The Relationship Between Coca-Cola and Cocaine

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The name may have been a give-away, but did you know that once upon a time, the world’s most famous soft drink Coca-Cola contained the harmful and extremely addictive drug cocaine?

You bet it did; in fact, one of its main ingredients in the soft drink was the ‘tonic’ of the coca plant, as seen highlighted in the picture above.
The coca plant is the manufacturer of the drug cocaine, which is created from its leaves.

Coca-Cola was created by a chemist called John Pemberton, who founded the soft drink between 1885 and 1886. He claimed it to be a medicine that could cure various ailments, which included headaches, impotence and even morphine addiction!

The name ‘Coca-Cola’ originated from its ingredients, one being the leaves of the coca plant, the other being the kola nut, which gives the soft drink caffeine.
However, cocaine was quickly removed from Coca-Cola after complaints that it had too much of a similar effect of the drug itself.

Despite removing its key ingredient, the company decided to stick to its name and simply started to use un-synthesized coca leaves, which did not contain cocaine.

However, this did not go down well with the US Government, who took out a lawsuit against Coca-Cola for misbranding, saying that they did not have the right to keep their name since they stopped using active cocaine from the leaves of the coca plant in their soft drink. Despite all this, the company still won the case.

Today, Coca-Cola still utilises coca leaves in the manufacturing of this popular soft drink. A US business called Stepan, extracts cocaine from the leaves of the coca plant, which is then sent to Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals, who use it in their medicines.

Coca-Cola uses the spent leftover leaves from Stepan in their soft drink syrup.

Stepan is the only business in the US that’s legally sanctioned to bring in coca leaves all the way from Peru, while Mallinckrodt is the only pharmaceutical company authorized to use cocaine in their medicines.

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