The Coca-Cola Vault and The Secret Formula

Vault containing the secret formula at the World of Coca-Cola in Atlanta
The Vault containing the secret formula in Atlanta


When you have something special and unique, you want to keep it hidden, and that is precisely what Coca-Cola has done from its inception. For over 125 years, Coca-Cola has managed to keep its recipe secret.

Many other rivals attempted to hack the Coca-Cola formula, but their efforts were futile. As per myth, only two people have ever seen the secret recipe. But, regardless of how many individuals have seen the recipe, one thing is certain: the corporation has gone above and beyond to keep the secret safe from public scrutiny. The corporation has its high-tech vault where the formula is kept. So, where does this priceless vault exist?

The Secret Formula is in a Vault at an Atlanta Museum

As the story goes, the famous flavourings for the sparkling beverage, Merchandise 7X, had not changed since it was formulated in 1886, and Coca-Cola’s formula was only entrusted today to two Coke executives, neither of whom could fly the same plane lest the secret would be lost along with them.

The Coca-Cola Company’s secret recipe has been kept in a vault for the majority of the last 86 years. Fans may now go closer than ever before by visiting a permanent display at the World of Coca-Cola in Atlanta. A significant moment in The Coca-Cola Company’s history prompted the decision to transfer the formula.

On May 24, 2007, the World of Coca-Cola museum opened to the public. There are several World of Coca-Cola outlets across the world, but only one in Atlanta is a museum displaying the company’s entire history.

By sharing this secret recipe experience with our consumers, we honour both the rich history of the brand’s beginnings and future generations’ moments of refreshment and enjoyment

Muhtar Kent, chairman, and CEO of The Coca-Cola Company
Classic Original advert 1947.
Classic Original advert 1947.

The museum has a high-tech vault with the original formula. Across Baker Street from the museum lies a 20-acre compound. Pemberton Place is the company’s headquarters.

The museum allows visitors to sample 60 distinct tastes from across the world, such as Fanta Melon Frosty and Brazil’s Guaraná Kuat. The museum not only houses the secret recipe but also includes a fully operating bottling process that produces 8-ounce bottles that visitors may retain as gifts.

In the tasting area on the second level, visitors may also take selfies with the brand’s polar bear symbol and try numerous

History of Coca-Cola’s Secret Formula

Asa Candler, an early Company chairman who bought the formula in 1887, was concerned competitors would get hold of John Pemberton’s original recipe, so he insisted no one should write it down ever again.

In 1911, Ira Glass announced on his public radio international program This American Life that the staff of the program had found a recipe in the book Everett Bales Recipes, which was reproduced on February 28, 1979, edition of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, which they believed to be Pemberton’s original Coca-Cola formula, or a version that he had made, before or after the product was first sold in 1886.

Detail from the February 18, 1979 edition of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution - The Coca-cola formula
Detail from the February 18, 1979 edition of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution – The Coca-Cola Formula

In February 2011, This American Life published a story claiming that it had discovered Coca-Cola’s original recipe after re-discovering a newspaper column published in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, dated February 18, 1979, which showed a handwritten copy of John Pemberton’s recipe.

The formula, which moved from Pemberton through Candler to Ernest Woodruff and a group of investors, wasn’t written down until 1919 when it was used as security for the loan that Woodruff and his partners received to buy the firm. The formula was kept in a vault at the Guaranty Bank in New York until the debt was paid off in 1925 when it was transferred to the Trust Company Bank (now SunTrust).

The present vault is the focal point of a museum display. To be clear, visitors are permitted to see the vault, but you won’t be able to see the formula unless you purchase the company.

While a handful of recipes, each claiming to be the true formula, have been published, Coke company’s insists the real recipe remains secret, known only by a select (and anonymous) few employees.

It is stated that a group of top-level corporate leaders knows the secret and avoids travelling together since, in the event of an accident, the recipe will be lost forever.

While the truth about those two men is unknown, what is an undeniable fact is that Coke does not hold the patent to the highly protected Coke Secret Formula, to keep their secret formula undisclosed.

But after all, it might all just be an elaborate hoax for what the formula represents: a secret, something special. Which is the same reason even to this day Coca-Cola plays up the existence of the highly secured recipe in written form and at various times has been happy to stoke the flames of the only two people who know the myth.

Pemberton’s Recipe

Coca-Cola inventor John Pemberton is said to have written this recipe in his diary shortly before his death in 1888.

The recipe does not state how to mix the components when to do so, or how much flavouring oil to use (though it implies that the “Merchandise 7X” was mixed first). This was normal practice at the time because it was expected that cooks were familiar with the procedure.

The Ingredients are as follows:

  • 1 oz (28 g) caffeine citrate
  • 3 oz (85 g) citric acid
  • 1 US fl oz (30 ml) vanilla extract
  • 1 US qt (946 ml) lime juice
  • 2.5 oz (71 g) “flavoring” (i.e., “Merchandise 7X”)
  • 30 lb (14 kg) sugar
  • 4 US fl oz (118.3 ml) fluid extract of coca leaves (flavour essence of the coca leaf)
  • 2.5 US gal (9.5 l; 2.1 imp gal) water
  • caramel sufficient to give colour
  • “Mix caffeine acid and lime juice in 1 quart boiling water and add vanilla and flavouring when cool.”

Flavouring (Merchandise 7X):

Some Other Facts About Coca Cola

Coca-Cola is offered in over 200 countries worldwide. Coca-Cola owns and produces hundreds of subsidiary beverages that you may not be aware of – There have been three CEO changes since 2000. Despite these developments, Coke remains the No. 1 carbonated drink in the United States, with 42.8 % of the market compared to Pepsi’s 31.1 %

Every day, around 1.7 billion servings of Coke products are consumed – Coca-Cola is the world’s second most well-understood phrase after OK.

There are several drinks to choose from. It would take you 9 years to taste all of the beverages produced by Coca-Cola.

Coca-Cola will not reveal where the concentrate is manufactured, nor will it allow modern-day filming of its manufacturing procedures. The recipe for Coca-Cola may be the most tightly guarded secret in the history of American trade.

The components are specified, but one is purposefully vague: natural flavours are things that have come from nature from many various sources of plants, vegetables, or things like that. This is truly the world’s most tightly kept-trade secret.

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Secret Formula of Coca-Cola | National Geographic