Can of Coca Cola isolated on white background
The Caffeine-Packed Nut That Once Defined The Famous Coca-Cola Taste
The "cola" part of "Coca-Cola" comes from the kola nut, which was once a key ingredient in the famous soda. This caffeinated nut from West Africa has some curious properties.
In West Africa, kola nuts have been used for centuries in ceremonies like weddings. They have an addictive quality, and those who could afford them often chewed them as a habit.
Kola nuts taste bitter, but if you chew one up, you'll find that any food or drink you taste right after seems sweeter. This wasn't the only odd part of the original Coca-Cola.
John Pemberton, inventor of the soda, was inspired by Vin Mariani, a drink of red wine mixed with cocaine. He added kola nuts to this formula to create his own French Wine Coca.
This drink eventually evolved into Coca-Cola. Pemberton nixed the red wine and created Coca-Cola syrup in its place, keeping the coca (cocaine) leaf and kola nut in the recipe.
Both cocaine and kola nuts were later phased out of the soda. Today, Coke only has artificial ingredients to imitate the kola nut, and contains less caffeine due to its absence.