Coca-Cola Company takes the risk after almost 90 years and moves its ultra-secret recipe out of a bank vault to put it on display at their corporate museum.
The formula, which dates back to 1886, is enclosed inside a metal box that is itself locked inside a new high-tech vault at the company’s World of Coca-Cola museum in Atlanta.
Since 1925, Coca-Cola recipe has been kept under lock and key at SunTrust Banks Inc and the move ties in with the company’s 125th anniversary.
However, there have been suggestions in the U.S that the move follows SunTrust’s decision in 2007 to slowly begin selling its shares in Coca-Cola, although both companies have denied that.
Sun Trust, which provided underwriting services to Coca-Cola when it went public in 1919 and received some of Coca-Cola’s first publicly traded stock, at one time held more than 48 million Coca-Cola shares.
In May 2007, SunTrust sold 9% of its holdings in Coca-Cola as part of a plan to return value to its own shareholders.
In 2008, the bank sold another batch of shares and said that its remaining 30 million Coca-Cola shares were to be put into a structured transaction to be sold in seven years.
Several executives from SunTrust were on hand for the opening of the exhibit.
Bank spokesman Mike McCoy said SunTrust was honored to safeguard the formula for as long as it did. He said the relationship between Coca-Cola and SunTrust has enriched the bank’s history.
“We’re celebrating this as well,” said Mike McCoy.
Muhtar Kent, Coca-Cola CEO, told the crowd at the official unveiling of the exhibit: “The time has come for our secret formula to come back home.”
The crowd at the unveiling watched a video of Muhtar Kent placing a metal box, which the company says contains the formula, inside a five-foot high safe several days ago and locking it.
Visitors were then escorted through a room full of pictures and historical information about the founding of the company and the secret formula.
That display leads into a cylindrical room, where images of glasses filling with Coca-Cola splash across the walls before lights come on and reveal a giant, metal-encased vault with a keypad and a hand-imprint scanner.
A railing keeps visitors several feet away from the vault door. The vault never opens, and Coke officials wouldn’t say if the keypad and hand scanner were there for show or were part of the security measures in place to protect the formula.
The legend of the recipe goes that Coca-Cola was invented in 1886 by Atlanta pharmacist John S. Pemberton.
To keep the crucial recipe a secret he did not write it down, and it was only known to a handful of people.
However, in 1919 Coca-Cola Company needed a bank loan and its then-owner Ernest Woodruff was forced to commit the recipe to paper and put up as collateral.
The recipe was kept in a bank vault in New York until the loan was paid back in 1925, at which point Ernest Woodruff deposited it at Trust Company Bank, which later became SunTrust.
The recipe’s value is illustrated by the fact that some 1.7 billion Coca-Cola products are served every day throughout the world.