Lessons in History: August 28, 1898 – Caleb Bradham Invents Carbonated Soft Drink Later To Be Called “Pepsi-Cola”

Caleb Davis Bradham (May 27, 1867 – February 19, 1934) was an American pharmacist, best known as the inventor of soft drink Pepsi.

Circa 1890, he dropped out of the University of Maryland School of Medicine, owing to his father’s business going bankrupt. After returning to North Carolina, he was a public school teacher for about a year, and soon thereafter opened 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. Middle Street and Pollock Street in downtown New Bern, is where Bradham, in 1893, invented the recipe—a blend of kola nut extract, vanilla, and “rare oils”—for what was initially known as “Brad’s Drink,” but on August 28, 1898 was renamed Pepsi-Cola. Bradham named his drink after 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. His assistant James Henry King was the first to taste the new drink.

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