Coca-Cola never patented their “secret formula” because otherwise they would be required to disclose it to the public

Coca-Cola’s “secret recipe” story reaches back nearly a century. The original recipe was only written down in 1919, more than half a century after Confederate Colonel John Pemberton, who was wounded in the American Civil War and became addicted to morphine invented the drink in 1886. Until then, it was passed down by word of mouth.

The formula was finally committed to paper when a group of investors led by Ernest Woodruff took out a loan to purchase the company in 1919. “As collateral, he provided a written record of the Coca Cola secret formula.

On September 12, 1919, Coca-Cola Co. was purchased by a group of investors for $25 million and reincorporated. The company publicly offered 500,000 shares of the company for $40 a share

The original copy of the formula was held in SunTrust Bank’s main vault in Atlanta for 86 years. Its predecessor, the Trust Company, was the underwriter for the Coca-Cola Company’s initial public offering in 1919. On December 8, 2011, the original secret formula was moved from the vault at SunTrust Banks to a new vault containing the formula which will be on display for visitors to its World of Coca-Cola museum in downtown Atlanta.

Coca-Cola has always claimed only two senior executives know the formula at any given time, although they have never revealed names or positions, and senior executives can’t travel on the same plane.

The vault, like one straight from a film, has a palm scanner, a numerical code pad and massive steel door. Inside its walls, there’s another safe box with more security features. And inside that, a metal case containing what its owners call “the most guarded trade secret in the world.” A piece of paper with, according to Coca-Cola, a recipe inside.