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Coca-Cola trade secret no longer secret?

By Wendy Marsh

The U.S. radio show "This American Life" has published a photograph from a 32-year old newspaper which it has claimed to be the original recipe for Coca-Cola.  The photograph, originally published in 1979 in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, is a hand written recipe that reportedly contains the exact amounts of all of the Coca-Cola ingredients, including the specific oils contained in Merchandise 7X.  Merchandise 7X makes up only about 1 percent of the Coca-Cola formulation but is allegedly responsible for providing Coca-Cola with its unique flavor. 

 In the intellectual property world, the Coca-Cola formulation is famously known as one of the oldest, most valuable, and best kept trade secrets.  Coca-Cola and its trade secret formulation are approaching their 125th anniversary this year.  Coca-Cola has so far declined to comment as to the genuineness of the published recipe, but its spokesperson has stated that the main ingredients of the formulation, which include caffeine, sugar, water, lime juice, vanilla, and caramel, and listed on the Coca-Cola product label, have never been a secret.

 Only time, and the results of others who will undoubtedly attempt to manufacture their own Coca-Cola, will tell whether this published recipe is "the real thing."

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