Caleb Bradham’s soda fountain flavor “Brad’s Drink” became Pepsi-Cola today in 1898. Now WE know em


Caleb Davis Bradham was born May 27, 1867 in Chinquapin, North Carolina.

He graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where he was a member of the Philanthropic Society, before attending the University of Maryland School of Medicine to become a pharmacist.

In 1890, Caleb dropped out of college after his father’s business went bankrupt. After returning to North Carolina, he became a public school teacher for about a year, before opening a drug store in New Bern named the “Bradham Drug Company” that, like many other drug stores of the time, also housed a soda fountain.

Bradham Drug was located on the corner of Middle Street and Pollock Street in downtown New Bern, and is where Caleb developed a new flavor for a soda recipe in 1893.

A "Brad's Drink Party" enjoying Brad's Drink in Caleb's pharmacy in 1896. Image from the North Carolina Museum of History.

A “Brad’s Drink Party” enjoying Brad’s Drink in Caleb’s pharmacy in 1896. Image from the North Carolina Museum of History.

His new “Brad’s Drink” soda flavor included a blend of kola nut extract, vanilla, and “rare oils.

Caleb’s assistant James Henry King was the first to taste the new drink.

Bradham's pharmacy, with a Pepsi dispenser, as portrayed in a New Bern exhibition in the Historical Museum of Bern.

Bradham’s pharmacy, with a Pepsi dispenser, as portrayed in a New Bern exhibition in the Historical Museum of Bern.


Caleb wisely bought the trade name “Pep Cola” for $100 from a competitor in Newark, New Jersey that had gone broke.

Then on August 28, 1898, Caleb renamed his drink “Pepsi-Cola.”

Caleb derived this new name from a combination of the terms “pepsin” and “cola,” as he believed that his drink aided digestion much like the pepsin enzyme does, even though it was not used as an ingredient.

On January 4, 1901, Caleb married Charity Credle in New Bern, North Carolina and would go on to raise three children.

On December 24, 1902, Caleb incorporated the Pepsi-Cola Company with himself as president.

The Pepsi-Cola trademark was registered on June 16, 1903.

Also in 1903, Caleb moved his Pepsi-Cola production out of his drug store and into a rented building nearby.

At first, Caleb mixed his Pepsi syrup himself and sold it exclusively through soda fountains.

That first year, Bradham sold 7,968 gallons of syrup, using the theme line “Exhilarating, Invigorating, Aids Digestion.”

He also expanded his operation by opening a second Drug Store at the corner of Middle and Broad Streets.

Caleb soon recognized that a greater opportunity existed to bottle Pepsi so that people could drink it anywhere.

In 1905, the Pepsi-Cola Company began selling Pepsi in six-ounce bottles (up until this time Caleb had sold Pepsi-Cola only as a syrup).

Caleb then awarded two franchises to existing bottlers, one in Charlotte, and one in Durham, North Carolina.

In 1906, the federal government passed 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.

Pepsi-Cola becomes one of the first companies to modernize delivery from horse drawn carts to motor vehicles in 1908.

By 1910, Pepsi was sold via 250 franchises in 24 states and held its first Pepsi Bottler Convention in New Bern.

Then on May 31, 1923, the Pepsi-Cola Company declared bankruptcy.

The major factor for Pepsi’s business failure was the price of sugar immediately following World War I, when prices went up to 28 cents per pound (it was three cents per pound before the war).

In an effort to sustain his business, Caleb purchased a large amount of sugar at 28 cents believing that sugar prices would continue to rise, but soon after his purchase the price of sugar nosedived, leaving him with an overpriced sugar inventory.

The assets of his company were sold to the Craven Holding Company for $30,000. Soon after, Roy C. Megargel, a Wall Street broker, bought the Pepsi trademark, business and good will from Craven Holding Corporation for $35,000, forming the Pepsi-Cola Corporation we know of today.

After declaring bankruptcy, Caleb Bradham returned to operating his drug stores until he was forced to retire due to a long-term illness.

Caleb Bradham died FEbruary 19, 1934 and is buried in Cedar Grove Cemetery, New Bern.

Now WE know em



Please Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s