Caleb Bradham's Grave

Caleb Davis Bradham was born in Chinquapin in North Carolina. He was born on May 27, 1867, and was of English and Scotch-Irish descent. His father’s name was George Washington and his mother’s, Julia McCann Bradham. He grew to become an American pharmacist. Bradham is more famously known as the man who invented or created the soda called Pepsi.

His Life Before Soda

Caleb Bradham went to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. While there, he was a member of the Philanthropic Society. After graduation, he went to the University of Maryland School of Medicine. In 1890, his father’s business went bankrupt. This forced him to drop out of the University of Maryland School of Medicine.

The Invention of Pepsi-Cola

Caleb returned back home to North Carolina. While there, he got a job as a teacher. He taught for a year before he opened a drug store. The drug store was located in New Bern. It was at a location in Pollock Street and Middle Street in downtown New Bern. It was called the Bradham Drug Company.

Most drug stores of the time had a soda fountain. Bradham Drug Company was no exception. Bradham’s started experimenting with soda flavors. He was looking for something that would work well for his soda fountain. At his downtown location, Bradham came up with a recipe that worked. This was in 1893. The recipe included a blend of;

· Kola nut extract

· Vanilla

· Rare oils

The initial name for the soda was “Brad’s Drink”. On August 28, 1898, the drink was renamed Pepsi-Cola. This name was a blend of the words “pepsin” and “cola”. Bradham thought of the name because he believed that the recipe helped the body’s digestion. This is what the pepsin enzyme does in the body. The enzyme was not used in the recipe. However, Bradham felt the two items shared a function and should be named the same. The new soda recipe was first tasted by his assistant. His name was James Henry King.

The Rise and Fall of Caleb Bradham with Pepsi-Cola

The Pepsi-Cola Company became incorporated in North Carolina on December 24, 1902. Bradham was the president of the company. He registered the first Pepsi-Cola trademark on June 16, 1903. He rented a building near the drug store. He moved the production of Pepsi-Cola from the drugstore to the new rental that same year.

Bradham was selling his Pepsi-Cola only as syrup at first. In 1905, he started selling the recipe in six-ounce bottles. They gave the bottling contract to two companies in North Carolina.

The company became successful. There were franchises of Pepsi-Cola in more than 24 states. The company then declared bankruptcy on May 31, 1923. Bradham was forced to declare bankruptcy. This was because of a major business failure involving sugar. After World War I, the price of sugar rose to 28 cents per pound. Before the war, sugar went for 3 cents per pound. The price hike attracted Bradham to buy a huge amount of sugar hoping to make a profit. However, soon after he bought the sugar, the price nosedived. It went down to five cents per pound. He made huge losses. Caleb remained with high-priced sugar that he could not sell.

The company’s assets were sold to the Craven Holding Company. They went for a total amount of $30,000. Caleb Bradham declared bankruptcy and went back to his first drug store business.

Caleb Bradham's Family and His Role in Society

He married Charity Credle on January 4, 1901. They were married in New Bern in North Carolina. They had three children;

· Mary

· Caleb Jr

· George

Between the years 1908 and 1934, Bradham owned the Slover-Bradham House. In 1973, it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Caleb Bradham was able to serve his community. He performed several roles in society, including;

1. President of the People’s Bank of New Bern

2. Chairman of the Craven County Board of Commissioners

3. Officer of the naval reserve. He was in this role for 25 years. While there, he was named a lieutenant in the North Carolina Naval Militia. He was then promoted to commander in 1904. Caleb became a captain in 1913. By the time he reached retirement, he was a rear admiral. He was later appointed to the General Naval Militia Board. He was appointed in 1914 by the Secretary of the Navy, Josephus Daniels.

Caleb Bradham's Death

Caleb Bradham faced long-term illness before he passed away. He died in 1934. He was 66 years old. He was buried in his home county at the Cedar Grove Cemetery in New Bern. At his funeral, the pallbearers were members of his New Bern Masonic Lodge. The funeral was held at the First Presbyterian Church in New Bern. Bradham had been a member of the church.

His grave at the Cedar Grove Cemetery. The tombstone is accompanied by an engraved stone. The words engraved are; Inventor of Pepsi. His grave honors his invention, which was the greatest thing he did in his lifetime. Visitors to Bradham’s grave come with memorable gifts and things that are important to them. They leave flowers and small gifts at the grave. His tombstone serves as a reminder to a new generation of inventors. It reminds them to continue working on their passions. Caleb had one idea that could have changed his life if he made better choices. This is a lesson to the new and younger generation to take care of their ideas and seek advice.

Caleb Bradham is remembered as the man who invented Pepsi-Cola. He was a hardworking man who was surrounded by bad luck and bankruptcy. His father’s business and his fell to the same fate. He was a pharmacist who enjoyed experimenting with chemicals. His grave is a reminder to those who visit it to continue pursuing their dreams. It reminds visitors to work on experimenting to create new things. You never know what new groundbreaking thing you can come up with. People leave flowers and trinkets at his graveside to mark their visits.