Claim: Only two Coca-Cola executives know Coke’s formula, and each of them knows only half of it.
Origins: For three quarters of a century, rumors about the measures the
Well, lollipops to that notion. What’s special here isn’t the formula; it’s how the hulaballoo raised over it has been turned into yet another way to enhance the product’s cachet.
Coca-Cola’s two executives rule to the contrary, the whole notion is simply part of a media
Moreover, at least one of the ingredients called for in the recipe would be next to impossible to secure in the U.S. (or to bring into the country): decocainized flavor
essence of the coca leaf. As it now stands, only Stepan Co.’s New Jersey plant possesses the necessary DEA permit to import the leaves and remove the cocaine
from them. Anyone looking to reproduce the drink would have to go to Stepan to get one of the key ingredients, and Stepan would refuse to sell to them.
Okay, so keeping a tight lid on the recipe isn’t so vitally important. Where, then, did all this tap dancing about a secret formula come from?
Ernest Woodruff (he who was
But that was only the first step. That same year the company set a policy whereby no one could view the formula without written permission from the Board, and then only in the presence of the President, Chairman, or Corporate Secretary. Furthermore, the rule dictated that only two company officials would be allowed to know the recipe at any given time, and their identities were never to be disclosed for any reason. In keeping with the spirit of things, company policy was amended once air travel became the norm to preclude those two officers from ever flying on the same plane.
‘Twas all smoke and mirrors,
These days the
Throughout the years, a number of handwritten formulas have surfaced and have been presented to
Even so, that Holy Grail may already be in the public’s hands. In 1993, Mark Pendergrast published what he believed to be Coke’s original formula in For God, Country and Coca-Cola. He’d come across the following among John Pemberton’s papers:
(‘F.E. Coco’ stands for fluid extract of coca. The cola part of the product’s name comes from the kola nut, an ingredient that appears on the above list as ‘Citrate Caffein.’)
In a disingenuous way, even if the Pendergrast version were the original,
Is the Pendergrast version The Real Thing? Chances are it is (or perhaps, more accurately, it
A bit of a stir was created in 1996 during the divorce proceedings of Frank and Patti Robinson.
This great-grandfather who did the scribbling was Frank Mason Robinson, who was a partner of pharmacist John Pemberton. Robinson named the drink in 1886 and wrote the famous label in flowing script.
Barbara “extract(ing) information” Mikkelson
Last updated: 4 June 2011
Allen, Frederick. Secret Formula. New York: HarperCollins, 1994. ISBN 0-88730-672-1 (pp. 162,
Croft, Jay. “Battle Goes on Over Coca-Cola Papers.” The Atlanta Journal and Constitution. 13 March 1997 (p. H12). Miller, Michael. “Things Go Better with Coca Extract.” Rocky Mountain News. 22 November 1994 (p. A28). Pendergrast, Mark. For God, Country, and Coca-Cola. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1993. ISBN 0-684-19347-7 (pp. 421-425). Rochell, Anne. “Has Writer Cracked Big Secret of Coke?” The Atlanta Journal and Constitution. 25 April 1993 (p. H1). Sisler, David. “Revealing a Secret Truth That’s Worth Knowing.” The Augusta Chronicle. 28 February 1998 (p. A4).