A Brief Pepsi History
Born in the Carolinas in
1898, Pepsi-Cola has a long and rich history. The drink is the
invention of Caleb Bradham (left), a pharmacist and drugstore
owner in New Bern, North Carolina.
published here is provided by PepsiCo, Inc. and may be accessed
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The summer of 1898, as
usual, was hot and humid in New Bern, North Carolina. So a young
pharmacist named Caleb Bradham began experimenting with
combinations of spices, juices, and syrups trying to create a
refreshing new drink to serve his customers. He succeeded beyond
all expectations because he invented the beverage known around
the world as Pepsi-Cola.
Caleb Bradham knew
that to keep people returning to his pharmacy, he would have to
turn it into a gathering place. He did so by concocting his own
special beverage, a soft drink. His creation, a unique mixture
of kola nut extract, vanilla and rareoils, became so popular his
customers named it "Brad's Drink." Caleb decided to rename it
"Pepsi-Cola," and advertised his new soft drink. People
responded, and sales of Pepsi-Cola started to grow, convincing
him that he should form a company to market the new beverage.
In 1902, he launched
the Pepsi-Cola Company in the back room of his pharmacy, and
applied to the U.S. Patent Office for a trademark. At first, he
mixed the syrup himself and sold it exclusively through soda
fountains. But soon Caleb recognized that a greater opportunity
existed to bottle Pepsi so that people could drink it anywhere.
The business began to
grow, and on June 16, 1903, "Pepsi-Cola" was officially
registered with the U.S. Patent Office. That year, Caleb sold
7,968 gallons of syrup, using the theme line "Exhilarating,
Invigorating, Aids Digestion." He also began awarding franchises
to bottle Pepsi to independent investors, whose number grew from
just two in 1905, in the cities of Charlotte and Durham, North
Carolina, to 15 the following year, and 40 by 1907. By the end
of 1910, there were Pepsi-Cola franchises in 24 states.
bottling line resulted from some less-than-sophisticated
engineering in the back room of Caleb's pharmacy. Building a
strong franchise system was one of Caleb's greatest
achievements. Local Pepsi-Cola bottlers, entrepreneurial in
spirit and dedicated to the product's success, provided a sturdy
foundation. They were the cornerstone of the Pepsi-Cola
enterprise. By 1907, the new company was selling more than
100,000 gallons of syrup per year.
Growth was phenomenal,
and in 1909 Caleb erected a headquarters so spectacular that the
town of New Bern pictured it on a postcard. Famous racing car
driver Barney Oldfield endorsed Pepsi in newspaper ads as "A
bully drink...refreshing, invigorating, a fine bracer before a
The previous year,
Pepsi had been one of the first companies in the United States
to switch from horse-drawn transport to motor vehicles, and
Caleb's business expertise captured widespread attention. He was
even mentioned as a possible candidate for Governor. A 1913
editorial in the Greensboro Patriot praised him for his "keen
and energetic business sense."
Pepsi-Cola enjoyed 17
unbroken years of success. Caleb now promoted Pepsi sales with
the slogan, "Drink Pepsi-Cola. It will satisfy you." Then
cameWorld War I, and the cost of doing business increased
drastically. Sugar prices see sawed between record highs and
disastrous lows, and so did the price of producing Pepsi-Cola.
Caleb was forced into a series of business gambles just to
survive, until finally, after three exhausting years, his luck
ran out and he was bankrupted. By 1921, only two plants remained
open. It wasn't until a successful candy manufacturer, Charles
G. Guth, appeared on the scene that the future of Pepsi-Cola was
assured. Guth was president of Loft Incorporated, a large chain
of candy stores and soda fountains along the eastern seaboard.
He saw Pepsi-Cola as an opportunity to discontinue an
unsatisfactory business relationship with the Coca-Cola Company,
and at the same time to add an attractive drawing card to Loft's
soda fountains. He was right. After five owners and 15
unprofitable years, Pepsi-Cola was once again a thriving
One oddity of the
time, for a number of years, all of Pepsi-Cola's sales were
actually administered from a Baltimore building apparently owned
by Coca-Cola, and named for its president. Within two years,
Pepsi would earn $1 million for its new owner. With the
resurgence came new confidence, a rarity in those days because
the nation was in the early stages of a severe economic decline
that came to be known as the Great Depression.
1898 Caleb Bradham, a
New Bern, North Carolina, pharmacist, renames "Brad's Drink," a
carbonated soft drink he created to serve his drugstore's
fountain customers. The new name, Pepsi-Cola, is derived from
two of the principal ingredients, pepsin and kola nuts. It is
first used on August 28.
1902 Bradham applies
to the U.S. Patent Office for a trademark for the Pepsi-Cola
1903 In keeping with
its origin as a pharmacist's concoction, Bradham's advertising
praises his drink as "Exhilarating, invigorating, aids
1905 A new logo
appears, the first change from the original created in 1898.
1906 The logo is
redesigned and a new slogan added: "The original pure food
drink." The trademark is registered in Canada.
1907 The Pepsi
trademark is registered in Mexico.
1909 Automobile racing
pioneer Barney Oldfield becomes Pepsi's first celebrity endorser
when he appears in newspaper ads describing Pepsi-Cola as "A
bully drink...refreshing, invigorating, a fine bracer before a
race." The theme "Delicious and Healthful" appears, and will be
used intermittently over the next two decades.
1920 Pepsi appeals to
consumers with, "Drink Pepsi-Cola. It will satisfy you."
1932 The trademark is
registered in Argentina.
1934 Pepsi begins
selling a 12-ounce bottle for five cents, the same price charged
by its competitors for six ounces.
1938 The trademark is
registered in the Soviet Union.
1939 A newspaper
cartoon strip, "Pepsi & Pete," introduces the theme "Twice as
Much for a Nickel" to increase consumer awareness of Pepsi's
1940 Pepsi makes
advertising history with the first advertising jingle ever
broadcast nationwide. "Nickel, Nickel" will eventually become a
hit record and will be translated into 55 languages. A new, more
modern logo is adopted.
1941 In support of
America's war effort, Pepsi changes the color of its bottle
crowns to red, white and blue. A Pepsi canteen in Times Square,
New York, operates throughout the war, enabling more than a
million families to record messages for armed services personnel
1943 The "Twice as
Much" advertising strategy expands to include the theme, "Bigger
Drink, Better Taste."
1949 "Why take less
when Pepsi's best?" is added to "Twice as Much" advertising.
1950 "More Bounce to
the Ounce" becomes Pepsi's new theme as changing soft drink
economics force Pepsi to raise prices to competitive levels. The
logo is again updated.
1953 Americans become
more weight conscious, and a new strategy based on Pepsi's lower
caloric content is implemented with "The Light Refreshment"
1954 "The Light
Refreshment" evolves to incorporate "Refreshing Without
1958 Pepsi struggles
to enhance its brand image. Sometimes referred to as "the
kitchen cola," as a consequence of its long-time positioning as
a bargain brand, Pepsi now identifies itself with young,
fashionable consumers with the "Be Sociable, Have a Pepsi"
theme. A distinctive "swirl" bottle replaces Pepsi's earlier
1959 Soviet Premier
Nikita Khrushchev and U.S. Vice-President Richard Nixon meet in
the soon-to-be-famous "kitchen debate" at an international trade
fair. The meeting, over Pepsi, is photo-captioned in the U.S. as
"Khrushchev Gets Sociable."
1961 Pepsi further
refines its target audience, recognizing the increasing
importance of the younger, post-war generation. "Now it's Pepsi,
for Those who think Young" defines youth as a state of mind as
much as a chronological age, maintaining the brand's appeal to
all market segments.
1963 In one of the
most significant demographic events in commercial history, the
post-war baby boom emerges as a social and marketplace
phenomenon. Pepsi recognizes the change, and positions Pepsi as
the brand belonging to the new generation-The Pepsi Generation.
"Come alive! You're in the Pepsi Generation" makes advertising
history. It is the first time a product is identified, not so
much by its attributes, as by its consumers' lifestyles and
1964 A new product,
Diet Pepsi, is introduced into Pepsi-Cola advertising.
1966 Diet Pepsi's
first independent campaign, "Girlwatchers," focuses on the
cosmetic benefits of the low-calorie cola. The "Girlwatchers"
musical theme becomes a Top 40 hit. Advertising for another new
product, Mountain Dew, a regional brand acquired in 1964, airs
for the first time, built around the instantly recognizable tag
line, "Ya-Hoo, Mountain Dew!"
1967 When research
indicates that consumers place a premium on Pepsi's superior
taste when chilled, "Taste that beats the others cold. Pepsi
pours it on" emphasizes Pepsi's product superiority. The
campaign, while product-oriented, adheres closely to the
energetic, youthful, lifestyle imagery established in the
initial Pepsi Generation campaign.
1969 "You've got a lot
to live. Pepsi's got a lot to give" marks a shift in Pepsi
Generation advertising strategy. Youth and lifestyle are still
the campaign's driving forces, but with "Live/Give," a new
awareness and a reflection of contemporary events and mood
become integral parts of the advertising's texture.
1973 Pepsi Generation
advertising continues to evolve. "Join the Pepsi People, Feelin'
Free" captures the mood of a nation involved in massive social
and political change. It pictures us the way we are-one people,
but many personalities.
1975 The Pepsi
Challenge, a landmark marketing strategy, convinces millions of
consumers that Pepsi's taste is superior.
1976 "Have a Pepsi
Day" is the Pepsi Generation's upbeat reflection of an improving
national mood. "Puppies," a 30-second snapshot of an encounter
between a very small boy and some even smaller dogs, becomes an
instant commercial classic.
1979 With the end of
the '70s comes the end of a national malaise. Patriotism has
been restored by an exuberant celebration of the U.S.
bicentennial, and Americans are looking to the future with
renewed optimism. "Catch that Pepsi Spirit!" catches the mood
and the Pepsi Generation carries it forward into the '80s.
1982 With all the
evidence showing that Pepsi's taste is superior, the only
question remaining is how to add that message to Pepsi
Generation advertising. The answer? "Pepsi's got your Taste for
Life!," a triumphant celebration of great times and great taste.
1983 The soft drink
market grows more competitive, but for Pepsi drinkers, the
battle is won. The time is right and so is their soft drink.
It's got to be "Pepsi Now!"
1984 A new generation
has emerged-in the United States, around the world and in Pepsi
advertising, too. "Pepsi. The Choice of a New Generation"
announces the change, and the most popular entertainer of the
time, Michael Jackson, stars in the first two commercials of the
new campaign. The two spots quickly become "the most eagerly
awaited advertising of all time."
1985 Lionel Richie
leads a star-studded parade into "New Generation" advertising
followed by pop music icons Tina Turner and Gloria Estefan.
Sports heroes Joe Montana and Dan Marino are part of it, as are
film and television stars Teri Garr and Billy Crystal. Geraldine
Ferraro, the first woman nominated to be vice president of the
U.S., stars in a Diet Pepsi spot. And the irrepressible Michael
J. Fox brings a special talent, style and spirit to a series of
Pepsi and Diet Pepsi commercials, including a classic,
1987 After an absence
of 27 years, Pepsi returns to Times Square, New York, with a
spectacular 850-square foot electronic display billboard
declaring Pepsi to be "America's Choice."
1988 Michael Jackson
returns to "New Generation" advertising to star in a four-part
"episodic" commercial named "Chase." "Chase" airs during the
Grammy Awards program and is immediately hailed by the media as
"the most-watched commercial in advertising history."
1989 "The Choice of a
New Generation" theme expands to categorize Pepsi users as "A
1990 Teen stars Fred
Savage and Kirk Cameron join the "New Generation" campaign, and
football legend Joe Montana returns in a spot challenging other
celebrities to taste test their colas against Pepsi. Music
legend Ray Charles stars in a new Diet Pepsi campaign, "You got
the right one baby."
1991 "You got the
Right one Baby" is modified to "You got the Right one Baby,
Uh-Huh!" The "Uh-Huh Girls" join Ray Charles as back-up singers
and a campaign soon to become the most popular advertising in
America is on its way. Supermodel Cindy Crawford stars in an
award-winning commercial made to introduce Pepsi's updated logo
and package graphics.
1992 Celebrities join
consumers, declaring that they "Gotta Have It." The interim
campaign supplants "Choice of a New Generation" as work proceeds
on new Pepsi advertising for the '90s. Mountain Dew growth
continues, supported by the antics of an outrageous new Dew Crew
whose claim to fame is that, except for the unique great taste
of Dew, they've "Been there, Done that, Tried that."
1993 "Be Young, Have
fun, Drink Pepsi" advertising starring basketball superstar
Shaquille O'Neal is rated as best in U.S.
1994 New advertising
introducing Diet Pepsi's freshness dating initiative features
Pepsi CEO Craig Weatherup explaining the relationship between
freshness and superior taste to consumers.
1995 In a new
campaign, the company declares "Nothing else is a Pepsi" and
takes top honors in the year's national advertising