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 Caleb Davis Bradham, Sr

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Caleb Davis Bradham, Sr

  • Birth 27 May 1867 Chinquapin, Duplin County, North Carolina, USA
  • Death 19 Feb 1934 New Bern, Craven County, North Carolina, USA
  • Burial New Bern, Craven County, North Carolina, USA
  • Plot #1233-CD Bradham
  • Memorial ID 1803

Pharmacist. He is best remembered as the inventor of Pepsi-Cola. Born in Chinquapin, North Carolina, he graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and then attended the University of Maryland School of Medicine. About 1890, he dropped out of the University of Maryland when his father's business went bankrupt. He returned to North Carolina where he taught public school for a year, and then opened a drug store in New Bern, North Carolina, called the Bradham Drug Company. Typical of most drug stores of the period, he included a soda fountain and lunch counter. One afternoon in 1898, he experimented with a concoction of vanilla, kola nut extract, and other "secret ingredients" that he initially called Brad's Drink, but was soon called Pepsi-Cola. He named the drink by combining the terms Pepsin and Cola, as he thought the drink aided digestion like the pepsin enzyme, even though pepsin is not found as part of the drink. The drink soon became popular, and Bradham decided to have it manufactured. He quickly patented the drink and began a syrup company in 1902, incorporating the company on December 24, 1902. Six months later he registered the Pepsi-Cola trademark. The syrup was sold to other drug stores for use at soda fountains, where mixed with soda became Pepsi-Cola. By 1905, the company was so successful that Bradham moved into bottling the product and selling it to grocery stores. That year, he hired two bottling companies to keep up with the growing consumer demand. Bradham was active in civil life in North Carolina; besides his growing soft drink company, he was President of the People's Bank of New Bern, and served on the County Board of Commissioners. He was also an officer in the US Navy Reserve, serving for 25 years and retiring as a Rear Admiral. In 1914, Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels appointed him to the General Naval Militia Board. In 1923, near the peak of his success, Bradham and the Pepsi-Cola company declared bankruptcy, when Bradham purchased a large quantity of sugar for the company at a record price of 28 cents per pound, and in the following weeks, the price dropped to just five cents a pound, leaving him stuck with high-priced sugar that the consumer would not purchase. The company was sold for $35,000, and Bradham returned to his drugstore. Bradham died in 1934, after a long-term illness. He was buried in Cedar Grove Cemetery, New Bern, in which the pallbearers were members of his New Bern Masonic Lodge. Bradham was married on January 1, 1901, to Charity Credle, in New Bern; the couple would have three children: Mary, Caleb Jr, and George.

Bio by: Kit and Morgan Benson


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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Added: 1 Jan 2001
  • Find A Grave Memorial 1803
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Caleb Davis Bradham, Sr (27 May 1867–19 Feb 1934), Find A Grave Memorial no. 1803, citing Cedar Grove Cemetery, New Bern, Craven County, North Carolina, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .