It was hot and humid in New Bern, North Carolina. A young pharmacist named Caleb Bradham began experimenting with combinations of spices, juices and syrups, trying to create a refreshing new drink to serve his customers. He succeeded beyond all expectations, inventing the beverage now known around the world as Pepsi-Cola.
Caleb Bradham knew that to keep people returning to his pharmacy, he would have to turn it into a gathering place. Like many pharmacists at the turn of the century, he had a soda fountain in his drugstore, where he served his customers refreshing drinks that he created himself. His most popular creation was a unique mixture of carbonated water, kola nuts, vanilla and rare oils, named "Brad's Drink" by his customers. Caleb decided to rename it "Pepsi-Cola," and advertised his new soft drink to enthusiastic customers.
Advertising Pepsi-Cola as "Exhilarating, Invigorating, Aids Digestion," the business began to grow. Caleb sold 7,968 gallons of syrup in 1903. Two years later, he awarded two franchises to bottle Pepsi- Cola to independent investors in Charlotte and Durham, North Carolina. In 1906, the number of franchises grew to 15 and leapt to 40 by 1907.
By the end of 1910, there were Pepsi-Cola franchises in 24 states, and the company was selling more than 100,000 gallons of syrup per year. Building a strong franchise system was one of Caleb's greatest achievements. Local Pepsi-Cola bottlers, entrepreneurial in spirit and dedicated to the product's success, provided a sturdy foundation for a growing company.
After the war ended in 1945, Pepsi-Cola turned its attention to ideas that would capture the spirit of a victorious America. The company moved its world headquarters to Manhattan, and continued to expand overseas into Latin America, the Philippines and the Middle East. At home, the company began experimenting with new bottle sizes, and for the first time began to package Pepsi-Cola in cans.
But the post-war marketplace was changing rapidly. A new retail phenomenon called supermarkets was beginning to appear, and in combination with equally dramatic changes in the economics of producing soft drinks, Pepsi was forced to abandon its strategy of selling the soft drink for half the price of its chief competitor. Soon, the long-running "Nickel, Nickel" advertising was replaced with a claim more in keeping with energetic postwar America, "More Bounce to the Ounce." Throughout this period, Pepsi's company president Al Steele's constant traveling companion was his wife, known to America's film fans as the glamorous movie star, Joan Crawford.
Many believe that it was stylish and sophisticated Miss Crawford who moved the company away from its "value" theme of the '40s into the more sophisticated campaigns of the '50s. A new logo incorporating the "bottle cap" was adopted, and Pepsi was no longer advertised based on price, but as a lifestyle accompaniment. After Mr. Steele's death in 1959, Miss Crawford was elected a member of the board of directors.
During that era, Americans had become more weight conscious, and Pepsi advertising reflected this cultural shift. Campaigns touted Pepsi's low caloric content with slogans, "The Light Refreshment" and "Refreshing without Filling.