The recipe to Coca-Cola was created by John Pemberton, a medicinal pharmacist in 1886. The original recipe is said to be guarded 24-hours a day in a vault in Atlanta, Georgia. Even though the recipe is under lock and key, the sugars used in Coca-Cola are well known. Depending on the type of Coca-Cola, the sugars used in the recipes differ.

High Fructose Corn Syrup

If you look at the back of a Coca-Cola Classic can, one of the first ingredients is high fructose corn syrup, which is a type of sugar. High fructose corn syrup is a combination of corn syrups that have gone through enzymatic processing, converting a portion of glucose into fructose. It is a common ingredient in food in the United States, and is described in a variety of ways on FDA labels. Varieties of high-fructose corn syrup are HFCS 55, HFCS 42, and HFCS-90.


If you drink Coca-Cola a lot, you may have noticed some sold in green bottles or Classic Coke marked “kosher for Passover.” These versions of Coca-Cola are made with real natural sugar, or sucrose, instead of high-fructose corn syrup. This version of Coca-Cola is also called, “Mexican Coke” because the distribution center is located in Mexico.


Diet Coke, also known as Coca-Cola Light, is a sugar-free soft drink. The sweet taste of Diet Coke comes from aspartame, which was originally blended with saccharin. Aspartame is also known as NutraSweet or Equal. Aspartame is man-made from methyl ester of the aspartic acid/phenylalanine dipeptide.

There has been some controversy over the use of aspartame in food. Some claim it is unhealthy for you and can cause health risks such as brain tumors, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, chronic fatigue syndrome, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s, mental retardation, lymphoma, birth defects, fibromyalgia, and diabetes. This has not been verified.

How Much Sugar is in a Can of Coke?

There are 40.5 grams of sugar in a 12 oz. can of Coke. This is equivalent to 20 sugar cubes or 10 teaspoons of sugar. All the calories in Coca-Cola are from sugar. One can of Coke is equal to 140 calories.