The most iconic American soda company once pulled a stunt that infuriated masses and nearly drove its business to the ground.
Coca-Cola announced it was replacing its original formula with ‘New Coke‘ in April of 1985.
The drink could have saved the company millions by cutting back on some of its costlier ingredients, but it proved to be a complete failure.
The switch from the original formula sparked outrage nationwide with many boycotting the beverage company.
Acclaimed food critic Mimi Sheraton stated on “New Coke:'” “It is sweeter than the original formula and also has a body that could best be
described as lighter. It tastes a little like classic Coca-Cola that has been diluted by melting ice.”
It took the company 79 days to realise what a huge mistake it had made.
Less than three months later on July 11, 1985, Coca-Cola announced its decision to return to the original formula.
The secret formula that moulded the billion dollar company is currently held in a highly secure 10-foot-tall vault at the World of Coca-Cola in downtown Atlanta.
The formula was moved to The World of Coke in 2011 in honour of The Coca-Cola Company’s 125th anniversary.
It was previously held in Trust Company Bank, now SunTrust, in Atlanta for 86 years, according to The Coca-Cola Company.
“The move of the Coca-Cola secret formula is a historic moment for the company,” said Phil Mooney, director of archives of The Coca-Cola Company, when the company announced the move. “The company has always gone to great lengths to protect it, and now by safeguarding it at the World of Coca-Cola, we can share its legendary legacy with people around the world.”
The vault now functions as a very popular interactive tourist exhibit.
Visitors can participate in a number of activities to learn about the history of Coke’s formula and even try a full-body interactive game to learn about where the formula has been kept throughout the years, according to The Coca-Cola Company.
Due to its secrecy, the formula has been the subject of a number of rumours.
According to one claim, the ingredients are known only by two senior executives at the company.
Coca-Cola has never publicly revealed how many people know the recipe, but says the number of people with that knowledge is slim.
“Not a lot of people know. We don’t know how many people know,” said Jacquie Wansley, Coca-Cola marketing manager.
Many people have also speculated that the original Coca-Cola formula contained cocaine.
In an interview with Salon in 2013, Mark Pendergast, author of For God, Country, and Coca-Cola, claimed that Coca-Cola was named for its two principal drug ingredients: Coca Coca leaf and Kola nut.
“Coca Coca leaf from Peru contained cocaine. Kola nut from Ghana contained caffeine,” Pendergast said. “Original Coca-Cola had a very small amount of cocaine in a six-ounce drink, about 4.3 milligrams. The company took out all but a minuscule amount of cocaine in 1903 and the final amount in 1928.”
Coca-Cola says the formula never contained added cocaine, he explains.
“The official company line seems to be that Coca-Cola never contained added cocaine — i.e., they didn’t add white powdered cocaine, which is true,” Pendergast said. “But it did contain fluid extract of coca leaf, which contains cocaine.”
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