Hoaxes & Rumors

Classic Hoax: Pouring Coke on Pork Makes Worms Appear

Picture of maggots courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
Classic Hoax: Pouring Coke on Pork Makes Worms Appear
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A longstanding rumor claims that pouring Coke over raw pork will cause worms to emerge from the meat. Is this true or false?

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It’s a Myth

As with many internet rumors, it can be difficult to trace a hoax such as this back to its exact origins. This is especially true of classic rumors such as the Coke + pork resulting in worms, as it has been circulating online for well over a decade. Perhaps more difficult to pinpoint is the motive for concocting such unsubstantiated information, and no single explanation is universally accepted. As other debunking sites have pointed out, it may have origins in religious views of the pig and ancient dogmatic edicts forbidding the consumption of pork. A proper discussion of this topic is well beyond the scope of this article, yet anyone wishing to explore the subject can start here.

The point is that dogmatic and legalistic religious perceptions may have played a part in the motivation for perpetrating a negative hoax regarding pork. However, it should also be pointed that this is only speculation.

Coke and Pork Videos

Although this hoax seems to have originally been disseminated via email prior to the rise of social media, the primary method of transmission in recent years seems to be a succession of videos on YouTube.

For an early discussion of the topic, you can find this 2003 message board, which quotes another source as stating:

Pig’s bodies contain many toxins, worms and latent diseases. Although some of these infestations are harbored in other animals, modern veterinarians say that pigs are far more predisposed to these illnesses than other animals. This could be because pigs like to scavenge and will eat any kind of food, including dead insects, worms, rotting carcasses, excreta (including their own), garbage, and other pigs.

If you pour Coke (yes, the soda) on a slab of pork, and wait a little while, you will see worms crawl out of it.

There are currently several pages of pork and coke videos posted on the site. Some of these videos are so popular (one has over 8 million hits) that a series of spoof “coke on pork” videos have also been created. In preparation for writing this article, over 30 of these videos were viewed. Spoofs aside, most of these of these videos feature ordinary people testing out the myth to see if it is true. Nearly all of them concluded that it was a hoax after several hours of observing raw pork soaked in Coke.

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Only a couple of videos claim to have found worms in raw pork after soaking in Coke, and it is suspected that these videos were either hoaxes or merely misinterpretations. Consider the following:

  • Videos claiming that worms have been found in Coke soaked pork are of poor quality, and the worms can not be clearly seen.
  • Viewers of these videos do not really know how long the pork sat unrefrigerated in the package or how long the pork sat soaking in the Coke. It could have been days for all we know. Any form of raw meat left unrefrigerated for a long period of time can eventually develop maggots.
  • Perhaps what is perceived as worms or maggots is actually something else. It has been suggested that these are proteins from the pork which have congealed due to carbonation or amino acids brought out by the acids in the Coke.

Trichinellosis / Trichinosis & Uncooked Meat

It is true that raw meat can contain larvae or worms that can cause people who ingest raw or under-cooked meat to become ill. The species of worm responsible for this is known as trichenella and the illness is called trichinellosis or trichinosis. Nevertheless, trichinosis is extremely rare in the United States and the problem can be completely avoided by making sure that any meats ingested are fully cooked. According to a page devoted to trichinosis from the Center of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), from 2008-2010 there were an average of only 20 annually reported cases of trichinellosis in the United States. The CDC page offers a number of cooking tips with the intent of preventing trichinellosis.

Another CDC webpage directed towards trichinellosis and hunters states that trichenella is a microscopic parasite, and therefore would not be able to be seen by the naked eye.

Bottom Line

Pouring Coke on raw pork does not cause worms or maggots to emerge from the meat. This is an urban legend which has circulated online for over a decade. The origins and motivation for the hoax are not currently known. Many people have debunked the myth on YouTube, yet videos claiming the contrary also continue to circulate. Some raw meat can be infested with larvae and worms of the trichenella species, but these creatures are microscopic and cannot be viewed without the aid of a microscope. Fully cooking meat assures that any larvae or worms contained within will be rendered harmless to humans.

Updated January 5, 2016
Originally published November 2014

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