It is believed that coca leaves are imported from Peru, then treated by US chemical company Stepan, which then sells the de-cocainized residue to Coca-Cola. The Coca-Cola Company declines to comment upon whether or not Coca-Cola contains spent coca leaves, deferring to the secret nature of the formula. Since 1929, the beverage has contained only trace amounts of cocaine alkaloids, which do not have any drug effect.
In 1911 the United States sued the Coca-Cola Company, citing the Pure Food and Drugs Act, in an attempt to force the Coca-Cola Company to remove caffeine from Coca-Cola syrup, claiming that caffeine was harmful to health. The United States lost the case, but the decision was partly reversed in a 1916 appeal to the United States Supreme Court. To avoid further litigation, the Coca-Cola Company settled, paying all legal costs and agreeing to reduce the amount of caffeine in its product. Congress passed laws requiring caffeine to be listed on the product's ingredients label.
Formula variations in the United States
In the United States, Coca-Cola primarily uses high-fructose corn syrup as a sweetener, having replaced sucrose from sugar cane in the 1980s. Coca-Cola made with cane sugar (sucrose) or a syrup-sucrose mixture is available in certain markets in 2-liter bottles in the weeks leading up to Passover and is available in most markets year round in 12-ounce glass bottles imported from Mexico.
Coca-Cola, in its typical formulation, was first certified Kosher in 1935 by rabbi Tobias Geffen when vegetable glycerin replaced beef tallow-derived glycerin. However, because Coca-Cola sold in the United States is typically sweetened using high-fructose corn syrup, a legume product by the definitions of Jewish kosher law, Jews of European ancestry cannot drink it during Passover, owing to their tradition of abstaining from legumes as well as from grain during the festival. Therefore, while Jews of Sephardic ancestry can drink it, Coca-Cola sweetened with corn syrup is not labelled Kosher for Passover in order to avoid confusion. In the weeks leading up to Passover, United States bottlers in certain markets with a substantial Jewish population substitute cane sugar for high-fructose corn syrup in order to obtain Kosher for Passover certification.
In most markets where Coca-Cola produced for Passover is sold, it is offered in 2-liter bottles with a yellow cap displaying the OU-P certification. In the greater Chicago, Illinois area, the local bottler offers 2-liter bottles with a white cap displaying the CRC-P certification.
In April 1985 the company briefly replaced the familiar Coca-Cola formula with one called "the new taste of Coke". This new formulation was not well received and after a few years was withdrawn from the market, replaced with a slight variation of the old recipe (the primary difference was that cane sugar was replaced with high-fructose corn syrup), briefly identified as "Classic Coke" before returning to its identity as simply "Coke".
In the United States, certain retailers created a demand for cane sugar sweetened Coca-Cola produced in Mexico. U.S. retailers obtained the Mexican produced product outside the official Coca-Cola distribution network and the imported product was not labelled in accordance with U.S. food labeling laws. Noticing the success of this product in local groceries and large chains such as Costco, the Coca-Cola Company began officially importing Coca-Cola produced in Mexico with proper labeling for distribution through official channels.
Cleveland, Ohio, bottler
The Cleveland, Ohio, bottler, which also serves a portion of Pennsylvania, never switched to high fructose corn syrup and continues to sell Coca-Cola produced with cane sugar.
Purported secret recipes
- 1 oz (28 g) caffeine citrate
- 3 oz (85 g) citric acid
- 1 US fl oz (30 ml) vanilla extract
- 1 US qt (946 ml) lime juice
- 2.5 oz (71 g) "flavoring," i.e., "Merchandise 7X"
- 30 lb (14 kg) sugar
- 4 US fl oz (118.3 ml) fluid extract of coca leaves (flavor essence of the coca leaf).
- 2.5 US gal (9.5 l; 2.1 imp gal) water
- caramel sufficient to give color
- "Mix caffeine acid and lime juice in 1 quart boiling water add vanilla and flavoring when cool."
- Flavoring (Merchandise 7X):
- "Let stand 24 hours."
This recipe does not specify when or how the ingredients are mixed, or the flavoring oil quantity units of measure (though it implies that the "Merchandise 7X" was mixed first). This was common in recipes at the time, as it was assumed that preparers knew the method.
- 30 lb (14 kg) sugar
- 2 US gal (7.6 l; 1.7 imp gal) water
- 1 US qt (950 ml) lime juice
- 4 oz (110 g) citrate of caffeine
- 2 oz (57 g) citric acid
- 1 US fl oz (30 ml) extract of vanilla
- 3⁄4 US fl oz (22.18 ml) fluid extract of kola nut
- 3⁄4 US fl oz (22.18 ml) fluid extract of coca
Recipe is from Food Flavorings: Composition, Manufacture and Use. Makes one 1 US gallon (3.8 l; 0.83 imp gal) of syrup. Yield (used to flavor carbonated water at 1 US fl oz (30 ml) per bottle): 128 bottles, 6.5 US fl oz (190 ml).
- Mix 5 lb (2.3 kg) of sugar with just enough water to dissolve the sugar fully. (High-fructose corn syrup may be substituted for half the sugar.)
- Add 1 1⁄4 oz (35 g) of caramel, 1⁄10 oz (3 g) caffeine, and 2⁄5 oz (11 g) phosphoric acid.
- Extract the cocaine from 5⁄8 drachm (1.1 g) of coca leaf (Truxillo growth of coca preferred) with toluol; discard the cocaine extract.
- Soak the coca leaves and kola nuts (both finely powdered); 1⁄5 drachm (0.35 g) in 3⁄4 oz (21 g) of 20% alcohol.
- California white wine fortified to 20% strength was used as the soaking solution circa 1909, but Coca-Cola may have switched to a simple water/alcohol mixture.
- After soaking, discard the coca and kola and add the liquid to the syrup.
- Add 1 oz (28 g) lime juice (a former ingredient, evidently, that Coca-Cola now denies) or a substitute such as a water solution of citric acid and sodium citrate at lime-juice strength.
- Mix together
- Add 1⁄10 oz (2.8 g) water to the oil mixture and let stand for twenty-four hours at about 60 °F (16 °C). A cloudy layer will separate.
- Take off the clear part of the liquid only and add the syrup.
- Add 7⁄10 oz (20 g) glycerine (from vegetable source, not hog fat, so the drink can be sold to Jews and Muslims who observe their respective religion's dietary restrictions) and 3⁄10 drachm (0.53 g) of vanilla extract.
- Add water (treated with chlorine) to make a gallon of syrup.
Beal/This American Life recipe
On February 11, 2011, Ira Glass said on his PRI radio show, This American Life, that the secret formula to Coca-Cola had been uncovered in "Everett Beal's Recipe Book", reproduced in the February 28, 1979, issue of the The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The formula found basically matched the formula found in Pemberton's diary. The recipe revealed contains:
- Fluid extract of Coca: 3 drams USP
- Citric acid: 3 oz
- Caffeine: 1 oz
- Sugar: 30 lbs
- Water: 2.5 gal
- Lime juice: 2 pints (1 quart)
- Vanilla: 1 oz
- Caramel: 1.5 oz or more for color
The secret 7X flavor (use 2 oz of flavor to 5 gals syrup):
- Alcohol: 8 oz
- Orange oil: 20 drops
- Cinnamon oil: 10 drops
- Lemon oil: 30 drops
- Coriander oil: 5 drops
- Nutmeg oil: 10 drops
- Neroli oil: 10 drops
Physical security of the secret recipe
After Dr. John S. Pemberton invented Coca-Cola in 1886, the formula was kept a close secret, only shared with a small group and not written down. In 1891, Asa Candler became the sole proprietor of Coca-Cola after purchasing the rights to the business. Then, in 1919, Ernest Woodruff and a group of investors purchased the Company from Candler and his family. To finance the purchase Woodruff arranged a loan and as collateral he provided documentation of the formula by asking Candler's son to commit the formula to paper. This was placed in a vault in the Guaranty Bank in New York until the loan was repaid in 1925. At that point, Woodruff reclaimed the secret formula and returned it to Atlanta and placed it in the Trust Company Bank, now SunTrust Bank, where it remained through 2011. On December 8, 2011, the Coca-Cola Company moved the secret formula to a purpose built vault in a permanent interactive exhibit at the World of Coca-Cola in Atlanta.
On January 23, 2011, during an NFL commercial, Coca-Cola teased that they would share the secret formula only to flash a comical "formula" for a few frames. This required the use of a video recording device to freeze on the formula for any analysis, which ultimately proved to be a marketing ploy with no intention of sharing the full official formula. Ingredients listed in the commercial included nutmeg oil, lime juice, cocoa, vanilla, caffeine, "flavoring" and a smile.
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- Coca-Cola et la formule secrète, documentary by Olivia Mokiejewski, directed by Romain Icard, shown on France 2 Infrarouge, January 8, 2013 (French)