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The original formula of Coca-Cola

This page is in NOT sponsored, endorsed, or anyway affiliated
by Coca-Cola, and all trademarks are the property of Coca-Cola.

The following piece of parchment is a representation of a sheet of paper found in an old formulary book
that Coca-Cola inventor, John S. Pemberton, was using shortly before his death.

The secret

Some Notes On Preparing The Coca-Cola Formula

It takes 1 oz. of syrup mixed with carbonated water to make a 6.5 oz. serving of Coca-Cola.

"F.E. Coco" means fluid extract of coca (the plant that produces cocaine), however the recipe does not go into details as to how this extract was prepared. Another ol Coca-Cola formula in the possession of Frank Robinson's great-grandson1, indicates that 10 pounds of coca leaf are required to flavor 36 gallons of syrup. It is also believed that the coca plant with lower cocaine levels was used to produce the extract. This is based on some of Pemberton's writings that indicate some coca plants were too bitter (that was because of cocaine).

The cola in Coca-Cola comes from the kola nut, yet kola nuts are not mentioned in the above Coca-Cola formula. This was because the reason for using kola nuts was for their caffeine content, and Pemberton almost positively bought his "Citrate Caffein" from a company that derived their caffeine from kola nuts. (Pemberton had previously praised the German firm Merck of producing a superior form of the stimulant from kola nuts).

Where The Coca-Cola Formula Came From

This Coca-Cola formula appears to be the original formula to Coca-Cola. An author named Mark Pendergrast wrote a book about Coca-Cola entitled For God, Country and Coca-Cola. In writing this book he was able to interview just about anybody he wanted within Coca-Cola, and was also granted access to the vast archives of Coca-Cola. In reviewing archive material, he was presented with a book labeled:

Account and formula book
belonging to Dr. J.S. Pemberton
while a druggist in Columbus

He was told this was an early formula book (which would jive with the Columbus GA label). However, while reviewing the book Pendergrast came upon a recipe for "Celery Cola" and quickly realized that this was not an early formulary guide of Pemberton's. This was in fact a formulary book produced shortly before Pemberton's death, and there was a good chance that it contained the original Coca-Cola formula.

Pendergrast knew that "Celery Cola" was the recipe Pemberton was working on at the time of his death, and he was also aware of the story of Pemberton's apprentice and an old formulary book. The story went that a young man named John P. Turner went to apprentice with the elderly John Pemberton, and not long after starting his apprenticeship Mr. Pemberton died. Young Mr. Turner went back to his home of Columbus, GA., and took one of Pemberton's formulary books with him. In 1943, a son of Mr. Turner's happened to show the formulary book, which did contain a recipe for Coca-Cola, to a member of Coca-Cola's board. The board member managed to acquire the book from Turner's son, and no one had seen the book since (or at least until Pendergrast found it in their archives).

As Pendergrast looked through the old pages of what remained of Pemberton's formulary guide he came upon a page that was unlabeled except for an 'X' at the top of the page. Sure enough, he had found an original Coca-Cola formula. This is the formula that is shown above.

Pendergrast was also able to get confirmation that the above recipe was the original. At one time Coca-Cola was looking at selling a version of Coca-Cola in the Soviet Union. The company sent one of their people, Mladin Zarubica, to the U.S.S.R. and provided him with a slightly modified Coca-Cola formula. Zarubica was instructed to again modify the recipe to produce a clear Coca-Cola, however Coca-Cola later changed their mind and decided to wait awhile before selling Coke in the Soviet Union. In any event, Pendergrast interviewed Zarubica, and he showed Pendergrast the formula that Coca-Cola provided him. It was the same as the formula Pendergrast found in the Coca-Cola archives, except that the last two items (coriander & neroli oil) were missing. It even had the same misspelling of "F.E. Coco."

Over the years the Coca-Cola formula has been changed.
Asa Candler changed the formula, shortly after he acquired it, to stop imitators (at least 10 people knew the original formula when Candler bought the rights to Coca-Cola). Candler also added glycerin as a preservative, removed the cocaine, reduced the caffeine, and replaced the citric acid with phosphoric acid. In later years there may or may not have been further minor changes, but certainly corn syrup is now used as the sweetener instead of sugar. The flavoring component was also changed by Asa. He referred to it as 7X, yet Pemberton's formula only had 6 ingredients. Most likely, Asa added Lime Oil to the flavoring base and removed much of the lime juice (chemical analysis bears this out).

Asa wanted to keep his version of Coca-Cola completely secret, and he created a system whereby the ingredients were stripped of all labeling, and were referred to by numbers 1 through 9. Asa Candler and Frank Robinson were the only two individuals who knew the Coca-Cola formula or were even permitted into the lab. Lastly, all invoices were intercepted by Asa. When the company grew to the point where he could not handle the invoices himself, he had his suppliers use his numbering system of 1 to 9 on their invoices. This numbering system has since been figured out, and been reported in several books, and breaks down as follows:

Merchandise # 1 is sugar

Merchandise # 2 is caramel

Merchandise # 3 is caffeine

Merchandise # 4 is phosphoric acid

Merchandise # 5 is a coca leaf & cola nut extract

Merchandise # 6 is probably lime juice, but was incorporated into merchandise # 7 as an oil

Merchandise # 7X is the flavoring mixture

Merchandise # 8 is vanilla

Merchandise # 9 is probably glycerin, but is no longer used

1According to an article in the Wall Street Journal on Oct. 4, 1996 Frank Robinson, the great-grandson of the co-founder of Coca-Cola, was willing to sell a Coca-Cola formula that was in his grandfathers handwriting. However, Mr. Robinson was going through a divorce at the time, and his wife was claiming that the formula was given to her as a pre-marriage gift. A judge has recently decided the formula belongs to Mr. Robinson, but I have not heard if Mr. Robinson still intends to sell the formula. In any event Coca-Cola claims the formula is a fake. Do to clues released about the ingredients of this formula (if genuine, which is likely) the recipe was produced after Asa revised the Coca-Cola formula, but before the cocaine was removed.