Claim: Coca-Cola used to contain cocaine.
Origins: Coca-Cola was named back in 1885 for its two “medicinal” ingredients: extract of coca leaves and kola nuts. Just how much cocaine was originally in the
formulation is hard to determine, but the drink undeniably contained some cocaine in its early days. Frederick Allen describes the public attitude towards cocaine that existed as
The first stirrings of a national debate had begun over the negative aspects of cocaine, and manufacturers were growing defensive over charges that use of their products might lead to “cocainism” or the “cocaine habit”. The full-throated fury against cocaine was still a few years off, and Candler and Robinson were anxious to continue promoting the supposed benefits of the coca leaf, but there was no reason to risk putting more than a tiny bit of coca extract in their syrup. They cut the amount to a mere trace.
Allen also explains that cocaine continued to be an ingredient in the syrup in order to protect the trade name
But neither could Candler take the simple step of eliminating the fluid extract of coca leaves from the formula. Candler believed that his product’s name had to be descriptive, and that he must have at least some by-product of the coca leaf in the syrup (along with some kola) to protect his right to the name
How much cocaine was in that “mere trace” is impossible to say, but we do know that by 1902 it was as little as 1/400 of a grain of cocaine per ounce of syrup.
By Heath’s calculation, the amount of ecgonine [an alkaloid in the coca leaf that could be synthesized to create cocaine] was infinitesimal: no more than one part in
yes, at one time there was cocaine in
generations of drinkers into dope addicts, consider the following: back in 1885 it was far from uncommon to use cocaine in patent medicines (which is what
Barbara “hooked on a feeling” Mikkelson
Last updated: 19 May 2011
Allen, Frederick. Secret Formula. New York: HarperCollins, 1994. ISBN 0-88730-672-1 (pp. 35-36, 41-42, 45, 192). Miller, Michael. “Things Go Better with Coca Extract.” Rocky Mountain News. 22 November 1994 (p. A28). Morgan, Hal and Kerry Tucker. Rumor! New York: Penguin Books, 1984. ISBN 0-14-007036-2 (pp. 65-66). Pendergrast, Mark. For God, Country, and Coca-Cola. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1993. ISBN 0-684-19347-7.