Is it true Coca-Cola once contained cocaine?

To what extent and how similar was this to the street drug cocaine?

Until 1903, the world-famous soft drink contained a significant dose of cocaine.



1 Answer 1


Is it true Coca-Cola once contained Cocaine?

Yes, yes, yes; it did. When created, Coca-Cola's two key ingredients were cocaine and caffeine. Guess how the name Coca-Cola was derived? Since the cocaine was derived from the coca leaf and the caffeine from kola nut; the name lead to Coca-Kola; but later for marketing purposes, they changed the name Coca-Kola to Coca-Cola. (1) (2)

I'm curious as to if it contained cocaine and if so, to what extent?

John Pemberton, founder of Coca Cola, used five ounces of coca leaf per gallon of syrup (0.64 mL per L), a SIGNIFICANT dose. In 1891, businessman Asa Griggs Candler who bought Coca-Cola later, claimed his formula ( heavily modified heavily from Pemberton's original) contained only a 10th of this amount. (3)

In the end, Coca-Cola once contained an estimated nine milligrams of cocaine per glass. (3)

Livescience.com claim: Until 1903, the world-famous soft drink contained a significant dose of cocaine.

Also true.

  • After 1904, Coca-Cola started using spent-leaves instead of fresh-leaves, aka, the leftovers of the cocaine-extraction process with trace levels of cocaine. (4)
  • Today, Coca-Cola uses a cocaine-free coca leaf extract prepared in Stepan Company in New Jersey. (5)

(1) "Coca-cola". Pponline.co.uk. Retrieved March 13, 2011.

(2) "The History of Coca Cola". Archived from the original on July 10, 2007.

(3) Liebowitz, Michael, R. (1983). The Chemistry of Love. Boston: Little, Brown, & Co.

(4) "Is it true Coca Cola once contained cocaine?". Archived from the original on January 18, 2010. Retrieved February 27, 2007.

(5) May, Clifford D. "How Coca-Cola Obtains Its Coca", The New York Times, July 1, 1988. Accessed April 11, 2008. "A Stepan laboratory in Maywood, N.J., is the nation's only legal commercial importer of coca leaves, which it obtains mainly from Peru and, to a lesser extent, Bolivia. Besides producing the coca flavoring agent sold to The Coca-Cola Company, 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." See links for more information.

  • It's worth nothing that "Cocaine" back then wasn't really a "thing" as it is today. Also, there's a difference (a huge one!) between using Coca leaves and refined cocaine.
    – T. Sar
    Nov 10, 2015 at 12:29
  • and do people get high or on or whatever effect cocaine have?
    – user4951
    Jun 4, 2016 at 17:04

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