Did Coca-Cola Ever Have Real Cocaine in It?

Well, not exactly, but…

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All traces of coca leaf extract were removed by 1929. 

A big part of the lore behind Coca-Cola is the belief that once upon a time, the original formula contained enough cocaine to render its drinkers high as a kite. But is there any actual truth to this?

Well, in order to answer that question you need to know something about Coca-Cola’s inventor, John Pemberton. Pemberton became addicted to morphine during the Civil War, and he devised Coca-Cola first as a “tonic wine” that could still dull pain but didn’t contain any morphine. Over time, Pemberton’s formula lost the wine and gained a whole lot of sugar, and when the product took off in around 1891, its main “medicinal” components were kola nuts and the extract of coca leaves (that’s where the name comes from).

The extract of coca leaves that was used in Coca-Cola did indeed contain some of the same properties of cocaine. Sadly, nobody knows exactly how much coca leaf extract was in the formula that consumers first fell in love with, but according to Snopes, by 1904 one ounce of syrup contained an essentially imperceptible 1/400th of a gram of cocaine, and coca extract was completely removed from the drink by 1929.

To answer the question, yes, in its original incarnation Coca-Cola did indeed contain some cocaine. Whether it was enough to actually have much impact on its drinkers, however, remains unknown, and by the turn of the twentieth century it was all but gone.  

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