Mind Candy

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The best kept secrets in the world? Maybe just the best kept corporate secrets

Posted by mandyf on September 29, 2011

There is a saying that a secret can only be truly kept between two people if one of them is dead. In most cases that seems pretty close to true. Government and corporate secrets leak out all the time as do personal secrets. There are however some secrets that remain guarded so tightly that only two people ever seem to know what they are at any one time. In some cases extreme steps costing tens of millions of dollars are even taken to protect them. Let’s get on with seeing what some of the best kept secrets are.

photo by Christian GidlöfEveryone wonders what the secret formula is that makes Coca-Cola so good. You can get the basics off the can or label, but there is more to it than that. It is known that no other company in the U.S. could duplicate the formula at this time – legally at least – because in some way shape or form the coca plant is used in the process, but the specifics are a total mystery. How do we know this? We know that because the Coca-Cola company is the only corporate entity allowed to legally import the plant that is not for pharmaceutical purposes.

Coke has gone to such extremes to protect the formula that when India demanded they turn it over as is required under their law, they closed their plants and left the country according to Newsweek. Only two executives even know the formula or the pinpointed location of it. It’s no secret that the formula is held in a safety deposit box in the Sun Trust Bank in Atlanta, Georgia, but which one? What is the safety deposit box number? How often is it moved? If that wasn’t enough, to help maintain an even tighter grip on the secret, Coke effectively purchased a part of the bank with 48.3 million shares of stock so they could basically swap seats placing members of each entity on the others board of directors.

What about Kentucky Fried Chicken’s 11 herbs and spices? It’s almost the same thing as Coke – only two executives know what they are. As Bo Deitl, a noted expert on security hired to protect the recipe in 2008 as reported by the AP, described the system, there are some serious measures in place to thwart any theft attempts.

*The ceiling and floors have 2 feet of fortified concrete bricks.
* The room the recipe is held in is on 24/7 CCTV Monitoring
* Armed guards are on premises and always within less than 30 seconds of the room
* Two people with two different keys and two different electronic PIN’s are needed to open the room’s door.
* The safe is bolted down to an undisclosed number of anchor points.

The question is then, how do they make the batter for the chicken without the recipe? Even though it is shipped to each location, it has to be made somewhere and someone has to know, right? Wrong! They mix the better in multiple locations, each portion is then sent to another central location to be combined and shipped out again. It may be pretty excessive, but they believe it’s all worth it.

photo by Tage OlsinBaseball fans know that a new baseball is slippery and trying to control one is a royal pain in the rear. Because of that umpires rub mud on the game balls before teams take the field so that players can get a better grip. The thing is, not just any mud will do, the specific mud that must be used is Lena Blackburne’s Baseball Rubbing Mud. Both leagues use this mud exclusively, and without it they would be a little lost to say the least.

Each year, they collect about 500 pounds of the magic mud to be placed in barrels and shipped to each MLB team. Each team will run through the better part of a barrel each year so the demand is steady. Best of all is that the mud can only be found in one specific tributary of the Delaware River somewhere near New Jersey. Collecting the mud is back breaking work and the location is passed down generation to generation – but to just two people – usually the second person only learns the secret when the first dies.

The real kicker is – and get this – they go through all of this to sell each barrel for the whopping cost of $24 each due to a long term contract signed when that was still a good payday -even for just one barrel. For whatever reason, the family never asked for more and MLB never offered more to keep up with inflation. It is however rumored though that the family gets a few invites a year to games for free. A fair trade?  So even with the extras that are sold to cover special events and so that the league has a few spare barrels just in case something unforeseen happens, the entire enterprise grosses under $1,000 annually.

Most everyone has heard the Carly Simon song “You’re So Vain”, but nobody knows who it is really about aside from Carly, maybe the person it is about, and NBC president Dick Ebersol who bought the subject’s identity for $50,000 at a charity auction. Even though Ebersol knows he had to sign an agreement that he wouldn’t tell anyone who it is. He was allowed to provide a clue however – the person the song is about has the letter “E” in their name. Whether that is first, last, middle, or a nickname is anyone’s guess.

Sea Monkey!!!!

There are a few secrets that aren’t quite so tightly guarded but are still known by very few people like how the Farmer’s Almanac weather forecasts are more accurate than any technology can produce or the design of Gillette razors. Even the secret of  how Sea Monkeys work is a huge secret not to mention the secret Krispy Kreme formula – they are just known to a handful of people – or so the rumors say.













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