The secret formula for Coca-Cola has always been one of the most heavily-guarded secrets in the world.  It's up there with the secret recipe for KFC, where the government is keeping the aliens, and what happened to Tony Soprano.

So this is pretty big news:  Over the weekend, producers from the public radio show "This American Life" said they stumbled across the formula when they were digging through 32-year-old archives of the "Atlanta Journal-Constitution".

On February 18th, 1979, there's an article about Coca-Cola founder John Pemberton, with some photos of his hand-written journal.  And one of them shows what they BELIEVE is the secret formula for Coke.  It's been right there, all along.

The recipe contains everything from sugar, vanilla, and caramel, to lime juice, alcohol and cinnamon.  (--You can see the full recipe on this page.)

The researchers reproduced the recipe, and some people said they couldn't tell the difference.  But it never tasted quite right. 

Yesterday, Coca-Cola spokeswoman Kerry Tressler said a company historian tested the recipe, and that it wasn't quote, "the real thing . . . our formulation is our company's most valued trade secret, and we will not be coming forward with that formula."  

She also addressed some famous rumors about the recipe:  Yes, it exists, hand-written on a piece of paper, and it's kept in a bank vault.  But no, it's not true that only two people in the company know the recipe at any given time.

Kerry says that one's false, and that, quote, "We cannot confirm the number of people who are familiar with the formulation, but it is only a small handful." 

(Time / LA Times)