Coke's secret
July 5, 2006 1:58 PM   Subscribe

Three people have been arrested for stealing secret information about Coke's drink recipe. Apparently the recipe isn't just restricted to two guys who never fly the same plane.
posted by exogenous (54 comments total)

 
Prosecutors say "Dirk" requested $10,000 for the documents.

The same day a bank account was opened under the names of Duhaney and Dimson, and the address used on the account was that of Duhaney's Decatur residence,

Video surveillance showed Williams at her desk at Coke headquarters going through multiple files looking for documents and stuffing them into bags.


Master criminals not.

If this kind of absurd incompetence makes law-enforcement news one wonders how many actual capable criminals there are operating in the corporate world that we don't know about.
posted by scheptech at 2:13 PM on July 5, 2006


It seems that she didn't have any access to the actual coke formula. According to the article, they were trying to sell information about a "new product".
posted by Megafly at 2:17 PM on July 5, 2006


It is in the interest of firms to reveal information about the incompetents who rip them off. The people who really manage to evade their security and profit from it? Much less reason to make it public.
posted by sindark at 2:17 PM on July 5, 2006


New Coke/Coke Classic conspiracy
posted by sonofsamiam at 2:27 PM on July 5, 2006


Let's just get this old horse out of the way: Pepsi... Coke?
posted by loquacious at 2:33 PM on July 5, 2006


i just want to chime in here to say, they BOTH taste like rotting horse ass bored out with a rusty coffee can and left to fester in the new mexico sun.
posted by Tryptophan-5ht at 2:36 PM on July 5, 2006 [1 favorite]


loquacious - you know the answer is Jolt Cola.
posted by dabitch at 2:39 PM on July 5, 2006


i just want to chime in here to say, they BOTH taste like rotting horse ass bored out with a rusty coffee can and left to fester in the new mexico sun.

Dude, you say that like it's a bad thing.
posted by casconed at 2:39 PM on July 5, 2006


loquacious,

Coke... pepsi tastes like cokes sugar rich bastard child.

Although at this point i like diet coke more than coke, no sugar crash.
posted by sourbrew at 2:40 PM on July 5, 2006


Amen Tryptophan-5ht.
posted by tozturk at 2:41 PM on July 5, 2006


The secret ingredient is High fructose Corn Syrup. Yum!
posted by Artw at 2:41 PM on July 5, 2006


It seems that she didn't have any access to the actual coke formula. According to the article, they were trying to sell information about a "new product".

This is worth repeating; the FPP (and perhaps the article itself) is a bit misleading.

As the Snopes article points out, it's not that useful to steal the Coke recipe anyway:

Anyone who could reproduce the drink couldn't market the product as Coca-Cola, and without that brand name the beverage would be close to worthless. As the New Coke fiasco proved, the public's devotion to Coca-Cola has little to do with how it tastes.
posted by danb at 2:44 PM on July 5, 2006


Diet Dr. Pepper Rules!
posted by UseyurBrain at 2:44 PM on July 5, 2006


Lesse: 1 part battery acid, 2 parts caramel coloring, toss in a vivarin, shoot some carbonation in that sucker and put it on the shelf!
posted by telstar at 2:47 PM on July 5, 2006


they BOTH taste like rotting horse ass bored out with a rusty coffee can and left to fester in the new mexico sun.

Now that's creative thinking — Coke (or Pepsi) should use that line in their advertising.
posted by LeLiLo at 2:48 PM on July 5, 2006


Coke sells carbonated corn-syrup-water with a couple other flavorings tossed in. The public buys it -- or, rather, its image and advertising -- for hundreds of times the cost of the ingredients. A lifetime soda habit is a major contributor to adult-onset diabetes.

(pours a glass of water)
posted by gurple at 2:49 PM on July 5, 2006


New Coke/Coke Classic conspiracy
posted by sonofsamiam


If that's true, I tip my hat to Coke's marketing people. Bold and brilliant. I somehow doubt it's true though. They could have changed the formula and invented some reason or gimmick; people weren't so anti-HFSC back then. Aside from that, Coke tastes different in different places (for various reasons) and most people don't notice.
posted by zennie at 2:51 PM on July 5, 2006


coke and pepsi are both evil. some abuse of workers in columbia there, a coup in chile which instituted a brutal dictator, ect. ect. (btw this analysis excludes the health consequences).
posted by j-urb at 2:52 PM on July 5, 2006


Let's just get this old horse out of the way: Pepsi... Coke?
posted by loquacious


Mexican Coke in 6.5 oz bottles. It's made with sugar instead of corn syrup and the local carneceria keeps it at just the right temperature so it ices up when you pop the cap in the hot desert sun here.
posted by buggzzee23 at 2:52 PM on July 5, 2006


Canadian and Mexican Coke rule. New Coke was just Pepsi in a Coke suit.
posted by Megafly at 2:57 PM on July 5, 2006


I cut my coke with Drano®.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 3:05 PM on July 5, 2006


3eb fan, raining florence?
posted by tozturk at 3:08 PM on July 5, 2006


gurple, mmm water, wise choice. Water is good for you. In some places, like India, a lot of water is spent producing coke when water is scarce. Coke didn't deal too well with an Indian photographer who made a photographic statement on that. full disclosure: my site
posted by dabitch at 3:12 PM on July 5, 2006


tozturk: "3eb fan, raining florence?"

Not really. But I did lose a whole year yesterday.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 3:14 PM on July 5, 2006


loquacious - you know the answer is Jolt Cola

Jolt's fine and ok, BUT ULTRACOFFEE MAKES MY EYEBALLS VIBRATE DELICIOUS HARMONICS, MY TEETH SING NORDIC DEATHMETAL AND TURNS MY BONES INTO A CHROMIUM PLATED KILLING MACHINE AND SETS MY CAPSLOCK TO "VAPORIZE".



Let's just get this old horse out of the way: Pepsi... Coke?

You poor, poor bastards. You brain-sick and and soul-twisted marketdroids.That wasn't a multiple choice consumer survey question.

However, given the choice the following is true: Mexican Coke in 6.5 oz bottles.
posted by loquacious at 3:17 PM on July 5, 2006


Oh, let me be the first to worship all of you for having such obviously superior taste in non-proletariat colas.
posted by Paris Hilton at 3:21 PM on July 5, 2006


"Anyone who could reproduce the drink couldn't market the product as Coca-Cola, and without that brand name the beverage would be close to worthless. As the New Coke fiasco proved, the public's devotion to Coca-Cola has little to do with how it tastes."

Doesn't the "New Coke fiasco" prove the exact opposite? If the public's devotion to Coke had nothing to do with it's taste then New Coke would have been accepted without incident, the fact that it wasn't proves that the taste is important, no?
posted by Cosine at 3:31 PM on July 5, 2006


Hmm... all this "Coke tastes the same as anything else" talk is a bit troubling. Quite frankly anyone caught using any other Cola as a drinks mixer should be shot. TBH using the American version of Coke is a bit borderline, but i'll let that slide as many people have no choice but to be slaves to the corn industry.
posted by Artw at 3:31 PM on July 5, 2006


After being on a low carb/sugar diet for a long time, I've noticed that anything with corn syrup tastes pretty nasty. Things made with actual sugar (rare though they may be in the US), still taste good.
posted by doctor_negative at 3:44 PM on July 5, 2006


Hey, dabitch, that's awesome! The billboard, not the lawsuit. One can only hope that the lawsuit will become a mini-McLibel for Coke... do you have any involvement?
posted by gurple at 3:44 PM on July 5, 2006


I never understood the concept of "secret recipes" and "secret ingredients" when the entire content of a product's ingredients is printed on the packaging. Is it that the whole mystery revolves around just how much of each ingredient to add?
posted by jeremy b at 4:06 PM on July 5, 2006


jeremy b writes "I never understood the concept of 'secret recipes' and 'secret ingredients' when the entire content of a product's ingredients is printed on the packaging. Is it that the whole mystery revolves around just how much of each ingredient to add?"

It says "natural flavors" but it doesn't say which natural flavors. Those are the secret ingredients.
posted by mr_roboto at 4:34 PM on July 5, 2006


Actually, I think it has more to do with the processing of said ingredients. I know that Mars Bars isolate different parts of their factory, and when they have people in to repair machines, they only let them see the one broken machine, not its place in the "grand" scheme of things (in the factory).

Also, I'll bet it's illegal to keep ingredients secret from the FDA, even if you file then as "natural." Total assumption on my part, though.
posted by ®@ at 4:45 PM on July 5, 2006


Diet Dr. Pepper Rules!
posted by UseyurBrain


Amen. [Sips Diet Berries and Cream Dr. Pepper]
But man would I like to try a bottle of Mexican Coke, though Kosher Coke is also made with real sugar.
For reference, a previous AskMe post about where to find it.
posted by Dr. Zira at 4:49 PM on July 5, 2006


®@ writes "Also, I'll bet it's illegal to keep ingredients secret from the FDA, even if you file then as 'natural.'"

According to this, the government tried and failed to discover the secret formula (the so-called "merchandise 7X") in a suit it filed back in 1909. Coca-cola is now apparently covered by an FDA "standard of identity": it is a "standard" food product that needs no further description....
posted by mr_roboto at 5:04 PM on July 5, 2006


Doesn't the "New Coke fiasco" prove the exact opposite? If the public's devotion to Coke had nothing to do with it's taste then New Coke would have been accepted without incident, the fact that it wasn't proves that the taste is important, no?

I thought that too, but the point probably is that New Coke (according to surveys) tasted better, yet was still rejected. If a new product that tastes better than Coke failed through not being Coke, what chance would one that tastes no better (ie exactly the same) have?

(NB I'm not sure I agree with this argument)
posted by cillit bang at 5:13 PM on July 5, 2006


That "secret recipe" gimmick has to be one of the cleverest marketing tricks of the past hundred years or more - convincing people that it's all about some kind of superlatively brilliant, unique, unreproduceable flavour, when in reality it is the ubiquitous advertising, mindless brand loyalty, pervasive distribution channels, anticompetitive practices and so on that give Coke its place in the market.
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:20 PM on July 5, 2006


Doesn't the "New Coke fiasco" prove the exact opposite? If the public's devotion to Coke had nothing to do with it's taste then New Coke would have been accepted without incident, the fact that it wasn't proves that the taste is important, no?

Um, they announced & marketed New Coke, making it an issue for people to notice a difference & form an opinion.

If they had changed the recipe on the sly (perhaps gradually) nobody would have noticed or cared. At best, they would have noticed in the "hey, it's weird - Coke tastes different in McDonalds to what it does in cans to what it does in bottles" kind of way.
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:23 PM on July 5, 2006


Wake me when any of the big guys have anything that tastes even remotely as good as Phoenix Organic Cola, or even Phoenix Honey Cola (no HFCS here, just pure natural honey.)

Christ, I sound like an ad.

Trust me, they're good drinks, but you probably can't get them outside of New Zealand. Because sometimes we have to keep the good stuff for ourselves.
posted by The Monkey at 6:11 PM on July 5, 2006


Geez, if you really want the Coke formula that bad, then here it is.
posted by NortonDC at 6:22 PM on July 5, 2006


Wake me when any of the big guys have anything that tastes even remotely as good as Phoenix Organic Cola, or even Phoenix Honey Cola

...or Bondi Cola (with superfluous ginseng!), or Thums Up (Indian, perhaps with Ganges water if you're lucky).
posted by UbuRoivas at 6:51 PM on July 5, 2006


The Monkey:

You hippy. This here is the Real Thing.
posted by Sparx at 8:04 PM on July 5, 2006


®@ writes "Also, I'll bet it's illegal to keep ingredients secret from the FDA, even if you file then as 'natural.'"

According to this, the government tried and failed to discover the secret formula (the so-called "merchandise 7X") in a suit it filed back in 1909. Coca-cola is now apparently covered by an FDA "standard of identity": it is a "standard" food product that needs no further description....
posted by mr_roboto


The FDA also has a rather specific definition for "natural ingredients" (21CFR101.22).:
The term natural flavor or natural flavoring means the essential oil, oleoresin, essence or extractive, protein hydrolysate, distillate,or any product of roasting, heating or enzymolysis, which contains the flavoring constituents derived from a spice, fruit or fruit juice, vegetable or vegetable juice, edible yeast, herb, bark, bud, root, leaf, or similar plant material, meat, seafood, poultry, eggs, dairy products, or fermentation products thereof, whose significant function in food is flavoring rather than nutritional.
Some of the unlisted ingredients might be GRAS additives. It would make sense if "standard of identity" and GRAS are related, but I'm not sure how.
posted by zennie at 8:55 PM on July 5, 2006


You hippy. This here is the Real Thing.

I like V a great deal, but it's not exactly a cola, you know?
posted by The Monkey at 11:34 PM on July 5, 2006


it's not exactly a cola, you know?

It's what cola dreams of being. Like cocaine dreams of being crack and speed of meth.
posted by Sparx at 12:10 AM on July 6, 2006


Coke sells carbonated corn-syrup-water with a couple other flavorings tossed in. The public buys it -- or, rather, its image and advertising [...] #1359515

Or, some people might actually like the taste of cola.

I remember the New Coke, and what a disappointing fiasco that was. It did reinforce their brand ultimately, since people want what they think they can't have.

The big problem with soft drinks today is the lack of creativity among the mainstream manufacturers, and the insistence on insipid sweetness. I was so excited to hear about the colas with half the sugar... only to find out they compensated with sickening aspartame.

Jones soda is like a carbonated Jolly Rancher -- but, ooh, those random photos on the label, what a hoot.

My recent favorites are the Mexican malt soda, and the mild and rindy Leninade, found in smaller markets.
posted by evil holiday magic at 12:34 AM on July 6, 2006


Sadly gurple no chance of it becoming a mini mclibel. The photographer and rep met with Coke behind closed doors, agreed that the photographer not do it again and Coke wouldn't drag him through court forever and ever. My only involvement is that article and I knew the shutterbugs rep.
posted by dabitch at 1:02 AM on July 6, 2006


So they can reverse-engineer absinthe, but they still can't do the same for Coke?
posted by rottytooth at 6:36 AM on July 6, 2006


I want some gurple cola. Great brand name.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 6:43 AM on July 6, 2006


Tryptophan-5ht, you should give more credit to the New Mexico sun.
posted by fingers_of_fire at 7:09 AM on July 6, 2006


Damn you, Slugworth!
posted by Shanachie at 7:49 AM on July 6, 2006


Recently I've discovered that a small amount of milk or cream in Earl Grey tea is quite soothing. At the moment I'm drinking Sprite. Not sure why...
posted by ZachsMind at 8:22 AM on July 6, 2006


when i read the article on cnn last night i was immediately reminded of this scooby doo episode... we know the woman's job was nabbing the secrets so was it the responsibility of one of the other guys to dress up as the gator?
posted by noloveforned at 9:46 AM on July 6, 2006


Anyone remember "Coke II" at all? It was an actual product, but very short lived. It popped up in a few test markets. For the most part, we were like "What the fuck is this crap?"
posted by drstein at 5:35 AM on July 7, 2006


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