Time, May 14:
A Georgia antiques collector is the latest person to claim that he might have found the original recipe for Coca-Cola.
Cliff Kluge and his wife Arlene recently bought a box of letters at an estate sale, and one of the yellowed papers, dated 1943, includes instructions for making cola, according to Atlantaâ€™s WXIA. Kluge thinks it could potentially be the recipe for Coca-Cola and is trying to sell it on eBay; bidding starts at $5 million, but customers can buy it now for $15 million.
Somebody clearly believed that it was real, as it Sold via “Buy It Now” on May 15th:
On May 8th, 1886, Dr. John Stythe Pemberton, a pharmacist and inventor of medicinal beverages, invented the world’s most famous drink – Coca Cola. Shortly after, he began selling the fountain drink in a nearby Atlanta pharmacy. Concocted in a brass kettle in his back yard, this patent medicine was billed as being able to cure anything from morphine addiction to headaches to impotence.The ingredients, their ratio and the process method of the beverage is one ofthe most closely guarded secrets in the world. To this day, it is said that only two of Coca Cola’s executives know the entire ingredients.
In 1899, Benjamin F. Thomas and Joseph B. Whitehead of Chattanooga, met with Asa Chandler, then President and owner of the Coca Cola Company. They approached him with the idea of bottling the beverage. Until then, Coca Cola was only available as a fountain drink. After much negotiations, Mr. Chandler agreed to grant bottling rights to the two gentleman, for the astronomical fee of $1.00.(He never collected the $1.00, by the way) Thus born was the world’s first Coca Cola Bottling Company, located in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
Fast forward 100+ years later to the 21st Century – we were at an estate sale of a deceased, renown Chattanooga chemist, who at one time worked at one of the more prominent chemical companies in the area. There were masses upon masses of personal paperwork at the sale. Curious, we bought several boxes of this paperwork, which yielded some interesting finds. Among those finds is what is offered for sale here – what we believe to be the formula for Coca Cola.
Typed on January 15th, 1943, this single page (front and back) breaks down the formula into exact amounts of specific ingredients to make one gallon of concentrate, which, when combined and processed yields enough to make 16 gallons..
May we make this perfectly clear – we can never guarantee and never claim that this is the actual recipe for Coca Cola. Even if this formula was 100% accurate in every aspect– as mentioned above– there are only two people in the world that can verify it’s accuracy, and I doubt they will be willing to compromise Coca Cola to acknowledge our exactness. That is why we are selling this as a historic artifact.
What I can guarantee is that offered for sale is a single page, hand typed and written, 70+ year old recipe on yellowed paper that was purchased out of an estate of a local chemist in a city that claims the right of being where Coca Cola Bottling originated. Whoever typed this letter back in 1943, had access to the original recipe, and references that fact on the second page – “On page 83 of the Extractor is the original Coca Cola formula(e) which might serve as a source of preparation information.”
Though you’re looking at the “Swiss Cheese” version of that formula, with the ingredients edited out, you will be purchasing the entire recipe to include ingredients, ratios and preparation details. The formula is an interesting read in itself – including the Maywood Chemical Company, now the Stepan Chemical Company, which has the solitary right of decocanizing the coca leaves for Coca Cola. Indeed, until 1903, Coca Cola had an average of 9 milligrams of cocaine in each serving. No wonder it got rid of headaches.
It is to our belief that the interest in this will be so great, that the questions through eBay will be monumental– so we ask “serious inquires only”. I will never reveal any portion of the formula in any shape or form, so don’t waste the energy asking. You may find the “Buy It Now” price exceptionally steep, but it will be a drop in the bucket if this formula rises to the occasion and yields an accurate formula for CocaCola – the most popular drink in the world , with over a billion served daily. A billion plus per day – my goodness.
Update: It’s interesting to see how this is unfolding. According to some news sources, it appears that during World War II (this letter is dated January 15, 1943) Coca Cola was concerned that they were not going to be able to obtain all the ingredients they needed to make the formula – either by war time shortages, or the countries where the ingredients came from were deep in battle and couldn’t meet supply demands. This is pure speculation – the estate we bought this from — this person was a renown chemist — is it possible that this informal letter was written to that chemist to find other avenues to reach the same tasting Coca Cola recipe? Personally, I don’t believe it was written to compromise Coca Cola or the formula. There is no doubt (at least in my mind) that whoever typed the letter had seen the original recipe for Coca Cola, and they reference that on the second page – “On page 83 of the Extractor….” Is it the original recipe? I don’t know, but more evidence and external factors are falling in place to bolster the fact that this could be the original, with an emphasis on the word “could”. Looking at the recipe, it certainly is a lot more complicated than I could have ever imagined.