What is the Secret Mysterious Ingredient in Coca-Cola?

When you buy a can or bottle of Coca-Cold and look at the ingredients, you pretty much know what goes into making the world’s most popular soft drink, right? If that is the case, why has it been said that somewhere in the corporate bowels of the Coca-Cola headquarters in Atlanta exists a safe that contains a simple piece of paper on which is written the secret ingredients of Coke? Because ingredients are one thing, but how much of each ingredient is another. And yet, how could there possibly be any secret to what goes inside each bottle or can of Coca-Cola’s famous soft drink if there are bottling plants all around the world?

The secret of Coca-Cola suggest that each of these distributors and bottlers are also kept in the dark about what can be found in the soft drink. The way Coke bottling and distribution works is that the soft drink bottlers are supplied with only the syrups and other ingredients that are then mixed with carbonated water to produce the soft drink imbibed around the world. But what is contained in Coca-Cola’s syrup? Competitors have spent spies to Atlanta to figure out that secret and reporters have done their level best, but in order to authorize the opening of that secret vault in Atlanta there must be a top level executive present who holds the code. Sure, it’s all incredibly ridiculous, like something out of Get Smart, but they it’s all true.

The closest the average Coca-Cola drinker has ever come to figuring out what is contained on that slip of paper buried in the secret vault at Coke’s headquarters in Atlanta came courtesy of one Mr. William Poundstone. In 1983 Poundstone published a book called Big Secrets and one of those secrets was said to be the secret ingredient combination that goes into making a Coca-Cola’s soft drink. What did Poundstone come up with as the Big Secret of Coke?

Sugar. Caramel. Caffeine. Phosphoric acid. Cola-leaf extract. Citric acid. Glycerin. Vanilla. And essential oils, including lemon, orange, lime, cinnamon, and nutmeg.

Pretty much nothing that could not be found on the ingredient label of a Coke bottle was discovered by Poundstone. The location of the secret ingredients’ major secret lies in those essential oils. Any kid with a good chemistry set could break down those essential oils, but it is the way that they interact with each other chemically that hides the secret behind why Coca-Cola tastes different from Pepsi, RC-Cola or Sam’s Choice. Thus far no outside analysis yet been able to break down the exact chemical makeup behind those essential oils. And so the mystery continues.