The Coca-Cola Company produces Coca-Cola, or Coke, a carbonated soft drink. It was created in the late 1800s by John Stith Pemberton in Atlanta, Georgia, and was first marketed as a temperance drink and represented as a patent medication. But did you know that Coca-Cola is actually kosher?
In 1935, a Rabbi was given access to Coca-Cola’s secret ingredients to convince him that the beverage is kosher. They settled on cottonseed-and-coconut-oil-based glycerin that satisfied both sides. The Rabbi gave his approval.
Who is the Coca-Cola Rabbi?
Tobias Geffen was an American Orthodox Rabbi who lived from August 1, 1870, to February 10, 1970. From 1910 through 1970, he was the Rabbi of Congregation Shearith Israel in Atlanta, Georgia. Geffen was best known for his kosher certification of Coca-Cola in 1935.
Geffen resided near The Coca-Cola Company’s headquarters in Atlanta, he received a lot of questions from fellow Rabbis all over the country asking if Coca-Cola was kosher and if it was safe for Jews to consume.
He solicited a list of the beverage’s ingredients. He was given access to the secret Coca-Cola formula, which was incredibly sacred and completely guarded, on the condition that he would not disclose it. They didn’t cite the quantities of each item, which are just as vital as the ingredients themselves. Upon closer inspection, Rabbi Geffen discovered that it contained glycerin, a sweetener made from non-kosher beef tallow.
Despite the fact that it was present in small enough proportions to theoretically met the kosher criteria. He figured that he couldn’t sign off on certification because it was inserted purposely rather than as a necessary byproduct. A similar issue arose concerning the use of Coca-Cola during Passover when Jews were not allowed to ingest goods made from grains.
The chemists at the company discovered that a sweetener cultivated from cane sugar and beet sugar could be employed without altering the flavor of the beverage. Geffen published a responsum in 1935, declaring that Coca-Cola was kosher for year-round consumption since the ingredients were kosher.
With the help of God, I have been able to uncover a pragmatic solution according to which there would be no question nor any doubt concerning the ingredients of Coca-Cola, It is now possible for the most stringent Halachist to enjoy Coca Cola throughout the year and on Passover.Rabbi Tobias Geffen
(Source: Mental Floss)
The Aftermath of Certifying Coca-Cola as Kosher
The result of kosher Coca-Cola and other initiatives to create processed food kosher had an even more substantial impact. Orthodox rabbis understood that they ought to learn chemistry to efficiently monitor modern kosher food manufacturing.
It wasn’t enough to understand 2,000 years of kosher rule. By the late 1950s, chemistry and food processing knowledge became essential to the kosher food certification procedure.
The persistence of kosher chemists has made it attainable for kosher food to have such a broad appeal. Insistence on stringent measures for ingredients and processing means that Muslims can rely upon that kosher-certified food will not contain any ingredients emanating from a pig.
This knowledge has since been incorporated into kosher food certification in various ways. The phenomenal growth in kosher food items can be attributed in large part to these chemists. (Source: Mental Floss)