Did Coca-Cola Used to Have Cocaine in it? Did Coke Have coke in it?
Coca-Cola (Coke) had cocaine in it, in varying amounts, from 1886 – 1929. At the time cocaine was legal and treated as a medicine. Coca-Cola didn’t invent using the coca plant in drinkable products (coca wine was also popular), it’s just the one product with its history and name firmly rooted in it. In short, Coke used to have coke in it.
From 1900 – 1929 opinion turned against cocaine, but Coke continued to use trace amounts of cocaine and “spent” coca leaves to maintain its flavor and trademark. Today Coca-Cola uses caffeine rather than cocaine.
A video about how cocaine was once an important part of Coca-Cola, and much else in America at the time.
FACT: Despite its abuse potential and dangers, cocaine is still considered to have medicinal purposes today (i.e. it’s a schedule II, not I, drug).
Where does the name Coca-Cola Come From? Coca-Cola refers to two original ingredients found in Coke 1. kola nuts (a source of caffeine), and 2. coca leaves.
Does Coke Still Have Cocaine in it? The current formula of Coca-Cola remains a trade secret, but we can confirm that a 1988 New York Times article reported the following: In a telephone interview from Coca-Cola’s Atlanta headquarters, Randy Donaldson, a company spokesman, said, “Ingredients from the coca leaf are used, but there is no cocaine in it and it is all tightly overseen by regulatory authorities.” Besides producing the coca flavoring agent for Coca-Cola, Stepan extracts cocaine from the coca leaves, which it sells to Mallinckrodt Inc., a St. Louis pharmaceutical manufacturer that is the only company in the United States licensed to purify the product for medicinal use. Thus, we can confirm cocaine can be used for medicine and the Coca plant has a long history with Coca Cola. With that in mind, Coke is a brand, and we don’t want to confirm or deny if they currently use “spent” Coca Leaves without an official source to cite.
The Origin of Coca-Cola
Coca-Cola was actually invented by Civil War pharmacist John “Doc” Pemberton. Doc was looking to find opportunity after the war, and he found it in soda and the coca leaf.
Soda fountain gatherings were on the rise as new social spots as Temperance (a religious movement against alcohol) was keeping folks out of the bars. Out of the new soda trend, Doc’s knowledge of medicine, and that addicting and social affects of stimulants, Coca-Cola was born.
New Ownership and the Marketing of Coke
Sadly, Doc died in 1888 only two years after Coke was created. A man named Asa Griggs Candler rescued the then fledgling business. Candler was responsible for many of the marketing techniques that made Coke famous, including passing out Coke to people and giving them “their first taste for free”. He also sold the Coca-Cola syrup as a medicine claiming it would get rid of fatigue and headaches.
Putting things in perspective: In the late 1800’s drugs were legal and opiates and cocaine were commonly used as medicine. It was = common to give children cocaine when they were sick. Like how we think little of the caffeine in our soda today, people in the 1800’s didn’t think much about cocaine in their soda.
Remember, Coke called the product Coca-Cola, they were trying to advertise it, not hide it!
Drug Laws, Taxation, Drug Culture, and Patents
The 1890’s were good for Coca Cola, but by 1898 a tax to help recoup costs of the Spanish-American war meant that medicine was being taxed. Coca Cola got out of the medicine business, but retained cocaine in their product.
As drug culture changed America started to realize the negative effects of drugs. Throughout the next 30 years new drug laws cracked down on cocaine including the 1875 law in San Francisco which outlawed opium dens, the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906 which gave the FDA power to regulate drugs, and the Harrison Narcotics Tax Act of 1914 which allowed the taxation of drugs (and indirectly made them illegal for non-medical use via a “tax violation”).
Coca-Cola retained trace amounts of the drug in their product up until 1929. This was primarily due to patent reasons (they had to keep coke as an ingredient in order to keep the patent).
Cocaine and Opiates are Still Used as Medicine, and Stimulants are Still Used in Soda
The story of cocaine in soft drinks may sound almost comical today, but consider the fact that we still use cocaine as a medicine today (it’s only illegal on the street).
Cocaine is a schedule II drug (meaning despite abuse potential we admit it has medicinal uses). Most opiates are also schedule II, meanwhile other non-opioid drugs like Xanax and Ambien are schedule III.
- Today Adderall, Morphine, Oxycontin, and many other drugs we use as medicines are plant-based, stimulants, and/or have addictive properties.
- Today Coke has replaced Cocaine with Caffeine, but notably Caffeine is also a stimulant.
We drink double shots of expresso with our morning cigarette, and end the day with a drink. We aren’t giving cocaine to children, but they may receive Adderall prescriptions and caffeine. How does a society balance drugs, addiction, marketing, freedom, taxes, and regulation? That is perhaps the deeper question under the surface of a rather fun story.
Truth About Coke, Coffee & Caffeine Facts, Corrina Rachel, Weight Gain.
Have a drug problem (including caffeine)? Get help at drugabuse.gov.
My brother loves this drink!!! He can’t stop drinking it! If it did have cocaine in it it would be banned in every country. And plus I have a big bottle of diet coke lime
This author did some research on Coca Cola and a small amount of research on cocaine. His knowledge of other recreational drugs is non-existent in this article. Most of this information can be found on Wkipedia.
“Today Adderall, Adrenaline, Morphine, Oxycotin, and many other drugs we use as medicines are plant-based and have addictive properties.”
It’s not Oxycotin it is Oxycontin with an extra “n.” It is a trade name for a continuous release formulation of oxycodone, the geneneric formulation. Oxy-“contin-uous”
And why he would list Adrenaline as a drug similar to popular stimulants and opiates derived from plants is beyond me. Adtenaline is the only non recreational drug mentioned in this article.
Good catch on the misspelling. I have no clue what I was thinking listing Adrenaline… also a good catch.
The point I was trying to make is that, while we might find it strange to use cocaine as a medicine in the past, we should keep in mind we use things like Oxycontin and Morphine as treatments to this day. Furthermore, addictive stimulants like caffeine and nicotine are legal, popular, and common.
yes still today it contains traces of cocaine
coki can prove it
It is my understanding that they still use a “non-narcotic extract from the coca plant”. http://www.nytimes.com/1988/07/01/business/how-coca-cola-obtains-its-coca.html
Would be crazy to find out that an article like the following is more accurate than the NYTime article above: http://www.naturalnews.com/032658_Coca-Cola_cocaine.html
… for now I think we have to give them the benefit of the doubt that the drink is caffeinated, but not coca-nated. Still, the origin and background story is pretty interesting!
Coca Cola is made with use of cocoa plant BUT the traces of cocaine are now taken out ..ALL OF IT!! You seem very ignorant and show typical laziness, as you obviously cannot be even bothered to actually read the whole above section about the drink…YES AT ONE TIME cocaine was part of the ingredients, but NOW it is removed and then sent to a pharmaceutical company in the US which is the only one allowed to make use of cocaine for MEDICINAL purposes only!! can you not read? or does the fact of looking at how long the statement written is?? so you skip past that and end up looking like an idiot .. god people like you? prefer the world of an issue is either Black or White.. with the grey area ignored.. Imbecile
Then prove it..
They still use the cocoa plant which is used to make cocaine so basically there is still Trace amounts of cocaine in Coca-Cola
In the past they used “spent” coca leaves, I know that much. Didn’t see any evidence that they still use active coca leaves in my research. Feel free to offer citations one way or the other.
Saying “They still use the Coca leaves in it so yes it still has traces of cocaine in it” is like saying that gasoline still has donosaur DNA in it. It is a dumb assumption…
Yeah, it is a strange one. We can confirm they were using spent leaves in 1988, and it seems to be confirmable in 2011. It stands to reason that they still do this today (I haven’t been able to confirm that for sure).
The question is, “Does using spent leaves matter?” You seem to to think no, and we appreciate the insight.
Check out: http://www.nytimes.com/1988/07/01/business/how-coca-cola-obtains-its-coca.html
QUOTE from 1988: In a telephone interview from Coca-Cola’s Atlanta headquarters, Randy Donaldson, a company spokesman, said, “Ingredients from the coca leaf are used, but there is no cocaine in it and it is all tightly overseen by regulatory authorities.” Besides producing the coca flavoring agent for Coca-Cola, Stepan extracts cocaine from the coca leaves, which it sells to Mallinckrodt Inc., a St. Louis pharmaceutical manufacturer that is the only company in the United States licensed to purify the product for medicinal use.
In college and grad school,I lived on Coca Cola ! It was my go to pick me up for studying! Its an occasional pick up me now! Have to watch the sugar intake now ! DrG
coca-cola did have cocaine in it but it had to be taken out, that was how it got its name.
Indeed it did. True story.
I love to drink coke and like to sniff coke
My grand dad used to work for cocoa cola when it was horse and buggy, I have an article with him it in. I grew up drinking coke and will not drink anything else
Xanax and ambien aren’t opiates.
Indeed they are not, I was simply offering examples of drugs that we take as medicines despite being on the drug schedule in an effort to show that cocaine being used as a medicine isn’t really as strange as one might think given how we use other drugs as medicines.
But I switch the wording to make that more clear.
it is true I am heath teacher and I know
>Coke was originally marketed as a medicine, before a tax and a court battle in 1989 in which it was rebranded as a soft drink
Mustn’t that be 1889 ?
Great catch. It was absolutely 1889 when this rebranding to avoid taxation occurred. That was a mistype.
There is absolutely no link or any source in this article that proves that Coke had cocaine in it in the beginning.
I added some additional citations to help make it clearer. Unfortunately we don’t find the Coca Cola company touting their roots on their site, so instead we had to fall back to articles on the Harrison Narcotics Tax Act, .edu links, secondary sources, the name of the product (a drink with coca and kola in it), and our knowledge that cocaine was marketed as a medicine in those days.
From all that, the story should be pretty clear. Coke used to have coca in it and be marketed as a medicine, and that had to change has the times and laws changed.
Also, this Times Article really does go a long way to confirming the legend: https://www.nytimes.com/1988/07/01/business/how-coca-cola-obtains-its-coca.html
So while I can’t prove it, in the sense that I don’t have an old bottle of coke to test, I would say the citations provide enough supporting evidence to reasonably conclude that Coke did indeed have coke in it.
“Where does the name Coca-Coal Come From? Coca-Coal refers to two original ingredients found in Coke…”
You just wrote COAL instead of Cola 2 times, that’s embarrassing. Change it.
Really good point, that was a huge copy edit fail. Thank you so much for catching that. Goodbye embarrassing errors, hello well-worded soft drink facts.
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