Coca-Cola denied the public radio program had unearthed its secret recipe.
Spokeswoman Kerry Tressler said that "many third parties have tried over time to crack our secret formula," according to a report in
. "Try as they might, there's only one real thing. And that was not it."
"The company has always said, and as far as I know it's true, that at any given time only two people know how to mix the 7X flavoring ingredient," Mark Pendergrast, historian and author of
For God, Country and Coke
This American Life
. "Those two people never travel on the same plane in case it crashes; it's this carefully passed-on secret ritual and the formula is kept in a bank vault."
Pendergast claimed he found the original Coca-Cola recipe in 1993 while researching his book, finding it in Coke's archives.
The show's producers asked
and privately held
to try to replicate the recipe they unearthed.
One batch tasted too medicinal, leading producers to question the potency of essential oils available in today's market, compared with their counterparts over a century ago. Another blind taste test attempt, using weakened ingredients, led one taster to be fooled, unable to tell the difference between "the real thing" and the re-enactment.
In the end, however, the show's staff claimed failure.
Certainly one key ingredient, fluid extract of coca, was nearly impossible to replicate for Jones Soda or Sovereign Flavors. It involves stripping coca leaves of cocaine. Apparently Coca-Cola has an arrangement with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration whereby the company is permitted to import the leaves, but only one factory processes those leaves and does so exclusively for Coca-Cola.
Click to the next page to see the recipe.