How is the Coca-Cola recipe kept secret (if it actually is)?

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Mudassir Ali
Feb 11, 2020 05:21 AM 0 Answers
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Mudassir Ali
- Feb 11, 2020 05:21 AM

Originally Answered: How can Coca Cola legally keep their concentrate recipe a secret?
It’s only sort-of secret.

The real power of the “secret formula” is a branding issue. It’s like McDonald’s secret sauce on their Big Mac. It exists primarily in the realm of advertising.

Any decent group of chemists could figure out the formula for Coca Cola in a pretty short period of time. But that really won’t do them any good. Even if Joe’s Cola perfectly duplicates the Coke recipe, they still don’t have the iconic red can, the Coke name, the history, or the nostalgic attachment that Coca Cola has.

By insisting that the recipe is a trade secret (and doing ridiculous little things like keeping a hand-written copy in a secure vault, where only the CEO has access), Coke creates a mystique around the product that helps promote a certain image in the minds of customers. In reality, every manufacturing center producing Coca Cola has computerized records of the exact formula. They have to have the recipe to actually make it, after all.

Back in the 80s, maybe the early 90s, there was actually a Coke employee who stole the recipe and tried to sell it to Pepsi (apparently believing the “Cola Wars” were more cutthroat than they actually were). He asked for several million dollars for the secret. Pepsi called the cops and the guy was arrested. You know what Pepsi did with the formula? They gave it back. They don’t need to know what Coke’s secret formula is. They already have it. But there’s not really much of a market for something that tastes like Coke but comes in a Pepsi can.

Oh, and the Big Mac’s secret sauce? You can find out what that is on YouTube. Any chef can taste it and tell you exactly what is in it. There’s a burger place near my house that has their own version of a Big Mac, just bigger and more expensive. But knowing the recipe doesn’t give you the happy clown guy and the billions of dollars of marketing power.

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