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Fact Check: Was There Cocaine in Coca Cola?

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The short answer is yes. Coca-Cola did once contain cocaine.
This leads us to further questions:

  • Nowadays does Coca-Cola contain cocaine?
  • When did Coca-Cola stop using cocaine?
  • Why was cocaine removed from Coca-Cola?

Read on to gain clarity on the background of cocaine in Coca-Cola.

Was There Cocaine in Coca-Cola?

Coca-cola is one of the world's most popular beverages, best known for its unique flavor. The company first started manufacturing in 1886, and the drink's wild popularity has turned it into an icon across the planet. Coca-cola may have an excellent reputation today, but what dark secret does its past hide?

Some claim that Coca-cola’s original recipe included cocaine. In fact, Elon Musk recently joked on Twitter about buying Coca-Cola to put the cocaine back in. Is this claim valid? Is it possible that cocaine was once a vital ingredient in a drink we all enjoy.

The National Institute of Drug Abuse says that the earliest runs of Coca-Cola did include cocaine. Coke was originally sold as a patent medicine, and cocaine was a common medicinal ingredient used widely by physicians at the time.

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Where Does the Name Coca-Cola Come From?

However, the name "Coca-Cola" does not come from cocaine. The moniker stems from the coca plant, an essential ingredient used in the beverage.


By Unknown author - http://www.cocaine.org/coca-cola/index.html,
Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=4664485

An Atlanta, Georgia pharmacist named John Pemberton was the original inventor of the Coca-Cola recipe in 1885, first preparing it in his backyard. The drink contained extracts of the coca leaf, hence the first part of the drink’s name. The world "cola" comes from the Kola nut, which contains caffeine, another mental stimulant.

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Medicinal Coca-Cola

At the time of Coke's invention, Cocaine was completely legal and easily usable in small amounts, allowing Pemberton to market the product as an ideal solution for headaches, fatigue, nausea, etc. Such patent medicines allowed people to "cure" many common ailments and contained many substances today considered addictive.

Coca-Cola also contained toxic elements like mercury and lead. Medicines were largely unregulated in the 1900s, allowing anyone to claim that their concoction boasted a host of health benefits - with zero proof or oversight.

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When Did They Stop Putting Cocaine in Coca-Cola?

Coca-Cola stopped using cocaine in 1903. Earlier batches of Coca-Cola contained small amounts of cocaine (3.5 gm), but from 1903 cocaine was mostly removed, and by 1929 the drink was totally cocaine-free. The drink no longer has cocaine, but the brand faced some severe public backlash when these facts resurfaced.

Mixing cocaine and alcohol creates cocaethylene, which acts like cocaine and causes a heightened state of euphoria. However, Pemberton replaced the alcohol from the recipe with sugar syrup as a result of a local prohibition law, creating the iconic drink.

Coke was originally available only to an elite societal group. Its popularity grew when it began being sold in glass bottles, and it quickly took off as a popular consumer medicinal cure-all.

Many news sources reported an increase in cases of molestation, burglary, and other crimes at that time, which some attributed to Cola-Cola’s rise in popularity.

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Removing Coke from Coca Cola

Asa Chandler, another Atlanta pharmacist, purchased Coca-Cola and its rights from Pemberton and created the official Coca-Cola Company. Chandler started branding Coca-Cola as a non-medicinal beverage that could be served at every table in America.

However, the drink still contained a minimal amount of cocaine. In 1929, public pressure grew to remove cocaine from coke, prompting the company to remove all of the addictive substance from the formula. Coca Cola was now safe to drink.

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Did Coca Cola Have Cocaine in it? Coca Cola’s Stance

Coca-Cola denies any claims and says that Coca Cola never had cocaine as an added ingredient. However, most independent sources believe that  there were at least trace amounts of cocain in Coca Cola at one time.

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When Was There Cocaine in Coca Cola?

Coca Cola will forever be in hot water for adding cocaine to its original recipe; the claim resurfaces on the internet and social media platforms regularly. Many critics also claim that cocaine use is why Coca-Cola keeps its full recipe a closely guarded secret, but no one knows the truth.

To answer whether there was cocaine in coca cola: Yes, it seems Coca Cola did contain cocaine during its original manufacturing runs, but the brand claims they have long since changed the recipe.

It seems probable that they stopped putting cocaine in coke since at least 1930.

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Coca Cola's Secret Ingredient

Coca Cola has always had a unique recipe, but what’s more interesting is its secret, heavily-guarded ingredient called “7X flavor”. No one knows what the ingredient is, but many believe there could be cocaine in the formula.

Mark Pendergrast, the author of the book “God, Country and Coca Cola” (an unauthorized company history), claims that only two people know how to mix the 7X formula correctly, and neither of them can travel on the same plane in case it crashes.

He further states that the recipe is secured in a vault and carefully passed down as a ritual from generation to generation.

Coca Cola is the most popular beverage in the world, renown for its unparalleled quality and taste. There is no definite answer as to whether Coke has cocaine, but perhaps one day we will find out the truth. One thing we know, we all love Coca-Cola, and we can raise a glass to that.

Are you or a loved one suffering from a cocaine addiction? It’s time to break the cycle. Reach out to our admissions team today. We are standing by to guide you home.

To learn how cocaine is made for medicinal and recreational use, read our online resource.

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