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The History of Pepsi Cola

A six-pack of Pepsi, 1960s. Tom Kelley Archive / Getty Images

Caleb Davis Bradham was born in Chinquapin, North

Carolina, on May 27, 1867. After graduating from the
University of North Carolina, Bradham attended the
University of Maryland School of Medicine in hopes of
becoming a doctor. While attending school he worked part-
time as a pharmacy apprentice at a local drug store.

Unfortunately a family crisis forced Bradham to drop his pursuit in

medicine and return home to North Carolina. Upon returning, he taught
school for a short period of time before opening a drug store on the
corner of Middle and Pollock Streets in downtown New Bern.
Bradham's Drug Store would later become the very place Pepsi-Cola
was invented. In 1893, Brads Drink, made from a mix of sugar, water,
caramel, lemon oil, nutmeg, and other natural additives, became an
overnight sensation. Despite its name and hearsay, pepsin was never
an ingredient of Pepsi-Cola.
On August 28, 1898, Bradham renamed his drink Pepsi-
Cola." He believed the drink was more than a refreshment
but a healthy cola, aiding in digestion, getting its roots
from the word dyspepsia, meaning indigestion.

In late 1902, the Pepsi-Cola Company was formed due to

the rising popularity and demand for the Pepsi-Cola Syrup
with none other than Caleb Bradham as the first president.
The business began to grow, and on June 16, 1903,
"Pepsi-Cola" became an official trademark. By 1904, the
Pepsi-Cola Syrup sales reached almost 20,000 gallons. As
demand for the drink continued to rise, Bradham decided it
was time to offer Pepsi-Cola in bottles. By 1910 there were
240 franchises in 24 states and that year the Pepsi-Cola
Company held their first Bottler Convention in New Bern.

Hard times fell on Bradham and the Pepsi-Cola franchise

during WWI. This was due to the high price and severe
rationing of sugar. This rationing prevented Pepsi-Cola
from producing enough syrup to meet the demands of
consumers. Though Bradham attempted multiple
substitutes for sugar, like molasses, the outcome was
always an inferior taste to the original. After the war ended
sugar prices soared from 3 cents to 28 cents per pound.
Bradham purchased a large quantity of the high priced
sugar, which would be a factor to the company's downfall.
Pepsi Cola officially was bankrupt as of May 31,1923, and
its assets were sold to Craven Holding Corporation for

After years of ups and downs, PepsiCo is now back on top.

In 2013, Pepsi was ranked #1 on CoreBrand's list of Most
Respected Companies. The company was also ranked #41
on the Fortune 500 list, in 2012.

For a more detailed story of Pepsi-Cola, purchase our fact

filled book
"How Pepsi Got Its Name" in our online shop.

1898 - One of Caleb's formulations, known as "Brad's
Drink," a combination of carbonated water, sugar, vanilla,
rare oils and cola nuts, is renamed "Pepsi-Cola" on August
28, 1898. Pepsi-Cola receives its first logo.

1902 - The instant popularity of this new drink leads

Bradham to devote all of his energy to developing Pepsi-
Cola into a full-fledged business. He applies for a
trademark with the U.S. Patent Office, Washington D.C.,
and forms the first Pepsi-Cola Company.

The first Pepsi-Cola newspaper advertisements appeared

in the New Bern Weekly Journal.

1903 - "Doc" Bradham moves the bottling of Pepsi-Cola

from his drugstore into a rented warehouse; he sells 7,968
gallons of syrup in the first year of operation.

Pepsi's theme line is "Exhilarating, Invigorating, Aids


1904 - Bradham purchases a building in New Bern known

as the "Bishop Factory" for $5,000 and moves all bottling
and syrup operations to this location. Pepsi is sold in six-
ounce bottles. Sales increase to 19,848 gallons.

1905 - Pepsi-Cola's first bottling franchises are established

in Charlotte and Durham, North Carolina.

Pepsi receives its new logo, its first change since 1898.

1906 - Pepsi gets another logo change, the third in eight

years. The modified script logo is created with the slogan,
"The Original Pure Food Drink."

There are 15 U.S. Pepsi bottling plants. The Pepsi

trademark is registered in Canada. Syrup sales rise to
38,605 gallons.

The federal government passes the Pure Food and Drug

Act, banning substances such as arsenic, lead, barium,
and uranium, from food and beverages. This forced many
soft drink manufacturers, including Coca-Cola, to change
their formulas. Pepsi-Cola, being free of any such
impurities, claimed they already met federal requirements.

1907 - Pepsi-Cola Company continues to expand; the

company's bottling network grows to 40 franchises. Pepsi-
Cola sells more than 100,000 gallons of syrup.

Pepsi trademark is registered in Mexico. Syrup sales rise

to 104,026 gallons.

1908 - Pepsi-Cola becomes one of the first companies to

modernize delivery from horse drawn carts to motor
vehicles. Two hundred fifty bottlers in 24 states are under
contract to make and sell Pepsi-Cola.

1909 - Automobile race pioneer Barney Oldfield endorses

Pepsi-Cola in newspaper ads as "A bully drink...refreshing,
invigorating, a fine bracer before a race."

1910 - The first Pepsi-Cola bottlers' convention is held in

New Bern, North Carolina.

1920 - Pepsi theme line speaks to the consumer with

"Drink Pepsi-Cola, it will satisfy you."

1923 - Pepsi files for bankrupcy


After seventeen years of success, Caleb Bradham lost Pepsi Cola. He had gambled on the
fluctuations of sugar prices during World War I, believing that sugar prices would
continue to rise -- but they fell instead, leaving Caleb Bradham with an overpriced sugar

Pepsi Cola went bankrupt in 1923.

In 1931, Pepsi Cola was bought by the Loft Candy Company Loft president, Charles G.
Guth, who reformulated the popular soft drink, tinkering with the recipe. Guth struggled
to make a success of Pepsi and even offered to sell Pepsi to the Coca-Cola company, who
refused to offer a bid.

The company soldiered on, increasing sales steadily by selling its 12-ounce bottles for
nickela penny less than most of its competitors. Expansion continued in the 30s with
the company setting up bottling franchises across the country.

In 1964 the company unveiled Diet Pepsi and acquired Mountain Dew, a citrus-
flavored soft drink. One year later, the company merged with Frito-Lay company,
becoming PepsiCo.

Throughout the next few decades, the drink continued to flourish, expanding its
presence around the globe and battling soda industry leader Coca-Cola for market share
with aggressive marketing campaigns and promotion, including its famous Pepsi
Generation and "Pepsi Challenge" ad campaigns.

In 2015, the company announced it would discontinue using aspartame as the sweetener
in Diet Pepsi, and replaced it with sucralose, another artificial sweetener. The move was
pitched as addressing customer concerns about the health risks of aspartame.