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Coke Insists “This American Life” Didn’t Uncover Its Recipe

Coca-Cola says the recipe aired on a recent episode of This American Life isn't quite right, but it's now online for people to test in their own kitchens.


Photo: oleg.skl (flickr)

Producers of This American Life believe they uncovered an original recipe for Coca-Cola, but company executives maintain there's only one "real thing."

Did some intrepid radio reporting uncover Coca-Cola’s secret? The company says no, but now you can test the recipe at home and see for yourself.

Controversial Journalism

The team from the radio program This American Life first uncovered the recipe while reviewing old Atlanta Journal-Constitution columns. That’s right – the recipe has been printed before, in a 1979 “Georgia Rambler” column by Charles Salter.

But Coca-Cola spokespeople maintain there always has been – and always will be – only one true recipe for Coke, and Ira Glass, the show’s host and executive producer, didn’t find it. The real recipe, they said, is locked in a vault and only shown to a few people.

“At the end of the day,” spokeswoman Kerry Tressler told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, “there is only one ‘real thing.’”

An In-Demand Recipe

Glass discussed the recipe on the February 11 episode of This American Life, entitled “Original Recipe.” The episode quickly went viral, crashing their website a few days after posting.

On the episode, he talked to historian Mark Pendergrast, who’d written a book on the history of the beverage and gave support to the theory that the recipe was an early incarnation of Coke, complete with demands for coca extract.

The site is back up now, along with full instructions for making your own Coca-Cola. It claims that all the ingredients can be found online: you’ll need whole-leaf coca tea, food-grade alcohol, and several different flavoring oils. It also contains five times the caffeine found in a modern-day soda, so don’t plan on sleeping any time soon after you take your first sips.

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Carrie Schedler

Carrie Schedler is a senior at Indiana University studying journalism, English and French. She's originally from Columbus, Ohio, and still dreams often about salty caramel ice cream from Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams and baguettes from her semester abroad in Paris. Hopefully, she'll learn how to cook eventually.

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