Who doesn’t know what this is? Officially it is lemonade from cola-nut extract and other plant extracts, carbonated and mixed with sugar and caffeine. It became popular worldwide after druggist John Pemberton invented Coca-Cola in 1886. His non-alcoholic version of the recipe was inspired by the Coca Wine of pharmacist Angelo Mariani, created in 1863; it still contained cocaine. Coca-Cola is a major international brand, and is associated with the United States. It usually contains caramel color, caffeine and sweeteners such as sugar or high fructose corn syrup.
The kola nut is the fruit of the kola tree, a genus (Cola) of trees native to the tropical rainforests of Africa, classified in the family Malvaceae, subfamily Sterculioideae (or treated in the separate family Sterculiaceae). It is related to the South American genus Theobroma, or cocoa. It is an evergreen tree, growing up to 20 m tall (about 60 feet), with glossy ovoid leaves up to 30 cm long and star shaped fruit.
Despite the name, the primary flavoring ingredients in a cola drink are sugar, citrus oils (from oranges, limes, or lemon fruit peel), cinnamon, vanilla, and an acidic flavorant. Manufacturers of cola drinks add trace ingredients to create distinctively different tastes for each brand. Trace flavorings may include nutmeg and a wide variety of ingredients, but the base flavorings that most people identify with a cola taste remain vanilla and cinnamon. Acidity is often provided by phosphoric acid, sometimes accompanied by citric or other isolated acids. Many cola drink recipes are maintained as corporate trade secrets, notably Coca-Cola.
A variety of different sweeteners may be added to cola, with the common sweetener often being dependent on local agricultural policy. High-fructose corn syrup is predominantly used in the United States and Canada due to the lower cost of government subsidized corn. In Europe, however, HFCS is subject to production quotas designed to encourage the production of sugar; sugar is thus typically used to sweeten sodas. In addition, stevia or an artificial sweetener may be used; “sugar-free” or “diet” colas typically contain artificial sweeteners only.
Some consumers prefer the taste of soda manufactured with sugar. As a result of this, there is demand in the United States for imported Mexican Coca-Cola. Kosher for Passover Coca-Cola sold in the U.S. around the Jewish holiday also uses sucrose rather than HFCS and is also highly sought after by people who prefer the original taste. In addition, PepsiCo occasionally markets a version of its Pepsi and Mountain Dew sodas that are sweetened with sugar instead of HFCS. These are marketed under the name Throwback and became permanent products on the lineup.
A 2007 study found that consumption of colas, both those with natural sweetening and those with artificial sweetening, was associated with increased risk of chronic kidney disease. The phosphoric acid used in colas was thought to be a possible cause.
New chemical analyses have found that Coca-Cola, Pepsi-Cola, Diet Coke, and Diet Pepsi contain high levels of 4-methylimidazole (4-MI), a known animal carcinogen. The carcinogen forms when ammonia or ammonia and sulfites are used to manufacture the “caramel coloring” that gives those sodas their distinctive brown colors, according to the Center for Science in the Public Interest, the nonprofit watchdog group that commissioned the tests. CSPI first petitioned the FDA to ban ammonia-sulfite caramel coloring in February 2011. Source: http://www.cspinet.org/new/201203051.html
The “caramel coloring” used in Coca-Cola, Pepsi, and other foods is contaminated with two cancer-causing chemicals and should be banned, according to a regulatory petition filed today by the Center for Science in the Public Interest. Source: http://www.cspinet.org/new/201102161.html
The word cola may have been introduced into mainstream culture by the major producer Coca-Cola, as it saw its trademark slipping into common use, like other genericized trademarks. It successfully defended the exclusive use of its name and its diminutive form “Coke” by suggesting the alternative of “cola drink” as a generic name for similar types of carbonated soft drinks. The word cola as part of the Coca-Cola trademark may have originated from the kola nuts that were originally used as the source of caffeine.
In recent years, “anti-diet colas” have been created as alternatives to the “flavorless” diet colas.