New Bern is the birthplace of Pepsi and we've got the store to prove it. Invented by pharmacist Caleb Bradham in 1898, Pepsi has a long and bubbly history.
Fond of concocting fresh syrup flavors to mix with soda water at his drugstore’s soda fountain, Bradham had developed the formula for his new beverage in 1893. His friends initially dubbed it “Brad’s Drink,” but Bradham renamed his product “Pepsi-Cola” in August 1898, combining the names of two of the drink’s ingredients: pepsin, a digestive enzyme, and kola nut extract. Other ingredients were sugar, vanilla and “rare oils.”
At first, he mixed the syrup and sold it exclusively to soda fountains. Then, realizing that a ready-to-drink beverage might appeal to more people, he began bottling and franchising Pepsi-Cola in 1905. In April of that year, he applied for a second Pepsi-Cola trademark for a “tonic beverage.”
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 $30,000.
Pepsi logo through the years. The first Pepsi logo was designed by Bayard Wooten, one of the first photographers to engage in aerial photography when she flew in an open-air Wright Brothers Model B airplane. She lived next door to Caleb's pharmacy in downtown New Bern.
After years of ups and downs, PepsiCo is now back on top. In 2013, Pepsi was ranked #1 on CoreBrands’s list of Most Respected Companies. The company was also ranked #41 on the Fortune 500 list, in 2012.