What’s In Coca Cola?

by Wells

I, Phil Wells, drink Coca Cola instead of Pepsi. Granted, I don’t drink too much soda as it is, but when it comes down to it Coke is my cola of choice. So I was at lunch one day, polishing off a big pile of leftover Rice a Roni, and as I sipped my can of Coke I became curious. What is this delicious substance made of? The label says it’s only got six ingredients, yet I sat there mesmerized. After much research and many hours in the lab, I am able to present to you, my loyal salad eaters, an ingredient-by-ingredient analysis of Coca Cola.


Fish have sex in water. So does Aquaman. The Coca Cola people say they’re able to filter out all of the love juices through distillation, evaporation, reverse osmosis, and the like. But imagine the effectiveness of these methods measured against the rare infinitesimal amount of times that these procedures simply do not work. Surely, one or two tiny little spermies has survived and persevered long enough to make it to the bottling plant. The next time you take a sip from America’s favorite cola, imagine the odds that Namor the Submariner just had sex with your mouth by proxy.

Makes you feel powerful, doesn’t it? You’re one step away from being the Queen of Atlantis.

That water you just ingested has almost certainly been to more places than you have. Before you drank that can of soda, the water they used to make it was part of some babbling stream coursing its way through a majestic mountainside that you’ll never see because you fill your vacation time with boring leisure activities that thousands of other people have already tried. The source of the stream may have been a huge freshwater lake teeming with delicious catfish that you’ll never eat because your corporate whore father never took you on his fishing outings with his buddies. Before it joined the lake, that water was part of a cloud that traveled halfway across the atmosphere of the planet, overlooking dazzlingly bright cities where humanity has erected the most beautiful structures that you’ll never see because you can’t trust your drunk cousin to watch your cats for a week.

And what now? You’ve got this world-weary water in your system. You’ve interrupted this magnificent substance’s fantastic voyage so it can know the tedium of facilitating your metabolic processes or the vile squalor of breaking down your food into poop. This water, the same water that has been on Earth since there has been water on Earth, is now doomed to sustain a being who has to read the same recipe twenty times and still can’t make peanut butter cookies from memory. If the water is lucky it’ll be quickly and effortlessly peed out of you. If the water had a mind and was given its druthers, it would surely be bled out of a fatal wound. Knowing you, though, it will most likely be squeezed out of a pimple.

I wouldn’t worry too much. The water will find its way out eventually. Even if it’s stuck in you until you finally die, it’ll be drained out of you and squirted into the ground where it’ll rejoin the silent spring. It won’t complain that you held it up. Its soul won’t carry any of the good deeds or awful things you did when it was a part of you. It’ll just evaporate, fall, flow, get drunk by some other ape, and stoically start all over again.

In this way, water is better than you. And since water is the primary ingredient in Coca Cola, Coke is also better than you. So stop complaining that it’s $0.60 a can in the vending machine at work.

High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS)

It should be stated, first of all, that corn syrup is only called “corn syrup” in the US and Canada. Most other countries call it “glucose syrup” but there are a few interesting idiomatic translations for this phrase from other languages to English:

Japan: Bunion Preserves

Greece: Callous Honey

Turkish: Cob Oil

Mandarin: Glaze Which Was Squoze From The Flower of Flakes

Forgotten Realms: -4 Penalty to Saving Throw versus Type-II Diabetes

North Bergensian: “The Ol’ Monkey Squirts”

The dispute between Communist Cuba and the US caused the American government to shun foreign cane sugar imports and seek a domestic alternative to sweeten their beverages. The answer came on April 26th, 1974, when an American adventurer named Radcliffe Rex Baxter discovered high fructose corn syrup at the bottom of a well in Lawton, OK.

Archer Daniels Midland, corn syrup tycoon, is a real American hero. With exemplary farsightedness, he was able to see that a world paying 3 measly cents for every pound of Cuban sugar it could get its hand on was not a world that America wanted to be a part of. He went to work right away making his fortune in the corn and corn syrup industry. And did he use this fortune for personal gain? Did he squander it on licorice whips and loose women? Fuck no! The man was a philanthropist. He set up a special interest group (or a “lobby” if you’re a yellow journalist) that identified legislators and leaders who represented the best interests of our fine nation’s humble corn industry (corn growers, corn huskers, corn blowers, corn holers, corn bowlers, men made of corn, etc.) and rewarded their steadfastness with piles and piles of sticky cash. Thanks to his effort, vile sugar (which still costs 3 cents a pound pretty much everywhere but America) now costs American importers roughly 22 cents a pound due to brave subsidies imposed by our Congress. And even though HFCS has been defamed by so-called doctors who say it “artificially stimulates the human appetite when it is eaten causing obesity and adult-onset diabetes”, Archer Daniels Midland can proudly say that his baby, his high fructose corn syrup, feeds hard-working American farmers to the tune of 14% of domestic corn’s annual $19 billion earnings. That’ll buy lots and lots of Coca Cola! Yay agriculture!

The process for turning corn into corn syrup is truly a marvel of modern science, as well as the gem of American culinary innovation. Corn is picked by itinerant laborers and stripped of its tarty green pajamas before it is packed on the back of a mule or large goat or whatever will bring it to the factory. Once it’s there each cob is ripped from its many kernels in a tearful goodbye ceremony. The shucked cobs are dried to make pipes or are used as toys for third world children in poverty who can’t afford dolls. The kernels are soaked in an acidic combination of lots of water, a little sulphur, and a trace amount of fart gas if any of the mill workers are feeling sassy when that batch is being steeped. This slurry is then filtered through old shirts, pulverized by angry inmates, centrifuged in vats bigger than theme parks, and separated into two piles: one solid pile containing husks and little seeds for feeding cattle and the elderly, and another viscous pile of goo that will be scraped off the floor and altered with enzymes until it tastes like Juicy Fruit or Pepsi or whatever.

High fructose corn syrup is sweeter than regular sugar because of (surprise, surprise) its high fructose content. Regular sugar, the tedious white crap you spoon into your coffee every morning so you can stagger through another unrewarding day in your dreary cube, has about a fifty-fifty ratio of fructose to glucose. But when factory workers introduce all sorts of neat enzymes to great big pools of man-made corn oil, the sugars in it break down into tinier and tinier little pieces until they can separate the glucose out of there by running some ions through the stuff. That makes the fructose ratio in the remaining syrup as high as 55 or even 90 percent! In scientific terms, that’s sweeter than Angelina Jolie’s poon buried in maraschino cherries.

HFCS can be made using genetically modified corn, which we all know is the leading cause of Godzilla occurrences and zombie plagues. The biased conservative media would have you believe that genetically modified corn would greatly alleviate famine in impoverished parts of the world, but you cannot believe their lies. It has not been proven that genetically modified corn does not cause conjunctivitis, arthritis, gingivitis, appendicitis, bursitis, colitis, encephalitis, hepatitis, laryngitis, meningitis, tonsillitis, or cancer of the balls.

Enjoy high fructose corn syrup at your own risk.

Caramel Color and Phosphoric Acid

Phosphoric acid is used to break down the bonds in sugar before it is cooked, creating Coca Cola’s signature poopy hue. The relationship between these two ingredients, listed adjacently on the list of elements in Coca Cola, cannot be overstated. With phosphoric acid, caramel color would have to be extracted from the pigment in baby’s irises. Don’t worry; it’s usually pigment from the eyes of blind babies who aren’t going to miss it anyway. Usually.

Caramel color is a colloid, meaning it’s really clear liquid with billions and gajillions of tiny little brown blobs floating around in it. In 1961, Swiss chemist Hans Lichtenbliecht tried to remove the solid matter from the fluid in caramel color to create a thicker, darker soft drink which would have been named “Zej.” The end product was a dismal failure, but as a result of the experiment the United States was able to invent the cruise missile before the dirty Communists could. And that’s how Ronald Reagan got an airport named after him.

Phosphoric acid is used in all sorts of cola products, but its most popular use is for rust removal. Its common medium for this application is a gel called Naval jelly. We all remember the day the Republican Party was caused quite a bit of chagrin when Vice President Dan Quayle introduced Naval jelly to his own navel in an attempt to send the product “to its home.” Two prosthetic belly buttons and a reality show later, Dan Quayle became the first American Vice President to successfully defeat lint infection.

Some people might tell you that phosphoric acid causes osteoporosis in the ladies’ bones. Your body will always try to keep an even ratio of phosphorous and calcium in your blood. The theory goes that if you drink gallon upon gallon of phosphoric acid, your body will respond by sucking the calcium out of your own bones to maintain order. This is a frightening prospect if you’re a woman and a coward. The fact is that osteoporosis is God’s way of telling old women that it’s time to stop storing heavy cans of fruit cocktail on the higher shelves. Anyway, if your bones aren’t dense enough to support your body’s weight, I know of no better way to calm your nerves than indulging in an ice-cold Coca Cola. So drink up, ladies!

Natural Flavors

Depending on what batch of Coca Cola your can happened to be filled from, the
“natural flavors” in you beverage may contain any of the following:

Mint, koala pelts, stag’s blood, honeysuckle pollen, roach legs, eye of newt, cobra venom, condensed rage, parsley, sage, rosemary, lime, peat smoke, sailor spit, heavy whipping cream, that stuff that collects under your fingernails until you scoop it out with a matchbook cover, ham, ham snouts, ham feet, ham balls, the monkey from that Jay and Silent Bob movie, Smurf hats, ectoplasm, lemon zest, communion wafers, very small rocks, holly, any of the noble gases except neon, Renu contact lens solution with MoistureLoc, or ginger.


Caffeine is a central nervous system stimulant, having the effect of warding off drowsiness and restoring alertness. To paraphrase the late Rick James, caffeine is a hell of a drug. Any college student in the world will tell you that beverages containing caffeine are a safe, fun way to renew your focus amply to get you through a long night and flunk an exam in the morning anyway because the ethnic dork at the front of the class ruined the damn curve again.

Unfortunately, caffeine can also result in restlessness, a loss of fine motor control, headaches, and dizziness. Since this list describes an admittedly minor shotgun blast to the face and being married to Courtney love, we can comfortably assume that Kurt Cobain must’ve felt like he was overdosing on caffeine in the ephemeral moments before fragments of his skull hit the cabinet behind him and he died.

It is important to note that caffeine cannot replace sleep and should only be used occasionally to restore alertness. Some things that can be used to replace sleep include alcohol, oral sex, and waiting restlessly all night in a burned-out hovel for your killers to find you and finish the job. Caffeine, of course, enhances all of these items.

So there you have it!

My curiosity is sated, and there is something truly rewarding about knowing exactly what I’m putting in my mouth. Those were my grandmother’s last words, coincidentally enough. Fortunately for you, the audience, these are this article’s last words.