Is Coke and Coca-Cola Different?

  • By: Max S.
  • Date: December 22, 2022
  • Time to read: 4 min.

Are you one of those people who casually refer to all soda as “coke,” even if it’s not actually a Coca-Cola brand? Or maybe you’re a stickler for proper terminology and only use “Coca-Cola” to refer to the iconic soft drink. 

Either way, you might be wondering: are “coke” and “Coca-Cola” actually different? And if so, what’s the deal with the name? 

In this article, we’ll dive into the history of the beloved beverage and answer some burning questions, like: why did Coke cost a nickel for 70 years? Did Coca-Cola ever actually contain cocaine? And what was the drink originally called? Buckle up and grab a cold one because things are about to get fizzy.

Which is Correct: Coke or Coca-Cola?

diet coke

If you like soda, you’ve probably engaged in a discussion about whether to call it “Coke” or “Coca-Cola.” at some point. Which is correct, then? It all depends on who you ask.

Let’s begin with the company’s legal name: Coca-Cola. This name refers to the soda’s two major components, kola nuts and coca leaves. While the drink had a completely different name initially, it later evolved to what is now known as “Coca-Cola.” Therefore, you should name it Coca-Cola if you want to be extremely exact.

But there’s a solid reason why so many people just refer to it as Coke. One reason is that Coca-Cola is harder to pronounce and remember than Coke. It’s not surprising that Coke is the name people use the most often since it’s the company’s most well-known beverage.

But here’s where it gets interesting: Since Coke is a registered trademark of the Coca-Cola Company, the name Coke can technically only be used by the organization. You should therefore refer to it as “Coca-Cola Coke” or just “Coca-Cola.” if you’re a soda aficionado who wants to be extremely correct.

However, let’s be honest: nobody will actually do that. Calling it Coke is quite acceptable for most people and is also the name that is used the most frequently. So feel free to call it Coke if you want to blend in with the crowd. Just be aware that Coca-Cola is the correct name technically.

french wine coca

What was Coke Originally Called?

The history of the well-known drink is lengthy and fascinating. Did you know that the drink’s original name wasn’t Coke? In actuality, it was originally known by an entirely another name.

A syrup was created in 1886 by a pharmacist by the name of John Pemberton, who combined it with carbonated water to make a pleasant beverage. This new product was given the name “Pemberton’s French Wine Coca.” Yes, you read that right – wine was an ingredient in the first Coke!

Pemberton’s drink was popular, but it had a serious flaw: alcohol, which at the time was prohibited in many sections of the country. Pemberton then devised a fresh recipe devoid of alcohol and gave it the name “Coca-Cola.”

The beverage was frequently referred to as “Coke” in the early years of the corporation. As a result of this nickname sticking, “Coca-Cola” gradually started to be abbreviated to “Coke”

Why Coke Cost a Nickel for 70 Years?

1905 coke sign

Coke used to cost just a nickel for over 70 years. Can you believe it? That’s right, from 1886 all the way until 1959, you could enjoy a refreshing Coke for just a fraction of what it costs today.

But why did the price stay the same for so long? It’s a combination of a few factors. For one, the nickel price was seen as a great deal and a selling point for the drink. Plus, the cost of ingredients remained relatively stable, so the company didn’t feel the need to raise prices. Also in a protest to two lawyers bottling this fountain soda beverage and trying to capitalize on the beloved product.

Another reason is that the Coke company was able to maintain its low prices thanks to its innovative marketing strategies. In the 1900s, the company introduced the iconic “bottle shape” we still see today, making it easier and more convenient for people to enjoy Coke on the go. The company also heavily marketed the “nickel Coke” slogan, solidifying the price in people’s minds.

Did Coca-Cola Ever Contain Cocaine?

It is true! Coca leaves, which naturally contain the stimulant cocaine, were a component in Pemberton’s recipe. The famous soda that we know and love today was made by combining the coca leaves with sugar and other components to make a syrup, which was then combined with carbonated water.

Coke was promoted at the time as a “brain tonic” and a “temperance drink” that could treat illnesses including migraines and other maladies. Some even held the view that Coca-Cola could aid in the treatment of drug and alcohol addiction.

Coca-Cola, however, opted to eliminate cocaine from its recipe when the drug’s harmful effects came to light. Cocaine was no longer an ingredient in Coke by 1903.

Coke is now created using a closely kept proprietary recipe that combines a variety of natural tastes, such as cinnamon and vanilla. Although the cocaine is extracted during the coca leaf extraction process, the coca leaves are still used to make Coke.

coca cola zero


Both “coke” and “Coca-Cola” are the correct names for the famous soft drink. While it is officially called “Coca-Cola,” many people shortened it to “coke” and the name stuck. 

The drink was famously sold for a nickel for 70 years thanks to a savvy marketing campaign. And, while it may be hard to believe, Coca-Cola did once contain a small amount of cocaine. However, cocaine was removed from the recipe over 100 years ago. So, whether you call it coke or Coca-Cola, you can enjoy the delicious beverage without worrying about any illegal ingredients.