All this fuss over food of course, comes down to money. What separates a company from its competitors? What's the value of a brand? The answer could be mega-millions. Companies have stopped at precious little to protect their secrets. Coca-Cola, for example, chose not to patent its recipe because patent information becomes public 20 years after filing. The formula is said to be stowed in an Atlanta bank vault.
Then there's the Colonel. Kentucky Fried Chicken, KFC if you will, still allegedly uses his original, hand-written list of 11 herbs and spices. When the company updated its headquarters two years ago, reporters got a rare peek. Reportedly, the ingredient list is kept in a computerized vault with two separate locks, alongside vials of the 11 seasonings, and only two executives have access to the full recipe.
The distinctive Dr. Pepper taste remains unique 125 years later. Only three people know the 23 flavors that make up the soft drink. "We keep the Dr. Pepper recipe secure in a vault in the state-of-the art Beverage Innovation Center. The room is under 24-hour video surveillance and only one person in the world has access to this room," says Jason Genthner, a company spokesperson. "The recipe has been a mystery for more than a century as fans and competitors have unsuccessfully attempted to identify individual tastes."
Al Yeganeh, The Original SoupMan, also known as the Soup Nazi on Seinfeld, who has since launched The Original SoupMan restaurants and his own line of premium, gourmet, "heat-n-serve" soups, will not divulge any information on his soups. He does say this though: "They are the best in the world."
He keeps his secrets secret by never saying how much of a specific item is included in the mixture, therefore keeping competitors at bay when it comes to copying the recipe. He is limited in disclosing or even releasing recipes and when he does, there will only be a general list of ingredients provided.
Kathy Casey, one the first female executive chefs and owner of Kathy Casey Food Studios-Liquid Kitchen, works with many household name food companies. She describes the industry's culture of secrecy.
"Everybody is protective, especially if it's something new or innovative. Projects have code names. When something is in development any notes you take must be shredded. Everything is locked up. Computers are password protected. There are confidentiality agreements. Some companies don't even want it known that we are working with them."