COCA-COLA ONCE CONTAINED COCAINE. Almost everyone who’s ever had a Coke and a smile has heard that the original formula for the world’s most famous soft drink contained ample doses of a certain addictive secret ingredient.

Coca-Cola’s inventor, Dr. John Pemberton, became a morphine addict during the Civil War and was desperate for a cure. He turned to a new (and perfectly legal) miracle drug called cocaine. So when he whipped up his sugary brown “nerve tonic” in 1886, he loaded it with a potent extract of coca leaves. How would the original formula measure up to modern standards? A six-ounce serving of Coca-Cola contained 8.45 milligrams of blow – chug four bottles and you’d be ready to wrestle one of today’s muscular amazons. “Keith Richards could definitely get off on it,” says Mark Pendergrast, author of For God, Country and Coca-Cola. “But he’d have to go to the bathroom a lot.” Coke’s punch was an open secret : For year’s official sign language for the soda was the motion of jabbing a needle in your arm.

The enduring Coke legend is the real thing. But a wave of hysteria about cocaine addiction swept America shortly after the turn of the century, and by 1929 Coke was – sigh – coke-free!

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