You Probably Don’t Know the Odd Meaning Behind Pepsi’s Name
The Pepsi brand is so ingrained in consumers' heads as a leading soft drink choice that few people stop to question why it's called "Pepsi" in the first place.
It Wasn't Always Called Pepsi
Before getting into the meaning behind the soda's current name, we have to look back at its past. A Los Angeles Times article about the Pepsi and Coke names dug deep into the brands' history.
"But what stopped me in my tracks was the revelation that Pepsi used to be called Brad's Drink, named for its creator Caleb Davis Bradham," the article states.
According to the North Carolina History Project, Bradham hoped to be a medical doctor in the late 1800s. He eventually settled on opening a pharmacy in New Bern, North Carolina "where locals loved to frequent and pay a nickel to be entertained by a jukebox featuring the piano and/or violin playing the latest music selections."
The pharmacy also was where Bradham began experimenting with juices, spices and syrups to create a drink that would keep customers coming back. He also allegedly hoped to provide them with a way to improve their health through the concoctions.
"Bradham believed his product aided digestions and had no harmful effects (then it had no caffeine)," the North Carolina History Project reports.
The pharmacists settled on a mixture of sugar, water, caramel, lemon oil, koala nuts, nutmeg and other additives as Brad's Drink was born.
Why Is It Called Pepsi?
While Bradham's effort to create something that helped his customers was noble, the "Brad's Drink" name wasn't exactly a slam dunk even by marketing standards in 1898.
The Los Angeles Times explains the drink was renamed "Pepsi-Cola," taking inspiration from the medical term "dyspepsia." The condition involves recurring indigestion, which Bradham thought would be aided by his creation.
With the freshly renamed drink growing in popularity at his pharmacy, Bradham had aspirations to grow the brand beyond his small North Carolina town.
PepsiBornInTheCarolinas.com, which charts the history of the Pepsi brand in the region, shows Bradham filed for the official Pepsi-Cola trademark in 1903. This allowed the pharmacist and drink creator to expand his operations and sell his soda syrup to a wider audience.
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Gallery Credit: Meg Dowdy