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Shhh: 10 Make-or-Break Trade Secrets

1. Coca-Cola

It's common knowledge that the world's most famous secret recipe once contained cocaine; what's less known is that Coke still uses a coca leaf extract made by the Stepan Company (SCL), the only company in the U.S. that is allowed to process cocaine. Coca Cola (KO) also admits to using African kola nuts, lime extract and vanilla, and various reports suggest other exotic ingredients, including lemon extract, orange extract, nutmeg and neroli. The true recipe remains a mystery, as Coke decided against patenting it. A risky move, the soft drink behemoth's decision has paid off, protecting its distinctive taste from competitors, who could have made their own version when the patent information was made public, 20 years after its filing. Unfortunately, the decision to avoid a patent didn't protect Coke from two of its own employees who tried to sell the formula to Pepsi. Luckily, they were turned in by Coke's competitor.

(AP Photo/John Bazemore)

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