Coca-Cola was invented by a pharmacist named John S. Pemberton in 1886, but the recipe was only shared amongst a few of his pharmacist colleagues and was not written down until 1919, when Ernest Woodruff purchased the company from Asa Candler, who himself had bought the business in 1891. Now, the Coke code is ensconced at the World of Coca-Cola in Atlanta, Georgia.
It’s all very confusing, which is exactly the point: we’re not supposed to know Coca-Cola’s “secret formula” — that’s part of the soda’s so-called mystique, and the fact that the word “mystique” can be used about caffeinated sugar-water is exactly what Coke’s going for. But Cliff Kluge of Ringgold, Georgia, a self-proclaimed “treasure hunter,” claims he found the original recipe inside a box of papers he bought at an estate sale.
Kluge and his wife, Arlene, recently purchased a box of letters and papers at an estate sale. One of those papers is a cola recipe from 1943. Kluge believes it is the recipe for Coca-Cola.
“You don’t stumble on things like this very often,” he said. “It’s a letter, and a formula, and the processes to make it. I think it’s a little deeper than having fun; I think it’s the recipe for Coca-Cola.”
Kluge’s recipe matches closely with another recipe. Two years ago, NPR claimed to have found the original recipe for Coke and published it online. Their web site crashed from all the traffic.
So what have officials at Coca-Cola said? “They told me they’d call me back in 7-10 business days,” Kluge said last week. “Well, they haven’t contacted me back.” (Via)
Kluge has put the recipe on eBay, with a starting bid of $5 million or you can buy it right now, without competition, for $15 million. FYI: the item is listed as “Used.” Meanwhile, cans of New Coke are going for $0.01. Or you can just get the recipe from This American Life. Choose wisely.