Coca-Cola Recipe Revealed

(Coca-Cola revealed recipe report updated with additional detail and comment from Coca-Cola.)

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Coca-Cola's ( KO) tightly guarded recipe was reportedly published by National Public Radio's This American Life earlier this week.

Coke

"The formula for Coca-Cola is one of the most jealously guarded trade secrets in the world," the radio program's Web site wrote. "Locked in a vault in Atlanta. Supposedly unreplicable. But we think we may have found the original recipe."

To find the top secret 125-year-old recipe This American Life turned to a 1979 edition of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, a newspaper in Coca-Cola's hometown of Atlanta. Apparently page 2B of the Feb. 18 edition contained a photo depicting a hand-written copy of John Pemberton's original recipe in a leather-bound recipe book, a book that contained other ointment and medicinal formulas and was passed down for generations to family and friends.

Coca-Cola was invented in the 1880s by a Pemberton, a pharmacist.

"I am not kidding," said This American Life host Glass at the top of the show. "One of the most famously guarded trade secrets on the planet: I have it right here and I am going to read it to you. I am going to read it to the world."

Rivals like PepsiCo ( PEP) have been fairly successful in coming close to Coca-Cola's signature taste, but the "Merchandise 7X flavoring" that provides Coke's unique flavor profile has remained an enigma.

Glass called Merchandise 7X "the cartoonishly super-secret, cloak-and-dagger name" of Coke's key ingredient.

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 ABC News. "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 told 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 Jones Soda ( JSDA) and privately held Sovereign Flavors 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.


The 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

  • 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
  • -- Written by Miriam Marcus Reimer in New York.

    >To contact the writer of this article, click here: Miriam Reimer.

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