Atlanta — The Coca-Cola Co. says it will take more than an order from a federal judge in Delaware to pry its 99yearold secret formula out of a safe whose combination is known to only a few executives.

“The company has never disclosed the secret formula for its products and that policy will not change,” Coke spokesman Mark Prisinger said Wednesday.

  1. S. District Judge Murray Schwartz, responding to a pretrial motion by 40 Coke bottlers, ordered the soft drink giant Tuesday to reveal the formula of several products.

“Nothing is sacred in civil litigation,’ Schwartz said. “Even the legendary barriers erected by the Coca-Cola Co. to keep its formulas from the world must fall if the formulas are needed to allow plaintiffs and the court to determine the truth in these disputes.”

The bottlers filed suit in 1983 against Coke over the pricing of the syrups used for various Coke soft drinks.

The suit contends the syrups for each drink are essentially the same and should have similar prices. But the only way to know for sure, the bottlers said, was for Coke to reveal its formula.

Schwartz, in a 29page opinion, agreed.

Coke official say the secret formula, the company’s standard since it was concocted in a backyard kettle 99 years ago, is locked in a vault whose combination is known only by a few top executives who are never allowed to board the same airplane.

Schwartz said he would issue a protective order to prevent the formulas from becoming public and gave attorneys for the bottlers and the company 20 days to work out an agreement.

The original formula for Coca-Cola was devised May 8, 1886, by an Atlanta pharmacist named John Styth Pemberton, who melted a mixture of sugar, water and other ingredients in a brass kettle over an open fire in his back yard.

The result was a concoction he planned to market for $1 a bottle called French Wine Coca. Since the drink included coca leaf and kola nut, Pemberton’s bookkeeper suggested the name change to Coca-Cola.

Over the years, company officials have refused to reveal the exact ingredients of the syrup, declining at one point to market Coke in India because the government insisted on knowing the formula.

Article extracted from this publication >>  August 30, 1985