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Winning-bid kid: Teen pledges $15mn for Coca-Cola secret formula

Published time: May 16, 2013 15:26
Reuters/Kevin Lamarque

Reuters/Kevin Lamarque

An alleged World War II-era Coca-Cola secret recipe auctioned on eBay found a buyer – a 15-year-old who now has three days to somehow rustle up $15.19 million to pay for it.

Georgia antiques dealer Cliff Kluge claims that he has obtained a document of one of corporate America’s secrets that has been guarded for 125 years. He says he discovered the formula among of stack of papers he recently purchased at the estate sale of a prominent Chattanooga chemist.

The opening bid for the yellowing typewritten document of $5 million rose to a buy-it-now $15 million as the famed formula was sold to a teenager.

"It would have been a wonderful thing if it had found a genuine buyer", Kluge said, as quoted by AFP, "but some 15-year-old kid bid on it - and it's not a legitimate bid"

According to eBay rules, the buyer has a three-day period during which he has to pay for the item. Kluge said he will relist the ‘historic document’ if the kid doesn’t find the money.

However Coca-Cola claims that its secret concocted over a century ago by Dr. John S. Pemberton is kept in a vault at its World of Coca-Cola museum in Atlanta.

"We sleep well at night knowing the secret formula is safe and secure with us," Coca-Cola spokesman Petro Kacur said.

Coca-Cola denies the recipe is an original, but admits it may come close to it.

“It’s for a cola. But not Coca-Cola,” said the company’s archivist, Ted Ryan, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports.

The antiques dealer acknowledges on eBay that “there is no doubt (at least in my mind) that whoever typed the letter had seen the original recipe for Coca Cola … more evidence and external factors are falling in place to bolster the fact that this could be the original, with an emphasis on the word ‘could’.”

In 2011, the public radio show ‘This American Life’ claimed it had discovered a supposed handwritten original recipe for Coca-Cola within a photograph accompanying an article published 34 years ago. In its earliest form the beverage was believed to have had cocaine among its ingredients. The beverage company insisted that the recipe was not original.

As it stands, no one can authenticate any alleged copy of the secret formula unless Coca-Cola shows the original recipe - and that will probably never happen.