Is Coca-Cola Short for Cocaine-Cola?

coca-colaAfter recent news concerning the discovery of nearly 815 pounds of cocaine at a France Coca-Cola plant, the media instantly began buzzing. How could this happen? Who is the culprit? Moreover, why Coca-Cola? As it turns out, the connection between cocaine and Coke are not entirely new, it has been in existence for decades. For some, cocaine at a Coke plant seemed like a return to the company’s roots. Is Coca-Cola short for Cocaine-Cola?

In the early 1900s, a company named Maywood Chemical Works, now called the Stepan Company, and Coca-Cola entered a partnership to import coca leaves to the Coke Company from Peru. Reportedly, prior to selling to the soda company, Maywood removed the cocaine alkaloid from the leaves. The alkaloid is an agent found in purified cocaine powder. The leftover extract is what remained in the soda company’s product.

Allegedly, Asa Candler, Coca-Cola’s first president, was not comfortable with the coca leaves and had all traces of the drug removed. What many did not know was that Coke continued to include a supposed “decocainized coca leaf extract” in the signature drink. This became one of the secret ingredients notated as Merchandise #5 on the company’s ledgers. Federal law sanctioned this practice and legislators penned special exemptions for three separate laws in agreement. Some lawmakers referred to the amended clause as the “Coca-Cola Joker” because they knew the purpose was to protect Coke’s secretive coca business.

Although the inclusion of the secret ingredient, a mixture of kola nut powder, was legal, it seemed deceptive. Many were left wondering if Coca-Cola was short for Cocaine-Cola. Initially, the coca leaves came from Peru; however, the demand became so great that another law came into play in order to allow more leaves to come into the country… beyond what was necessary for medicinal purposes. Under this law, the alkaloids were extracted from the coca leaves in the presence of federal officials.coca-cola

This arrangement worked well for many years until Coke decided it would be more productive to grow coca leaves in the U.S. secretly. As bizarre as this may sound, this is exactly what happened. A hidden operation called the “Alakea” project erected in Hawaii. Scientists from the University of Hawaii participated in the scheme but were prohibited from sharing any information for fear that the public would learn the connection between Coca-Cola and the cocaine business. Perhaps, if the word has gotten out, the name of Coke’s hallmark drink would change from Coca-Cola to Cocaine-Cola.

Reportedly, it was not long before a fungus wiped out the entire crop forcing the project’s abandonment. Coke simply returned to its previous method of sourcing coca leaves from Peru. The popular cola brand maintains that cocaine was never “an added ingredient” in its famous soft drink, but the jury is still out on that notion. According to Snopes, early versions are believed to have contained the drug because of the use of coca-leaf extract. The exact levels are still in question and, supposedly, much of it was removed from the drink by the late 19th century. Another report states the Coke contained merely trace levels initially, and by 1929, it was completely free of the drug.

On last Thursday, a huge stash of cocaine worth $56 million appeared in a Coca-Cola Factory in France. The shipment came from Costa Rica and was strategically nestled among orange juice concentrate. No arrests have taken place in connection with the cocaine shipment; however, an investigation is in progress. The question remains, “Is Coca-Cola short for Cocaine-Cola?”

By Cherese Jackson (Virginia)


Huffington Post: Coca-Cola Has Always Had A Connection To The Cocaine Business
Independent: Workers find 370kg of smuggled cocaine worth €50m in French Coca-Cola factory
Snopes: Cocaine-Cola

Photo Credits:

Top Image Courtesy of Nic Taylor – Flickr License
Inline Image Courtesy of Gerardo Diego Ontiveros – Flickr License
Featured Image Courtesy of Rui Pina – Flickr License

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