History for the Rest of Us

Pepsi-Cola Invented

Pepsi-Cola Invented

Aug 28, 2012

On August 28, 1898, Caleb Davis Bradham (a drug store owner in New Bern, North Carolina) invented a recipe which he initially called ‘Brad’s Drink’. The drink was a blend of carbonated water, sugar, kola nut extract, vanilla, and ‘rare oils’. Bradham believed his beverage aided digestion like pepsin enzyme does, and so he integrated the name of the digestion aid ‘pepsin’ with the ingredient ‘kola’ to come up with the new name for his drink. In 1902 the Pepsi-Cola Company was incorporated, and on June 16th of the following year, the Pepsi-Cola trademark was registered.

Growth of Pepsi-Cola
Originally, Pepsi-Cola was sold only in syrup form, but in 1905 Bradham awarded franchises to North Carolina bottlers and began selling six-ounce bottles. The Pepsi-Cola Company continued to be extremely successfully and by 1910 Bradham had sold franchises to over 300 bottlers in 24 states.

Pepsi-Cola Founder Caleb Bradham

Pepsi-Cola Founder Caleb Bradham


Impact of World War I
World War I took its toll on Bradham’s business when sugar rationing prevented him from meeting the high demand and forced him to use sugar substitutes which led to dissatisfied customers. When the War ended, he took a gamble when he purchased a large amount of sugar at peak postwar prices of 28 cents per pound. Bradham felt the prices would continue to rise, but prices plummeted and Bradham, saddled with a large overpriced sugar inventory, was forced to declare bankruptcy. The assets of the Pepsi-Cola Company were sold to the Craven Holding Company for $35,000. Bradham returned to operating the Bradham Drug Company in New Bern.

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