Pepsi, a 125 year old beverage, initially marketed as a remedial drink for stomach issues..!?

Reportedly Pepsi is unarguably one of the most popular sodas in the world. This 125 year old beverage was invented in 1898 by pharmacist Caleb D. Bradham in New Bern, North Carolina, USA. Initially, the drink was named “Brad’s Drink” after its inventor. According to PepsiCo’s website, Bradham bought the name “Pepsi Kola” from a local competitor and changed it to Pepsi-Cola. The drink’s name was shortened to Pepsi in 1961. According to an article in the Los Angeles Times, the name Pepsi comes from “dyspepsia”, the Greek name for indigestion or upset stomach. Initially, Pepsi was promoted as a medical drink that cures indigestion.

When explaining this renaming of the drink, Jenny Danzi, the senior director at Pepsi, told Food & Wine, “Bradham renamed ‘Brad’s Drink,’ his popular non-alcoholic digestive crafted with a mix of kola nuts, sugar, water, caramel, lemon oil, nutmeg, and other additives, to ‘Pepsi-Cola.’ He believed the drink was more than refreshment, aiding in digestion, getting its roots from the word dyspepsia, meaning indigestion.” Today Pepsi is mostly marketed as a refreshment soft drink, to be taken as accompaniment to meals and snacks. As of 2023, Pepsi is believed to be the second most valuable soft drink product globally. It stands behind Coca-Cola in sales numbers.

It is interesting to note that Pepsi was invented 12 years after Coca-Cola. Coca-Cola, also known as Coke, was launched in the market in 1886 in Atlanta by a pharmacist named Dr john S. Pemberton. According to Southern Living, the name Coca-Cola comes from the carbonated drinks two main ingredients: the coca leaf and the kola nut. Advertiser Frank Mason Robinson, who worked as a bookkeeper for Dr john S. Pemberton, is credited with suggesting the name “Coca‑Cola” alongside designing the drink’s logo, which is still in use. According to the book, “For God, Country, and Coca-Cola”, Coca-Cola was marketed as a medicinal energy drink that can cure indigestion and headaches.

While Pepsi and Coca-Cola both marketed themselves as medicinal drinks, today they get much flak for their high sugar content and dismal nutritional value. In 2004, the Centre for Science and Environment, a Delhi-based environment advocacy group, claimed that Coca-Cola and PepsiCo products contained toxins far above the norms permitted in the developed world.

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