Tuesday, October 5, 2010
New Bern: Ancestral Home of Pepsi
No, I did not go down to the little town of New Bern, North Carolina just to visit the birthplace of Pepsi. I was actually in town for a wedding, but figured it would be a great opportunity to explore the local historical landmark.
Coincidentally, my flight to the tiny airport was out of Atlanta's Hartfield-Jackson Airport. Atlanta is the home of Coca-Cola; I had a great time there when I visited in 1996. The museum and Coke displays were only topped by the bountiful samples of Coke products from all over the world. I also heard that the museum was recently renovated. I highly recommend a visit if you're in Atlanta.
Unlike it's rival, PepsiCo moved out of its hometown and set up shop in the small town of New York City. The remnants of its history in New Bern stay true to the mainstreet feel of the town. The one room Pepsi "museum" is mostly a store selling pro-Pepsi merchandise and a drug store counter with a fountain selling $.50 Pepsi and Mountain Dew.
Besides a placard on the wall and a book detailing the history of the soda and the company, there wasn't much else. A looping track played the 90s Joy of Cola jingle in the background. I sat at the counter and perused the store copy of the history book while chatting with Connie, the friendly Pepsi clerk. Like Coke, Pepsi was invented by an entrepreneurial druggist Caleb Bradham and originally named Brad's Drink. After some remarketing, possibly a combination of pepsin and kola, the product took off.
Though there wasn't much else to do in the store, I left content, reflecting that this huge global brand really did start in such humble beginnings.
*Full disclosure: in a Pepsi Challenge, I'd still pick Coke.