Rustam Ninel was born to a family of peasants in 1920, a turbulent time in the history of his home nation of Russia. Despite his humble upbringing he excelled in his classes and attained a degree in chemistry, on track to be the one of many engineers employed by the military.
With the advent of WWII and the purges that closely preceded it however, Ninel found his life derailed and was drafted into the Russian army and shipped to Stalingrad, the deadliest point of the entire Eastern front. He survived his time there, sustaining an injury to his leg that give him a permanent limp. Shortly after his time in Stalingrad, Ninel shifted focus in his engineering work from the explosives and industrial chemicals the Soviet government was in demand of to strange and novel flavors which he chemically designed and produced in his spare time.
He produced a long series of synthetic flavors, Cherry, Grape, Orange and more, all cheaper to produce and more realistic than the currently produced versions. His magnum opus however was a formula for a soda, based on the US drink Coca-Cola, which of course, living in the USSR he had tasted only once. The formula was devised and produced in a little under a year, producing a Soda that most considered better than the real thing.
In 1971, when Ninel was 51 years old and still living alone, he was sent abroad to East Germany in order to teach and train Industrial Chemistry specialists. He took this opportunity to defect, making his way to West Germany in 1972 and eventually immigrating to the United States in 1984 where he settled in the Suburbs of Baltimore working as an engineer for a local sugar processing company.
In 1985, New Coke was released and Ninel was shocked to find the product unmistakably identical to his own formulation which he had produced years ago in Russia. He wrote several letters to the Coca-Cola company who denied any knowledge of him and his work, stating that they had purchased the patent for the basic formula from a company in Panama after finding it produced as a local alternative to Coca-Cola. Ninel was confounded by this, but his protest was drowned out by the extremely negative reaction to New Coke which led to a quick return of Coke Classic and a gradual fade-out of New Coke entirely.
The path that the formula took can be uncovered through an extensive paper trail. Firstly, after Ninel left his notes in the USSR, they were seized by the KGB. From there they were apparently juged to have some promise and sent to Poland for research. This research project was eventually called off due to political upheaval, but a Panama sub-contractor who had advised the Polish researches on how to properly synthesize the trickier compounds were left with a paper version of the formula. They patented and began to produce the formula locally, but failed to find large commercial success despite the high quality of the product. From here, Coca-Cola bought the formula, finally producing New Coke. Ninen filed a lawsuit against the Coca-Cola company for unauthorized use of his formula in 1990
By 2005 after 15 years in court, at the ripe old age of 85, the Coca-Cola company finally became tired of sorting through the complex legal proceedings, and with the new evidence from the Soviet archive proving damning, Coca-Cola eventually settled out of court for 2 million dollars. He died 6 years later, donating his remaining fortune to a variety of charities.
Despite being near totally unrecognized in everything from the scientific literature to the patent record, the many chemical flavorings of Rustam Ninel have made their way into nearly every quintessentially American snack food imaginable. Fanta, both Orange and Grape is flavored by chemicals originally discovered (though unaccredited) by Ninel. The modern formula for the Twinkie contains a baked flavoring agent also created by Ninel. Despite little recognition in life, he has made his impact on the country he loved, though it was not the one he was born in.