What is Pepsi’s connection to the Tar Heel State?
Pepsi’s story isn’t the only one that began in the Carolinas. This is also where Pepsi’s creator, pharmacist Caleb Bradham, grew up.
Bradham was born in Chinquapin, NC, in 1867. He spent his childhood in Duplin County, leaving home to start college at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1886. (North Carolina History Project)
He left the state for a short stint in medical school, and then graduated from pharmacy school in Maryland. But he was destined to return.
Armed with a degree, he established Bradham’s Pharmacy in New Bern, complete with a jukebox and soda fountain. In this community-friendly space, Bradham cultivated his passion for medication as well as beverage creation. It was here that he invented Brad’s Drink — and what would become Pepsi-Cola. (North Carolina Miscellany)
His aim was to craft and share a drink that could aid digestion. That concept is actually the inspiration behind the brand name — "pepsi" in Greek describes the dissolving of food in the stomach. Bradham mixed sugar, water, caramel, lemon oil, kola nuts and nutmeg with other additives to create his product.
Pepsi-Cola officially got its name in 1903, and the company grew from there. Bradham kept his connection to UNC through it all, sponsoring the Bradham Prize for scholarship at the School of Pharmacy until 1930.
Today, his legacy lives on through the globally recognized Pepsi brand. But his legacy also stays strong at his alma mater in Chapel Hill, where the NC Collection Gallery in UNC’s Wilson Library features Pepsi-related artifacts. (North Carolina Miscellany)