by David Sisler
Many men have held the offices. Many more will ascend to those same lofty positions. Of all of their qualifications, of all of their reasons for taking on the responsibilities of those positions, there is one thing for certain — they never travel together. They always make separate arrangements, even if they are going to the same place and are to be there at the same time. If disaster should strike their aircraft, it would be an unspeakable disaster if they were all on board. They never even travel in the same car together, for fear of the unthinkable. They are not the President and the Vice President of the United States. They are the company executives and the chief chemist of a company whose name is known around the world: Coca Cola.
What they are protecting is the secret formula for the world's most popular soft drink. Somewhere in a bank vault in Atlanta is a slip of paper with seventeen or eighteen mostly common ingredients. Mix them in the proper amounts and under the proper conditions and you have Classic Coke. These men know where the bank is and they know what is written on the paper. Only these men know the secret — or so the rumor goes.
Robert Baskin, a spokesman for Coca Cola was once asked to reveal the location of the bank. He graciously declined, saying, "It's like asking a security company how they keep a building secure. They're just not going to tell you or it wouldn't be secure anymore."
In his book Big Secrets, William Poundstone says the number of people who know the Coca-Cola formula is just two. He also claims to have discovered that the bank vault holding the secret formula is owned by the Trust Company of Georgia. Poundstone goes even further to print a recipe based on an analysis of Coke that produces "a gallon of syrup very similar to Coca-Cola's." Among the 17 ingredients in his recipe are nutmeg oil, lemon oil, cassia oil, alcohol and coca leaves from which the cocaine has been extracted. That last ingredient might make it difficult to recreate Coke at home.
Somewhere in a bank vault in Lexington, Kentucky, is another closely guarded secret: the Colonel's eleven herbs and spices which make Kentucky Fried Chicken.
To ensure that spice vendors don't know the formula for this famous fried chicken coating, the secret blend of eleven herbs and spices is mixed at two different locations and then combined elsewhere with the aid of an IBM processing system. All this technology and secrecy and security safeguards a formula that was originally mixed by KFC's founder, Colonel Harlan Sanders, in a container, on the concrete floor of his backyard porch.
William Poundstone lists what he thinks are the ingredients for this well-kept secret recipe. He says he came by the recipe thanks to a KFC employee who smuggled out a sample of the coating and then he had it analyzed by a laboratory. What he found was shocking — only four ingredients: salt, ground black pepper, flour and monosodium glutamate. KFC Spokesperson Jean Litterst insists there are eleven ingredients.
But it wasn't just the ingredients that made the Colonel's Southern Fried Chicken so special. To speed up the cooking process, Harlan Sanders used a "new-fangled device" he first saw demonstrated in the 1930's. He found that frying the chicken with a pressure cooker shortens the time, locks in moisture, and keeps the chicken juicy.
Another author who has uncovered some delicious secrets is Todd Wilbur. He has written Top Secrets, More Top Secrets, and Top Restaurant Secrets. He says the secret to Orange Julius' frothy drink is egg whites. The incredible taste of "Cheddar Bay Biscuits" at Red Lobster may be the result of one and three-fourths cups of cheddar cheese to every two cups of biscuit mix. If you get all of the spices right, have the ground beef and the two kinds of beans, you still won't have Olive Garden's "Pasta e Fagioli" unless you have ditali pasta — regular macaroni just will not do. When cooking up your own hamburger with two all-beef patties it won't be "special sauce" if you make it with ketchup. Sure it looks like ketchup, but it's really French dressing.
As long as I'm giving away secrets, we have room for one more, from the author of fourteen books: "Glory to God! God is the One who can make you strong in faith by the Good News and by the message about Jesus Christ. The message about Christ is the secret truth that was hidden for long ages past, but is now made known. It has been made clear through the writings of the prophets. And by the command of the eternal God it is made known to all nations, that they might believe and obey."
Published in the Augusta Chronicle 2/28/98
Copyright 1998 by David Sisler. All Rights Reserved.
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