The Coca-Cola Code: Teen 'Buys' Recipe for $15 Million on eBay

Coca-cola recipe
One of the greatest trade secrets in corporate American history, guarded jealousy for more than a century, was allegedly put up for sale on eBay (EBAY) by an antiques hunter in Georgia: the recipe for the Coca-Cola (KO) Co.'s signature soda.

And the man who found what he believes to be the formula thought for an instant he'd sold it for $15 million.

It turns out, in an unfortunate bit of publicity for eBay, the "buyer" was a 15 year-old with nowhere near that kind of cash.

Cliff Kluge of Ringgold told Atlanta's WXIA he came upon the recipe in "a box of letters and papers at an estate sale." The document was dated 1943. "You don't stumble on things like this very often," Kluge said. "It's a letter, and a formula, and the processes to make it."

Hoping to monetize his find, Kluge put the recipe up for auction online, with a "Buy It Now" price of $15 million.

That option was apparently irresistible to some teenage eBay user, who pledged money he or she (probably he, though) doesn't have.

"It would have been a wonderful thing," Kluge told AFP, "but some 15-year-old kid bid on it -- and it's not a legitimate bid."

EBay rules give the winning bidder a three-day period to make payment. So in the likely event that Kluge's 15-year-old tormenter can't put up the money, the treasure hunter plans to put the recipe back up for sale.

He acknowledges, however, that he can't prove that he has the original formula. "No one can because only two people (both executives of Coca-Cola) in the world know it."

"We sleep well at night knowing the secret formula is safe and secure with us," a Coke spokesman told RT.

The company's archivist sounded a similar note. "This happens every few years, and the desire to possess the secret formula speaks to the power of the brand," Ted Ryan said to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "But there is only one copy of the formula, and we've got it locked in our vault (at the World of Coke museum in downtown Atlanta)."

While that account seems unlikely -- how can there be no other extant copies in the world? -- the paper notes that only Coke can authentic purported recipes, and the company is not likely to admit that its secret is out, if that ever transpires.

NEXT: Shhh: 10 Make-or-Break Trade Secrets

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Faceci Nigdy Nie Dor this is orginal cola recipe

March 09 2014 at 6:13 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

If it itruly the recipie then "COKE" would buy it.

May 17 2013 at 3:31 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Bob A

Really, only 15 mil? What about 200k for a Twinkie, or several thousand for a picture of Elvis taking his last dump on a loaf of Italian bread? (I made up the last one)

May 17 2013 at 1:02 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

I can assure you this is not a copy of the recipe. Had it been a deal would have been made between the seller and Coke. Back in the late 70s I knew a man that opened a safe (he was a locksmith in the Atlanta,Ga area) that bought a safe at an estate auction. The safe was to have come from a high ranking official at Coca-Cola. Inside the safe appeared to be a copy of the formula for coke. Coca Cola was notified, there was a meeting and the gentleman closed his shop and never had to work again.

May 17 2013 at 12:42 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
fred mosrie

this ant the real thing formula.. the seller is after quick cash. the real one is in a valt at the coca cola company.

May 17 2013 at 12:20 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply


May 17 2013 at 12:19 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I think coke now is not the same as pre-1985. Doesnt taste near as good. A simple test to prove coke did not change back to original formula is New Coke doesnt frost ice cubes. Back in the day when you poored coke over ice, a thin brown frost would cover the ice. Maybe real sugar?

May 16 2013 at 11:27 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I hate ebay people like this kid...he should be put in jail for 30 days for a fraudulent bid jackass.

May 16 2013 at 8:15 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Mark's comment

I disagree Mark: This kid put that scammer in his place. He's selling what he thinks might be the original formula, but there's no way to prove it. It's worthless. There goes his delusion of riches...

May 16 2013 at 9:35 PM Report abuse -3 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to ohger1s's comment

You obviously don't sell on Ebay. This kind of thing goes on all the time and it's a real PitA to put up with it. Though it'll never happen, Mark's got the right idea.

May 17 2013 at 12:56 AM Report abuse rate up rate down


May 16 2013 at 7:02 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

"While that account seems unlikely -- how can there be no other extant copies in the world?"

What is being sold here by Luge is "Merchandise 7X," which is a formula that does contain many components of modern Coca-Cola (Classic), but not nearly all. No one should pay through the nose for this as if it's a secret; the document has historical value, but it's a curiosity and piece of soda history, and nothing more.

And while the news item above may claim it's unlikely that there are no other extant copies in the world, their competitors have been willing to pay top dollar for such a thing for decades, and have come up with NOTHING. So it seems to be true.

May 16 2013 at 6:37 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply