The Famous Coca-Cola Recipe: Do Only Two People Know It?

When it comes to our favorite sodas and pops, we often wonder about their ingredient lists. After all, the ingredient list or recipe is what makes each brand unique. For the last three-quarters of a century, the idea that the Coca-Cola formula has been kept a secret, only known to two individual Coca-Cola executives, has been perpetuated over and over again. This perpetuation came from two factors, the first being the media and the second being the company itself. Coca-Cola wanted to make sure that their drink appeared special in the consumers’ eyes and thereby stated that the formula was to be kept a secret. Read on to find out how all of this came about and why there is a misconception about only two individuals knowing the formula.

Do Only Two Executives Know Half The Formula?

Although Coca-Cola does have a “rule” about the secret formula being only privy to two executives, each of these men know how to make the syrup independently of one another. This misconception comes from another Southern company called Kentucky Fried Chicken, whose formula is mixed at two different locations and combined at a third. Rather, both men know the entire formula and can make the entire drink on their own. However, this rule is really more for the publicity value it brings rather than the actual notion that the recipe should be kept a secret. The reasoning here is anyone who could reproduce the drink, can’t market it as Coca-Cola and doesn’t have the global distribution that Coca-Cola does, therefore, the company isn’t in danger if the recipe is known to the world. Beyond this, Stepan Co’s New Jersey plant is the only one who possesses the necessary DEA permit to import the coca leaves into the United States and have them decocainized.

Here is How This Misconception Happened

The secrecy of the formula, according to Snopes, was revealed back in 1925 when the only written copy was retrieved from Ernest Woodruff’s safety deposit box in New York. Woodruff was the owner of Coca-Cola from 1916 to 1931. During this time, the company set a policy that stated that no one could view the formula without written permission from the Board of Directors and within the presence of the Chairman, President, or Corporate Secretary. This rule also dictated that only two company officials will know of the recipe at any given time, without the identities of these individuals being revealed. However, this was all a rouse to increase how “special” the drink appeared to the media, as at least four individuals (potentially more) were able to produce the syrup at any given time. It is also reasonable to assume that those who work on the manufacturing floor of Coca-Cola plants also know the recipe off by heart.

Is The Real Formula Out There?

Over the years, a lot of individuals have presented what they believe to be the original formula to the company. Coca-Cola just waves this off as not-authentic and moves on and no one can really say otherwise. However, back in 1993, a many who goes by the name of Mark Pendergrast published what he thought was Coke’s original formula taken from John Pemberton’s papers. John Pemberton developed the earliest version of Coke but sold off his rights to the drink before he passed in 1888. This formula can be found printed in For God, Country, and Coca-Cola. Unfortunately, even if this formula was indeed the original, the recipe had changes made to it between the 1886 marketing campaign of the recipe and the reign of Woodruff in the 1920s. Changes included removing cocaine, reducing caffeine, replacing citric acid, and using glycerine as a preservative. Due to these changes, it is safe to say that more than two individuals know about the formula, however, how many do know is a complete mystery.