Is Coke secret recipe on eBay?


Coca-cola bottles

The 'secret formula' for Coke has remained a closely guarded secret for more than 125 years. Now an antiques dealer from Georgia claims to have found it in a box of papers he bought from the estate of a local well-known chemist.

But is it the real thing? And how much will it fetch?

The sale

Cliff Kluge has put a document up on eBay, with a buy-it-now price of $15 million, and an auction starting price of $5 million.

Kluge says the paper was part of masses of personal paperwork bought at the estate sale of a renowned Chattanooga chemist, who worked at a prominent local chemical company. He says he believes it is the formula for Coca Cola.

He says: "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."

However, purchasers need to be aware of the major proviso that this comes with. Kluge says: "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 there are only two people in the world that can verify its 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 artefact."

He adds, however, that: "Whoever typed this letter back in 1943, had access to the original recipe, and references that fact on the second page."


The secret recipe is famously well-guarded. Folklore says that only two executives at Coca Cola know the recipe.

Coca Cola was invented by Dr John Stythe Pemberton in 1886, who sold it in a soda fountain in an Atlanta pharmacy. Legend has it that in an effort to keep the recipe secret he never wrote it down, and only passed it on to a handful of people.

He gradually sold bits of the business off, and just before his death sold his remaining interest to Asa Chandler, who became President of the Coca Cola company and bought up the remaining rights.

In 1899 he was approached by two men from Chattanooga and arranged for it to be bottled there. In 1919, when the business needed a bank loan, the owner wrote the recipe down, and it was put in the vault of the bank offering the loan.

Since 1925 (when the loan was repaid) it has been kept in a locked box at Sun Trust Banks - until December 2011 when it was moved to a snazzy new vault at the World of Coca Cola museum.

What's it worth?

If it really is the recipe for Coke, it could well be worth millions.

Kluge defends his pricing, saying: "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 Coca Cola - the most popular drink in the world , with over a billion served daily. A billion plus per day - my goodness."

Unfortunately, there's no way of telling whether this is the original recipe. According to the KSDK news channel, it is similar to one NPR revealed two years ago as the original recipe for Coke, which was published online but never verified.

The question is whether it will sell. At the moment, with less than 12 hours until the end of the sale, there are no bidders.

According to the Daily Mail, Kluge doesn't think he will get millions for the find - but would like to make a few hundred thousand dollars.

But what do you think? Would you be interested? Or is this an exceptional sum of cash to pay for something which cannot be guaranteed.

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