History Pepsi Cola

Caleb Davis Bradham (1867-1934) grew up in North Carolina and became a pharmacist after graduating from the School of Pharmacy at The University of Maryland. Originally, he went to college at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill to become a medical doctor however his father’s bankruptcy forced him to change directions. After becoming a pharmacist he opened Bradham’s Pharmacy in New Bern. To keep customers coming back to the pharmacy and soda fountain he served refreshing beverages. In 1893, through experimentation, he created one drink that was particularly pleasing. A tasty combination of carbonated water, sugar, vanilla, rare oils, pepsin and cola nuts was known as “Brad’s drink”.

At this time, many beverages had some form of narcotic in them but Bradham was determined not to include these in his drink. His concern about the health of his patrons was a priority. As its popularity grew, Bradham started to devote more time to developing the beverage. The first manufacturing facility was in the basement of the drugstore and he made deliveries by horse and wagon. In 1898, it was renamed Pepsi Cola. On June 16, 1903 the name was trademarked; his neighbor designed the first Pepsi logo; ninety-seven shares of stock were issued and thus began the illustrious history of Pepsi Cola.

Bradham’s ingenuity, hard work and business acumen led to a thriving and growing business. He created many new jobs, sold franchises and opened bottling plants in 24 states. Unfortunately, the outbreak of WWI had a negative impact on the business. The rising and falling prices of sugar and the investment in a new bottling method took its toll on the business. He bought a surplus of sugar at a high price which was almost worthless when prices dropped. Bradham’s costs soared and he was not able to cover his production costs and consumers still expected to buy a bottle of Pepsi Cola for 5 cents. When the sugar market crashed in 1923 so did Bradham’s company. Bankruptcy lead Bradham back to his drugstore in New Bern and a Wall Street broker bought the trademark, the business, and goodwill for $35,000.

After bankruptcy Bradham continued to be involved in his community and died from a long-term illness in February 1934. Bradham married Charity Credle of New Bern on January 1, 1901, and they had three children: Mary, Caleb, Jr., and George. Through his determination, commitment to good health and a willingness to take risks, Brad’s
drink continues to be enjoyed around the world.