Pepsi Cola

In North Carolina, we’re known for a multitude of drinks. We have Cheerwine, sweet tea, moonshine, and Duplin wines. But somehow, the most well-known beverage from the Old North State often goes overlooked. What drink is that? Pepsi-Cola.

Pepsi has deep roots here in North Carolina. It was created by pharmacist Caleb Bradham in 1893. Bradham, who once wanted to be a doctor, set out to create a refreshing fountain drink to aid digestion and boost energy.

The result of his efforts, “Brad’s Drink,” was first sold out of a soda fountain at Bradham’s Pharmacy in New Bern. People soon lined up for a taste, and Brad’s Drink became an overnight sensation.

Bradham rebranded the drink in 1898, giving it the name Pepsi-Cola. He chose Pepsi because the beverage was marketed as a treatment for dyspepsia.

In 1902, Bradham formed the Pepsi-Cola Company. He peddled the syrups to other pharmacies and North Carolina vendors. Sales of the soda fountain syrup reached 20,000 gallons within two years.

Demand continued to climb, inspiring Bradham to offer the drink in bottles. He opened bottling franchises in Durham and Charlotte and a home office building in New Bern. By 1910 there were 240 franchises in 24 states. That year the company held its first Bottler Convention in New Bern.

Unfortunately, WWI spelled disaster for Bradham’s empire. High prices and sugar rations prevented Pepsi from meeting the needs of its customers. The company went bankrupt in 1923.

When the assets were sold, Pepsi left North Carolina for the Northeast. Though it has been headquartered in New York for almost a century, the company has never forgotten its Southern roots.

PepsiCo happily acknowledges that Pepsi was born in the Carolinas. They even hold the annual shareholders meeting in New Bern.

So if you’re from North Carolina, step away from the Coca-Cola. Instead, grab yourself a Pepsi and taste the Carolinas.

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