Coke Formula Claim: How Did Cliff Kluge Discover Coca-Cola Secret Recipe? Georgia Man To Sell Original Formula On eBay For $15 Million [PHOTO]

By Staff Reporter on May 14, 2013 1:12 PM EDT

Coke Formula
A Coke formula claim was posted on eBay by Georgia man Cliff Kluge. "Buy It Now" for $15 million (Photo: eBay)

A new Coke formula claim? Word spread when eBay seller crank-the-music posted an auction listing that presents what is claimed to be a letter containing the Coca-Cola original recipe. The old letter was dated January 15, 1943.

Seller crank-the-music is Cliff Kluge of Ringgold, Georgia. The Coca-Cola formula is a closely guarded trade secret exclusively known by a few employees within the company. According to Kluge, he just so happened to stumble upon the original recipe.

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"We were at an estate sale of a deceased, renown [sic] Chattanooga chemist," explained Kluge, "who at one time worked at one of the more prominent chemical companies in the area. There were masses upon masses of personal paperwork at the sale. Curious, we bought several boxes of this paperwork, which yielded some interesting finds. Among those finds is what is offered for sale here -- what we believe to be the formula for Coca-Cola."

A remarkable discovery, the formula provided an exact breakdown of ingredients and their portions in order to complete one gallon of concentrate. The concentrate creates 16 gallons of Coca-Cola soda when diluted with water and then carbonated.

Acknowledging the controversy of a Coke formula claim, Kluge admits that he has no way of confirming the authenticity of the paper work that contains the Coca-Cola original formula. However, Kluge has some evidence that suggests a possibility.

Established in 1886, the Coca-Cola Company was founded in Atlanta, Georgia. Remarkably, the letter that Cliff Kluge discovered was in Georgia as well. As to why a letter containing the Coke formula was dated 1943, Kluge speculated in an interview with WXIA-TV that Coca-Cola might have had some difficulty in obtaining all the ingredients necessary to produce its soft drink during World War II. The letter might have been a request for chemists to attempt an alternative recipe that could recreate the Coca-Cola taste with substitute ingredients.

"May we make this perfectly clear -- we can never guarantee and never claim that this is the actual recipe for Coca Cola," stated Kluge in the eBay posting. "Even if this formula was 100% accurate in every aspect -- as mentioned above -- there are only two people in the world that can verify it's [sic] accuracy, and I doubt they will be willing to compromise Coca-Cola to acknowledge our exactness. That is why we are selling this as a historic artifact."

"What I can guarantee is that offered for sale is a single page, hand typed and written, 70+ year old recipe on yellowed paper that was purchased out of an estate of a local chemist in a city that claims the right of being where Coca-Cola Bottling originated. Whoever typed this letter back in 1943, had access to the original recipe, and references that fact on the second page - 'On page 83 of the Extractor is the original Coca-Cola formula(e) which might serve as a source of preparation information.'"

So far, the eBay listing has not attracted any bidders.

"It's just excitement," Kluge admitted. "It's an Easter egg hunt, looking for eggs out there. And when you come up with something like this, it's Christmas."

In 2011, Public Radio's This American Life, a guest on the show claimed to possess the Coca-Cola original formula.

"The formula for Coca-Cola is one of the most jealously guarded trade secrets in the world," said This American Life. "Locked in a vault in Atlanta. Supposedly unreplicable. But we think we may have found the original recipe. And to see if the formula actually might be Coke, we made a batch."

To see whether the Coca-Cola recipe had already been cracked, visit This American Life's podcast, titled "Original Recipe."

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