Healthy eating conversations often get around to how UN-healthy fizzy beverages are, and there is no more notorious soft drink than Coca-Cola. People have accused Coke of everything from being more corrosive than drain cleaner, it is either made of drugs or can be turned into one, all the way through to it being highly explosive.
Let’s take a look at some of the most popular Coca-Cola urban myths going around the internet and see if we can sort the truth from the lies:
1. Coca-Cola Gets its Coke Name from Cocaine
Coca-Cola’s secret formula did have trace amounts of cocaine at one time, but that tiny amount was eliminated entirely by 1930.
Rather than getting the name from cocaine, Coca-Cola was named for the coca leaves and kola nuts used in the recipe.
Interestingly, the single source of these coca leaves is Stepan Co in New Jersey because only they have the DEA approval to import the leaves and remove the cocaine from them!
2. Coke with Yellow Caps Have Real Sugar
It’s true that Coke bottles with yellow caps have a special meaning, but they are not made with sugar as such. These bottles are made especially for Passover, the Jewish holiday. This is because corn syrup is not kosher, so in those bottles, the usual syrup is replaced with sucrose.
3. Mixing Coke and Mentos is Poisonous
The story goes that a mix of Mentos and Coca-Cola killed two Brazilian children.
No news accounts of such a death in Brazil or anywhere can be found, however. The only reports are regurgitations of the original, fake, story.
OK, so perhaps Coke + Mentos does not create poison, but perhaps it is deadly in other ways …?
4. Coke and Mentos Explodes in Toilet
The viral video is a clever and well-executed fake as described by the creator of the video over on Reddit:
5. Ham in Diet Coke Explodes
British chef Nigella Lawson popularized a recipe for ham-basted in Coke in 2007 and on Twitter she seems to try to deter followers from substituting the full-fat Coke with the Diet alternative …
It turns out this is not a warning due to safety but because Diet Coke will not work as intended. Regular Coca-Cola can be used to caramelize the ham, but artificial sweeteners don’t have that feature.
6. Coca-Cola as Pesticide
Coke is not poisonous to bugs any more than it is toxic to humans.
“Jaggery made from sugar cane has been used commonly for pest control on many occasions. Pepsi and Coca-Cola are being used to achieve the same result,”
7. Coca-Cola + MSG = Aphrodisiac
There have been many rumors saying that Coke when combined with MSG (monosodium glutamate, a flavor enhancer) creates an aphrodisiac. The people at Coca-Cola refute this:
MSG is a flavor enhancer used in many foods, but it is not an ingredient in Coca-Cola. There is no factual or scientific basis for concluding that Coca-Cola is an aphrodisiac — whether or not it is combined with MSG.Coca-Cola company representative
8. Will Coca-Cola and Aspirin Get You High?
Coca-Cola will not get you high. This belief that Coke and aspirin will get you high probably comes from the 1978 film Grease:
9. Diet Coke Illegally Contains More Calories than Advertised
FDA regulations allow any food product that contains fewer than five calories per serving to be advertised as calorie-free.
Diet Coke, which is “sugar-free” due to using Aspartame, does contain non-zero calories from its ingredients but even so, the total per 330ml can is still under one calorie.
10. University Student Overdosed on Coke
There is no truth to this story from what we can tell.
Some point to the carbon dioxide that adds bubbles to Coke as being the culprit. While in extreme concentrations carbon dioxide can be deadly, that is from suffocating due to lack of oxygen. The small amount of fizz in beverages is nothing to be concerned about.
Another alternative explanation could be from drinking too much of the beverage because it is possible to overdrink any fluid, but it has to be truly massive amounts. Nearly all deaths from overdrinking fluids are from water-drinking contests, or from extreme exercise where excessive amounts of fluid were consumed.
Bonus Myth: Coca-Cola Dissolves Teeth
People “prove” the myth that Coca-Cola is corrosive and therefore bad for you by showing Coke being used as a cleaning detergent, unblocking plumbing, or dissolving things such as teeth, meat, and coins.
Coca-Cola will not dissolve a tooth any more than any other soda could. Nearly all carbonated soft drinks contain carbonic acid, small amounts of citric acid, and phosphoric acid. Coke contains less citric acid than orange juice, and the concentration of phosphoric acid in Coke is far too small to dissolve meat, teeth, or metal very quickly, if at all.
While Coca-Cola is not exactly a health drink, due to its overwhelming popularity and brand recognition, it certainly gets the blame for some things that are only true in the wildest of imaginations.
Don’t worry, a drink of Coke is not going to get you high, poison you, or cause spontaneous human combustion!