Bill Hand – Dec. 24 is birthday of Pepsi-Cola

That’s right: the birthday of the incorporation of Pepsi-Cola.

Pharmacist Caleb Bradham achieved this on Dec. 24, 1902, right here in New Bern. I could get all fanatical and say it was Caleb Bradham’s Christmas gift to the world but I am one of those heretics who prefer Coke, so I won’t.

I have a sister who is a Pepsi fanatic, though. Back when the city had its Pepsi 100th Anniversary celebration, she drove all the way from St. Petersburg, Florida, to help celebrate. I spent a couple of days recently slopping around the Everglades with her, swinging our cameras at anything that had feathers, and she wore one of those “Friends Don’t Let Friends Drink Coke” T-shirts.

That’s fine with me. I’m all for being New Bern-patriotic. Still, I freely chugged Cokes as we drove along.

And I don’t even like Atlanta.There’s another big birthday to celebrate this week

Bradham was born in Chinquapin, a town some miles west of Jacksonville, in 1867. He aimed for a medical career but a family crisis pulled him out of school and he wound up settling here in New Bern as a pharmacist. His first shop was at the same spot where the Birthplace of Pepsi Store stands today at the intersection of Middle and Pollock streets. Not the same building, mind you, as the original building burned down in a fire many moons ago.

According to the Pepsi Store site, he invented his concoction, “made from a mix of sugar, water, caramel, lemon oil, nutmeg and other natural additives” in 1893. He named it Brad’s Drink. He was just 26. Five years later, he renamed it “Pepsi-Cola.”

There are all kinds of theories as to why it had this name. The most popular I’ve heard was the one cited in Wikipedia, that it was “named after the digestive enzyme pepsin and kola nuts used in the recipe.”

A woman once pointed out to me that “Pepsi Cola” is an anagram of “Episcopal,” and there, she added, right across the street from the pharmacy stood Christ Church, of that very Episcopal faith. I have my doubts on this one, but it’s interesting.

The Pepsi Store turns up its nose at either of these suggestions. “Despite its name and hearsay,” its site proclaims, “pepsin was never an ingredient of Pepsi-Cola… He believed the drink… aid(ed) in digestion, getting its roots form the word dyspepsia, meaning indigestion.”

I got dyspepsia, myself, just trying to follow all that. Or maybe dyscokesia. Who to believe? I want to believe the Pepsi Store got it right but come on, Wikipedia! If we suggest Wikipedia is ever wrong, term paper writers across the country will go into meltdown.

Bradham hired out his neighbor, photographer Bayard Wootten, to design his original logo. He trademarked that half a year after his incorporation, in 1904. He bought the Bishop Factory for a scant $5,000 where he had his invention bottled. It was located catty-corner across from the Masonic Temple, but you can’t see it today because it burned down.

How his original house is still standing I will never know.

In 1909, Bradham added a little history to his name when he landed one of the first known celebrity endorsements from race car driver Barney Oldfield.

Though Pepsi is a brand obviously alive and well today, a misstep in judging sugar prices caused Bradham to file for bankruptcy in 1923, according to the Pepsi Store, or in 1931, if you believe Wikipedia. Some guy named Roy C. Megargel bought it and we don’t care about him.

He was a failure by the way, possibly because he had a name that sounded so much like gargling, and who wants to buy a soda to gargle with? Charles Guth bought it next and, having a more reasonable name, he made a success of it all.

So, on Christmas Eve, just in honor of our greatest product until “The Notebook,” I want you to do a few things.

First, take a cake and a birthday card to the Pepsi Store. Then fill some Pepsi bottles with wax and a wick, and burn them in your windows.

If you’re a wise man at one of those live manger scenes, just for that day use a Pepsi bottle and write “The Real Frankincense” on it with a Sharpie.

Spend some time contemplating why Caleb Bradham looks so much like Walt Disney. Is someone missing a marketing opportunity with this?

And do not, under any circumstances, let a friend drink Coke.

But do pop one open on your own. What’s life without rebellion, after all?

Source Article from
Bill Hand – Dec. 24 is birthday of Pepsi-Cola
pharmacist – Yahoo News Search Results
pharmacist – Yahoo News Search Results


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