It is, indeed, a fun fact.
Yes, an ice-cold Pepsi is, without question, a refreshing treat. The next time you set out to savor the fizzy drink, take a moment to consider the brand's fantastic 125-year history, including its humble beginnings as the alleged go-to drink for upset tummies.
Soda fans across the internet have recently rediscovered the origin story behind the beloved brand's name. As Pepsi revealed on its website, way back in 1898, "small-town pharmacist Caleb D. Bradham looked for a name that would better describe his formula — which he was selling under the name 'Brad's Drink.' He bought the name 'Pep Kola' from a local competitor and changed it to Pepsi-Cola." But even that description doesn't tell the whole story.
As the Los Angeles Times explained in 2017, the "Pepsi-Cola" is actually derived from "dyspepsia (i.e., indigestion), which the beverage was supposed to assuage."
Need more? The Encyclopedia of Pepsi-Cola Collectibles explained that Bradham believed his creation needed a more holistic name, as he was certain it not only tasted great but did indeed aid in digestion, "similar to the way the pepsin enzyme does," but, as the book noted, "Pepsi never contained pepsin."
"...Bradham renamed 'Brad's Drink,' his popular non-alcoholic digestif crafted with a mix of kola nuts, sugar, water, caramel, lemon oil, nutmeg, and other additives, to 'Pepsi-Cola.' He believed the drink was more than a refreshment, aiding in digestion, getting its roots from the word dyspepsia, meaning indigestion,” Jenny Danzi, the senior director at Pepsi, shared with Food & Wine. “Fun fact, for those fans who were able to attend the Pepsi 125 Diner in New York City in October, 'Brad’s Drink' was the answer to one of our trivia questions!"
By 1903, Bradham went full-in on the drink's digestion powers. As Pepsi noted, "In keeping with its origin as a pharmacist's concoction, Bradham's advertising praises his drink: 'Exhilarating, Invigorating, Aids Digestion.'" Within that first year of operation as the official Pepsi-Cola company, Bradham sold 7,968 gallons of syrup.
So, can Pepsi, or any other carbonated drink, actually help with an upset stomach? As Medical News Today explained, there is some anecdotal evidence to support this claim, however, carbonated drinks can actually make symptoms worse for others. It also noted that if a person has an upset stomach to the point of vomiting or diarrhea, this can lead to the "loss of electrolytes such as chloride, potassium, sodium, and bicarbonate," which soda will not replace. Instead, it recommends consumers look to products like Pedialyte as a better option. This way, you can save Pepsi for when it really shines — as the drink of choice for when you're craving a slice of pizza.
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