Little Bits of History

August 28

Posted in History by patriciahysell on August 28, 2017

1898: Caleb Bradham renames Brad’s Drink. He was born in 1867 in Cinquapin, North Carolina and graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He was a member of the Philanthropic Society, their oldest student organization given to debating. He then enrolled at the University of Maryland School of Medicine but had to drop out after his father’s business went bankrupt. Bradham taught for a year before opening up his own drug store and as was the custom of the time, it had a soda fountain. In 1893, he invented his own concoction to serve, a mixture of kola nut, vanilla, and “rare oils” were served from his shop. On this day, he renamed his product Pepsi-Cola.

Even though no pepsin was included in the recipe, the drink did seem to aid in digestion, something pepsin was used for. Bradham selected Pepsi as a nod to that benefit and Cola from the kola nut actually included. James Henry King, his assistant, was the first to taste the new drink. The Pepsi-Cola Company was incorporated in North Carolina on Christmas Eve in 1902. Bradham was the president; the first trademark wasn’t registered until June 16, 1903. Also, during that year, production of the beverage moved out of the shop and into a rented nearby building. All that was made was the syrup but in 1905, that changed and the drink was packaged in six ounce bottles for the first time.

Not busy enough with running his store and his new company, Bradham was also the president of the People’s Bank of New Bern and chairman of the Craven County Board of Commissioners. He was an officer in the naval reserves and retired after 25 years as a rear admiral. At the peak of its success, the Pepsi-Cola Company had franchises in 24 states. On May 31, 1923, Bradham and Pepsi-Cola Company declared bankruptcy, secondary to the escalating price of sugar after the end of World War I. (Before the war sugar was three cents a pound and after, it was 28 cents.) The assets of the company were sold to Craven Holding company for $35,000 or about $500,000 today. The company changed hands a few times until Charles Guth of Loft, Inc. purchased it.

Between 1922 and 1933, Coca-Cola Company was offered the chance to purchase Pepsi three times and declined on each occasion. Today, Pepsi is manufactured by PepsiCo which is now headquartered in Purchase, New York. Pepsi remains their best selling product but is only one in an extremely long list of subsidiaries and products. PepsiCo’s revenues for 2016 were $62.8 billion with a net income of $6.3 billion. They have about 264,000 employees. Even so, Coke outsells Pepsi by about $2 billion per year. Coke has 17% market share in the US with 9.4% going to second place Diet Coke. Pepsi comes in third with 8.9% share. In blind taste tests, Pepsi wins, but regardless of this fact, Coke sells more bottles/cans.

There’s not a man, woman or child on the face of the earth who doesn’t enjoy a tasty beverage. – David Letterman

Why does man kill? He kills for food. And not only food: frequently there must be a beverage. – Woody Allen

A few decades ago, many people didn’t drink water outside of a meal. Then beverage companies started bottling the production of far-off springs, and now office workers unthinkingly sip bottled water all day long. – Charles Duhigg

Pepsi is the second-most-recognized beverage brand in the world after Coke, and eighteen of PepsiCo’s other brands, which include Tropicana, Gatorade, and Quaker Oats, are billion-dollar businesses in their own right. – John Seabrook



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