Coca-Cola was originally one of hundreds of coca-based drinks that claimed medicinal properties and benefits to health; early marketing claimed that Coca-Cola alleviated headaches and acted as a “brain and nerve tonic”. Coca leaves were used in Coca-Cola’s preparation and the small amount of cocaine present in the product gave the drinker a “buzz”. In 1903 Coca-Cola removed cocaine from the formula, substituting caffeine as the stimulating ingredient, while dropping all the product’s medicinal claims. In response to increasing pressure from the United States Food and Drug Administration, which was carrying on a campaign against harmful food ingredients and misleading claims, Coca-Cola replaced unprocessed coca leaves with “spent” coca leaves, which flavored the product without providing any drug effect. It is believed that coca leaves are imported from Peru, then treated by US chemical company Stepan, which then sells the de-cocainized residue to Coca-Cola. The Coca-Cola Company declines to comment upon whether or not Coca-Cola contains spent coca leaves, deferring to the secret nature of the formula. Since 1929, the beverage has contained only trace amounts of cocaine alkaloids, which do not have any drug effect.
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