It looks as if Coca-Cola may be acquiring its recognizable flavor from the same plant used to make cocaine, according to reports. 

While the topic has floated around for years, a chemical processing factory in Maywood, New Jersey, actually imports coca leaves to create the iconic soft drink. The Stepan Company, a chemical manufacturer, currently manages the factory, which has been importing coca leaves for over a century.
The factory reportedly had a license to import the plant renewed in January 2023 by the Drug Enforcement Agency. It was noted the Stepan Company is the only company in the United States permitted to import coca leaves and manufacture cocaine under a special license. 

According to Daily Mail, the exclusive license allows the leaves to be used to create a “decocainized” ingredient for Coca-Cola. The “decocainized” product is then sold to the nation’s largest opioid manufacturer, which markets the product as a topical anesthetic and numbing agent used by dentists. 

Previously in the 1980s, it was reported that 500 metric tons of coca leaves could be taken into the plant in one year. That amount taken could produce up to 2 million grams of cocaine, valued at almost $2 billion.