Coke’s Secret Recipe Revealed?

Coke bottleThis article was originally published on Mar. 1, 2011.

Want to whip up a batch of Coca-Cola? You’ll need some vanilla, lime juice, caramel, cinnamon, coriander, 30 pounds of sugar, alcohol and the extract of a coca leaf–which is found in the illegal drug cocaine!

Fortunately, Coke doesn’t contain coca (or alcohol) any more, but it’s included in the original recipe and is where Coca-Cola got its name. Coke was created in 1886 by U.S. pharmacist John Pemberton.

The recipe for Coca-Cola is a closely guarded secret. If the recipe ever got out, everyone would know how to make the drink and that would mean that the company would likely go out of business. The recipe is such a secret that it’s believed only two employees know the entire recipe, and they are not allowed to travel together in case there is a plane or train accident and they are both killed, taking the recipe with them. The owner of Coke used to go through employees’ mail to make sure there was nothing that might tip people off to the recipe, such as bills from ingredient sellers.

So how did the recipe get out? Staff of the radio show “This American Life” in the U.S. were looking through some old magazines from the 1970s recently, and they found an interesting article. The article was about an old notebook that belonged to John Pemberton’s friend. There was a picture of the notebook, and it showed a recipe–believed to be the original recipe for Coke!

The company denies that this is the recipe, but experts say it’s likely pretty close. Either way, there’s definitely no word on the recipes for Diet Coke or Coke Zero.

Planning on brewing up some Coke yourself? Good luck getting some of these ingredients!

The secret recipe for Coke
Fluid extract of Coca: 3 drams
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 colour

The secret 7X flavour (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


Writing/Discussion Prompt
Coca-Cola is incredibly popular all around the world.  Do you think its popularity is because of the taste or because of the way it is advertised to consumers (songs, commercials, sponsoring important sporting events, celebrities advertising Coke)?

In your opinion, how important is advertising as a way to get people to like and buy a certain product?

Reading Prompt
At the end of the article, a recipe for Coke is given.  Why do you think the recipe is written as a list?  How do lists help you to understand information?

Identify some text features and explain how they help readers understand texts (OME, Reading: 2.3)

Identify a variety of text features and explain how they help readers understand texts (OME, Reading: 2.3)

Grammar Feature: Colon
A colon (:) is a punctuation mark that can be used in several ways.  In this article, a colon separates the type of ingredient from the quantity.  For example, “Cinnamon: 10 drops.” Can you think of any other ways in which people use colons in their writing?