# How Many People Know Coke's "Secret Formula"?

Coke has a new ad that declares that only two people know Coke’s secret formula, and if something happened to one of them, the formula would be lost forever. It then goes on to talk, facetiously, about all the terrible things that would happen to the world if something bad happened to one of the two men and the formula was lost forever.

Perhaps I’m just losing my sense of humor, but every time I see the ad I get aggravated.

First, and this is not so important; if two people know the formula, then if something happened to one of them, the formula would not be lost. So what they don’t say, but must

mean, is that there are two people who each know half the formula, and nobody who knows the whole formula.

More fundamentally, there is no way in the world that only two people know Coke’s secret formula. If that were really the case, then the shareholders should be filing suit against management. Are firms allowed to just blatantly lie in their advertising? Not that it matters, but I find it strange that a firm would knowingly say something like this when it is completely untrue.

(As an aside, the question of how much Pepsi would pay to get Coke’s secret formula has a surprising answer.)

Coke isn’t the only company lying these days. I was on an airplane the other day, and printed in capital letters on the headset the airline provided in the seat pocket in front of me were the words “OPERATES ONLY ON AIRCRAFT. PLEASE DO NOT REMOVE.” It’s not hard to figure out that statement is not true. One look at the plug would tell you. Or if you wanted more concrete evidence, you could stick it into an iPod, perhaps even in that critical takeoff and landing period when all electronics must be turned

off, and prove that it works.

They are not the best headphones in the world, but at least sound comes out of both ears (which is more than I can say about the next best pair of headphones in my possession); so until I return them on my next flight, they will just have to do.

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