For more than one hundred years, people have been drinking Coca-Cola. It originated as a temperance drink, to be used as a replacement for alcoholic beverages. It was also considered a medicinal product, frequently used to treat nerves, morphine addiction, indigestion, and headaches. The name Coca-Cola is derived from two of its key ingredients, coca leaves and kola nuts (where the soda’s caffeine content comes from). These are just a few fascinating pieces of trivia about the 133-year-old soda. With so many interesting facts, there doesn’t seem to be any need for urban legends. Yet, when a product is subject to such far-reaching and enduring popularity, it’s not surprising that a few myths have sprung up along the way. Here are ten famous Coca-Cola myths that have far more basis in fiction than fact.
10. Mentos and Coke
Does anyone even eat Mentos anymore? Or are they solely being produced to be used as a method of wowing students in middle school science classes? If you were ever a twelve-year-old, you know about the classic Mentos and Coke experiment. It takes the vinegar and baking soda routine to a whole other level. Simply dropping the candy into a two-liter bottle of Coca-Cola leads to an impressive eruption of bubbles and foam. Imagine baking soda and vinegar, but better. Unsurprisingly, this experiment lead many to wonder what exactly would happen if one were to consume the candy and the soda simultaneously. The only logical hypothesis (at least for seventh graders) is that the combination would be deadly. However, the reality is far less sinister. Sure, mixing Coke and Mentos would have an unpleasant effect, but, contrary to what the stories would have you believe, it won’t cause your stomach to explode, which was the most popular theory. Still, even though the effects aren’t fatal, the consequences will be pretty messy, so we strongly recommend you don’t try it out.
9. It’s not vegetarian-friendly
The Coca-Cola rumor mill has also produced the urban legend that the famous soft drink contains some questionable ingredients. According to this rumor, Coke has been deceiving us all along. Allegedly, the soda’s secret ingredient is pork. Now, the idea of a beverage containing meat is both weird and a little disgusting (okay, it’s more than just a little disgusting). However, for vegetarians, it’s downright offensive. Since Coca-Cola has never made any mention of their beverage containing animal products, vegans and vegetarians have been consuming it for years. You can see how a reveal like this would be upsetting. It was particularly troubling for those who avoid meat for religious reasons. However, Coca-Cola had a good reason for never making the inclusion of meat in their soda public knowledge. That reason is, of course, that there’s absolutely no truth to it. So, if you’re vegetarian, vegan, or simply think that pork has no right to be in liquid form, don’t worry. No mammals or birds were harmed in the making of this beverage.
8. Too much of a good thing…
People are quick to point out the negative consequences of consuming too much of a good thing. This myth supports that claim in the most extreme way possible. The urban legend goes that once upon a time, a student living in India died after chugging eight Cokes. Now, are we saying that Coca-Cola is healthy? No. Are we saying that you, too, should try chugging eight cans in a row? Absolutely not. But are we saying that it’s not lethal? Pretty much. It’s safe to say that chugging eight Cokes would probably result in a nasty stomachache, but death is unlikely. Recently there’s been a push for people to cut down on soft drinks due, so it’s possible that this rumor arose as a way to scare people into skipping the soda, or as a result of all the bad press Coke has been getting lately. Still, chugging eight cans of anything in a row is a bad idea (we’re looking at all you college students out there), so it’s recommended that you practice moderation in everything you drink, Coca-Cola included.
7. Losing My Religion
There’s also been some talk of religious intolerance on Coca-Cola’s part. As mentioned above, the rumors that pork was secretly being included in their sodas was said to be a form of hate directed towards Muslims, who avoid meat on the basis of their religion. Stories of their anti-Semitism have also been swirling. There’s no evidence to support either of these claims. These rumors lead consumers to ask Coca-Cola if there are any religions that they promote or are affiliated with. The company was willing to answer, stating that they do not favor any religion over another. Additionally, they made it clear that they have always been, and will continue to, remain neutral in regard to any political causes and governments as well. Neutrality on their part makes sense from a business perspective, as their soft drinks are available worldwide, and they want them to be accessible to the largest portion of the population possible. While many of the other myths addressed on this list are funny and lighthearted, this isn’t something to joke about. Religious intolerance is a serious accusation that absolutely shouldn’t be made lightly.
6. It can dissolve a tooth overnight
The source of this rumor is no mystery. It’s probably rooted in the efforts of parents to deter their kids from drinking sugary drinks like Coca-Cola. One of the most well-known entries on this list, the myth proclaims that if you leave a tooth submerged in Coke overnight, it’ll be completely dissolved by morning. Dentists who want you to cut down your sugar intake would probably endorse this legend, but there’s not actually any truth to it. What is true, however, is that Coca-Cola isn’t doing your teeth any favors. But it’s definitely not so fast acting that it can make a tooth disappear overnight. Although that would be a pretty cool magic trick. This urban legend comes from the fact that Coke is often referred to as being incredibly acidic. But the fact of that matter is that other inane food items, like orange juice and vinegar are actually far more acidic than this soda. And you don’t hear any concerns about orange juice causing anyone’s teeth to melt away. So, while the possibility of cavities shouldn’t be completely discounted, you shouldn’t be putting any stock in this particular myth.
5. Santa’s origins
Just like people like to say that Hallmark invented Valentine’s Day, it’s not uncommon to hear people credit Coca-Cola with the creation of Santa Claus. While Coca-Cola played a role in popularizing the modern depiction of Santa, they in no way invented it. The idea of a figure like Santa Claus has been around for hundreds of years and is present in many cultures. Inspiration drawn from several sources and years of evolution brought us the Santa we know and love today. Coca-Cola began incorporating Santa in their advertisements in the early thirties, depicting him as an old, bearded man in a red suit with a bowl full of jelly. Many argue that this was the first time the character was ever illustrated in such a way, but this isn’t the case. Santa’s modern image came about in the late-nineteenth or early-twentieth century, with a man named Thomas Nast being credited for its conception. Moreover, Santa Claus had been depicted as clad all in red for over one hundred years prior to the release of Coca-Cola’s first Santa-themed advertisement. You can now rest easy knowing that, while Christmas has become a celebration of mass-consumerism, it turns out it might actually be slightly less based in consumerism than everyone has been led to believe. And isn’t that a wholesome thought?
4. It was originally green
Coca-Cola is brown, and it has been since its release in 1886. Yet, for some reason, there’s a popular urban legend that, back in the day, this soft drink was green. This is a prime example of how misinformation (aka Fake News) so easily spreads across the Internet. The basis for this strange myth? Possibly the fact that Coca-Cola has occasionally used green cans and bottles to hold their famous soft drink. The company would never have even considered making this soda green, as its dark brown color was selected for a very specific reason. Back in Coca-Cola’s early days, production was not nearly as standardized as it is today. Coloring the drink brown was the perfect way to mask any imperfections that may have occurred during the manufacturing process. This might make you a bit skeptical about the quality of Coke back then, but just remember, this was at a time when cocaine was still one of its key ingredients. Times have changed. Today, the beverage continues to be colored a rich brown, probably just due to convention. People are used to Coke being brown, 7-Up being clear and Orange Crush being orange. Trying to mess with the status quo would likely lead to serious outcry. If you ever found yourself wondering how exactly Coke gets its distinctive color, it’s usually chalked up to dyes or caramel, which has been a regular ingredient in the soft drink over the years. So, there you have it. While beer might go green for St. Patrick’s Day, Coca-Cola always has been, and always will be, just good old brown.
3. (She don’t lie) Cocaine
It’s a well-known fact that Coca-Cola was originally made with cocaine. Yep, from 1886 to 1903, the soft drink contained what is now widely considered to be an incredibly dangerous drug. That’s why it gave people so much pep after drinking it. The risks of cocaine were unknown until the early twentieth century, and Coca-Cola wasn’t the only household item that contained the now-illicit substance. It was also included in some cigarettes and toothache drops. Even though cocaine hasn’t been used in Coca-Cola for over a hundred years, there are still whispers that it’s still being used as a secret ingredient. This is, of course, false. The rumor probably stems from the fact that coca leaves, from which cocaine is derived, continue to be used in the production of the soft drink. However, the leaves used in the soda are what are called “spent” leaves. This means that all traces of cocaine are removed from them and they therefore will have no stimulating effect when consumed. The leaves are processed at the Stepan Company in Maywood, New Jersey, and are used in the soft drink as a means of flavoring. There’s tight regulation that ensures that your sodas are drug-free and can be safely enjoyed, so there’s no need for alarm.
2. Pop Rocks and Coke
Similar to the Mentos and Coca-Cola rumor is the Pop-Rocks and Coca-Cola rumor. This one was particularly prevalent in the eighties and nineties, and if you were a kid during that period, you probably know exactly what we’re referring to. If you’re unfamiliar with Pop Rocks, it’s a small, crystallized candy that came in packets, which most people poured directly into their mouths. Upon entering your mouth, the candy started to “pop”. In scientific terms, that means that they released carbon dioxide gas. Because of the popping sensation of the candy, people assumed that Pop Rocks and Coca-Cola would have a reaction similar to that of Mentos and Coke. The general theory is that a mixture of Pop Rocks and Coca-Cola would cause your stomach to explode. As we all learned earlier in this post, consuming a combination of Mentos and Coke, while not the greatest idea, won’t actually kill you. Mixing Pop Rocks and the carbonated beverage is even less dangerous as, once the carbon dioxide is released from the Pop Rocks, all that’s left behind is sugar. So, consuming a combo of Pop Rocks and Coke is pretty much the same as mixing sugar into your soft drink. The riskiest thing about it is how sweet it would be. Soda’s sweet enough already, adding extra sugar to it would be enough to make anyone queasy.
1. All-purpose cleaner
The final myth we’ll be busting today is one that is common not only in knowledge, but in practice. Far too many people have attempted this one, which is why we want to emphasize how bad of an idea it is. The concept of using Coca-Cola as an all-purpose cleaner and stain remover is a popular lifehack. This myth can be traced back to the use of vinegar and carbonated water as stain removers. The idea was that, since Coke is more acidic, it’s also more effective. Things start to go wrong when you factor in the fact that Coca-Cola contains dyes, which are better at causing stains than they are at removing them. Additionally, anyone who’s ever spilled Coke before knows just how sticky the stuff is. Trying to clean up Coca-Cola is disastrous, so the idea of using it as a cleaning product seems ridiculous. There are many more effective alternatives out there for cleaning stains and spills. If you really feel like going down the DIY-cleaner path and using a carbonated beverage, opt for carbonated water. It’s not sticky and it won’t leave behind stains. Or you could just buy traditional cleaning products which are specifically designed to, you know, clean things. Coca-Cola really shouldn’t be your first line of defense.