Caleb Davis Bradham was born in Chinquapin, North Carolina on May 27, 1867. He graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and attended the University of Maryland School of Medicine, circa 1890. He dropped out of medical school because his father’s business was going bankrupt. After returning to North Carolina, Bradham taught public school for about a year, and later opened a drug store on the corner of Middle and Pollock Streets in downtown New Bern. He named the store “Bradham Drug Company” and, like many other drug stores of the time, housed a soda fountain. In 1893, Bradham invented “Brad’s Drink,” a blend of carbonated water, sugar, pepsin, kola nut extract, vanilla and “rare oils” at this location. On August 28, 1898, Caleb renamed his drink “Pepsi-Cola,” after a combination of two ingredients, “pepsin” and “cola”. He believed his drink was “healthy” as it aided in digestion much like the pepsin enzyme does. In 1898, Caleb Bradham wisely bought the trade name "Pep Cola" for $100 from a competitor in Newark, New Jersey that had gone broke. His assistant James Henry King, a young African American was the first to taste the new drink.
In 1902, Bradham launched the Pepsi-Cola Company in the back room of his pharmacy and on December 24, 1902 the Pepsi-Cola Company was incorporated in the state of North Carolina. The business began to grow, and on June 16, 1903, "Pepsi-Cola" was officially registered with the U.S. Patent Office. At first, he mixed the syrup himself and sold it exclusively through soda fountains. That first year, Bradham sold 7,968 gallons of syrup, using the theme line "Exhilarating, Invigorating, Aids Digestion." He also expanded his operation by opening a second Drug Store at the corner of Middle and Broad Streets. Caleb soon recognized that a greater opportunity existed to bottle Pepsi so that people could drink it anywhere. In 1905, Bradham began selling Pepsi-Cola in six-ounce bottles and awarded two franchises to Charlotte and Durham, North Carolina. The following year, 15 franchises were awarded, with another 40 by 1907. In 1910 there were 250 franchises in 24 states and in January of that year the Pepsi Cola Company held their first Bottler Convention in New Bern.
Caleb Bradham enjoyed 17 years of success with Pepsi-Cola. However, he had gambled on the fluctuations of sugar prices during WWI. He believed that sugar prices would continue to rise, but they fell drastically, leaving him with an overpriced sugar inventory. Pepsi Cola went bankrupt in 1923 and its assets were sold to Craven Holding Corporation for $30,000.
1898 - One of Caleb's formulations, known as "Brad's Drink," a combination of carbonated water, sugar, vanilla, rare oils and cola nuts, is renamed "Pepsi-Cola" on August 28, 1898. Pepsi-Cola receives its first logo.
1902 - The instant popularity of this new drink leads Bradham to devote all of his energy to developing Pepsi-Cola into a full-fledged business. He applies for a trademark with the U.S. Patent Office, Washington D.C., and forms the first Pepsi-Cola Company.
The first Pepsi-Cola newspaper advertisements appeared in the New Bern Weekly Journal.
1903 - "Doc" Bradham moves the bottling of Pepsi-Cola from his drugstore into a rented warehouse; he sells 7,968 gallons of syrup in the first year of operation.
Pepsi's theme line is "Exhilarating, Invigorating, Aids Digestion."
1904 - Bradham purchases a building in New Bern known as the "Bishop Factory" for $5,000 and moves all bottling and syrup operations to this location. Pepsi is sold in six-ounce bottles. Sales increase to 19,848 gallons.
1905 - Pepsi-Cola's first bottling franchises are established in Charlotte and Durham, North Carolina.
Pepsi receives its new logo, its first change since 1898.
1906 - Pepsi gets another logo change, the third in eight years. The modified script logo is created with the slogan, "The Original Pure Food Drink."
There are 15 U.S. Pepsi bottling plants. The Pepsi trademark is registered in Canada. Syrup sales rise to 38,605 gallons.
The federal government passes the Pure Food and Drug Act, banning substances such as arsenic, lead, barium, and uranium, from food and beverages. This forced many soft drink manufacturers, including Coca-Cola, to change their formulas. Pepsi-Cola, being free of any such impurities, claimed they already met federal requirements.
1907 - Pepsi-Cola Company continues to expand; the company's bottling network grows to 40 franchises. Pepsi-Cola sells more than 100,000 gallons of syrup.
Pepsi trademark is registered in Mexico. Syrup sales rise to 104,026 gallons.
1908 - Pepsi-Cola becomes one of the first companies to modernize delivery from horse drawn carts to motor vehicles. Two hundred fifty bottlers in 24 states are under contract to make and sell Pepsi-Cola.
1909 - Automobile race pioneer Barney Oldfield endorses Pepsi-Cola in newspaper ads as "A bully drink...refreshing, invigorating, a fine bracer before a race."
1910 - The first Pepsi-Cola bottlers' convention is held in New Bern, North Carolina.
1920 - Pepsi theme line speaks to the consumer with "Drink Pepsi-Cola, it will satisfy you."
After seventeen years of success, Caleb Bradham lost Pepsi Cola. He had gambled on the fluctuations of sugar prices during W.W.I, believing that sugar prices would continue to rise but they fell instead leaving Caleb Bradham with an overpriced sugar inventory. Pepsi Cola went bankrupt in 1923 and its assets were sold to a North Carolina concern; Craven Holding Corporation for $30,000.
Roy C. Megargel, a Wall Street broker, buys the Pepsi trademark, business and good will from Craven Holding Corporation for $35,000, forming the Pepsi-Cola Corporation