The Coca-Cola formula is The Coca-Cola Company’s secret recipe for Coca-Cola. As a publicity marketing strategy started by Robert W. Woodruff, the company presents the formula as one of the most closely held trade secrets in modern business that only a few employees know or have access to. In reality, experienced perfumers and food scientists – today aided by modern analytical methods – can easily identify the composition of food products.
The basic, generic “cola” taste of both Coca-Cola and other competing cola drinks results from a blend of vanilla and cinnamon flavoring. The small differences in taste that distinguish one cola-flavored drink from another result from the inclusion of small amounts of other flavoring ingredients. Contrary to popular misconception, kola nut extract is not a prominent ingredient in cola-flavored drinks.
Published accounts say it contains or once contained sugar, caramel, caffeine, phosphoric acid, coca leaf and kola nut extract, lime extract, flavoring mixture, vanilla and glycerin. Merchandise 7X is the “secret ingredient” in Coca-Cola and has remained a secret since its invention in 1886. The description of the ingredient is kept in a security vault in a bank in Atlanta, Georgia. Alleged syrup recipes vary greatly, and Coca-Cola reluctantly admits the formula has changed over the decades. The formula was changed in 1935 with the help of Rabbi Tobias Geffen of Atlanta to allow it to be certified kosher.
In a much-publicized corporate disaster, Coca-Cola introduced New Coke in 1985. After public outcry, the recipe was restored to the original “classic” formula.
Recipes for other soft drinks and products – Pepsi-Cola, KFC chicken and McDonald’s special sauce – are also closely-guarded trade secrets, but the Coke formula certainly attracts the most attention.
Amateur sleuths have tried to reverse-engineer the production process and ingredients. The secret formula is the subject of books, speculation and marketing lore. The company consistently claims that all published recipes are incorrect.