Putting the COKE in Coca-Cola: The Reintroduction of Cocaine Back Into the Popular Soft Drink

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Coca Cola’s newest advertisement, marking the reintroduction of the original ingredient cocaine (Coca-Cola).

By Jessica A. Dennehy, Natalie May

Over the last few years, Coca-Cola has introduced a variety  of new Coke flavors, including Cherry Coke, Vanilla Coke,  Zesty Blood Orange, and Coke with Coffee. None have had the desired effect of dramatically increasing sales for Coca-Cola, the manufacturer of the Coke Beverage. Therefore, in the months leading up to the 138th anniversary of the invention of the beverage, the company has decided to reintroduce the usage of one of the ingredients used in the original recipe: cocaine. 

When John Pemberton created Coca-Cola in 1886, he originally marketed it as a medical drink, claiming that it alleviates headaches and was made as a “brain and nerve tonic.” Coca, the first half of the name, was based on the usage of coca leaves for the flavoring of the beverage. The “Cola” portion of the brand was most likely a play on the usage of kola nuts, which was the original source of caffeine in the drink. The advertisement of its “tonic” quality came from their admitted use of caffeine and cocaine. 

The usage of cocaine in their formula was removed in 1903, along with the medical marketing. The chemical process that separates the cocaine from the coca leaf reportably alters the flavoring, which marked the first of many comments on the different taste. However, as everyone got high through other means, the sales of Coca Cola remained steady for the majority of the 20th century.

Now,  however, with the plummeting sales of Coca-Cola due to Gen Z having different preferences for soft drinks (Sparkling Ice ringing any bells?), Coca-Cola has recently announced the reintroduction of cocaine back into the drink, hinging on the “restored” flavor attracting and keeping customers. An official of The Coca-Cola Company, when interviewed regarding the decision regarding inserting cocaine into the ingredient list, said “I see absolutely no issue with putting cocaine in Coca-Cola… I, along with the rest of the company, simply hope that the sale of Coca-Cola is as high as the consumers.”