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NEWS: The First Coca-Cola Recipe

Asa Candler, who purchased the Coca-Cola recipe from John Pemberton in 1887 for $2,300, worked on the original recipe to turn it from a medicinal tonic to a soft drink.

Candler was maniacal about protecting his secret recipe. He demanded that no one ever write it down. All labels were removed from ingredient containers. Staff had to identified the ingredients by sight and smell only. All invoices from the ingredients suppliers were shredded, so that employees could not discover what they were and sell the information to rivals.

Over the years, the company has made much of its “secret recipe,” which is so cloak-and-dagger that a major “secret ingredient” is known only as Merchandise 7X. The formula is kept in a bank vault. The company claims that any given time only two people know how to mix the 7X flavoring, and they can never travel on the same plane in case it crashes. It makes for good press.

While it’s easy to determine the general ingredients in a lab analysis, the Merchandise 7X unique flavoring has been elusive.

Now, producers of the Public Radio show “This American Life” claim to have uncovered the identity of Merchandise 7X. It’s a mix of seven ingredients.

A February 18, 1979 article on the history of Coca-Cola, published in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, included a photograph that claimed to be a handwritten copy of the Pemberton Coca-Cola recipe, written in a friend’s leather-bound recipe book of remedies and ointments.

  • Here’s the recipe.
  • The history of Coca-Cola.
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    A portion of an image from an early Coca-
    Cola company check. The original can be
    purchased at Scripophily.net.

     

    Instead of trying to recreate the original, we recommend that you purchase some Boylan’s Cane Cola. It has a wonderful old-fashioned taste that might be quite similar to Candler’s final product. Their sugar-free cola is just as delicious—you won’t know it’s sugar free.

    Like Coca-Cola, Boylan’s is certified kosher. Read our review of Boylan Bottleworks, a NIBBLE Top Pick Of The Week.

  • Find more of our favorite soft drinks and diet soft drinks.
  • See these old-fashioned medicine ads. The products included not just cocaine but heroin!
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