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Happy 50th, Gatorade

Sept. 29, 2015
Gatorade sports drink was created 50 years ago by four doctors to help the Florida Gator football team stay hydrated while playing.

Gatorade sports drink was created 50 years ago by four doctors to help the Florida Gator football team stay hydrated in the intense heat while playing. Then Gator coach Ray Graves let the researches test the drink on the football squad's B team, according to a release.

Today, the drink that made "electrolytes" a well-known word is still going strong. Recognized across the globe, Gatorade appears at just about every major sporting event, usually in a bright orange barrel, emblazoned with the company's iconic lightning bolt logo.

The four doctors – J. Robert Cade, M.D., Dana Shires, M.D., Jim Free, M.D. and Alejandro de Quesada, M.D. – made the original Gatorade out of water, electrolytes and lemon juice. Today, it's a University of Florida staple and its most widely known invention.

In fact, the university released news that numerous activities will commemorate Gatorade's anniversary.

Now owned by PepsiCo, Gatorade and the royalties alone have generated moer than $250 million in funding for research projects for the University of Florida. Gatorade kicked off 2015 with a 50th anniversary celebration supported by a new ad campaign that includes historic film footage of the Gators doing push-ups. The push-up countdown becomes the device to use 50 iconic scenes in sports, one for each year of Gatorade’s existence.

Even the most casual sports fan would agree that Gatorade is one of the country’s most popular sports drinks. The brand dominates the $7-billion sports drink segment with 74.2 percent of sales, followed distantly by Coca-Cola's Powerade.

The brand is also known for memorable ads such as campaigns featuring Michael Jordan and the “Be Like Mike,” series, with Jordan at age 39 playing his younger self one-on-one. 

Last year, Gatorade sales grew 5.4 percent according to Pepsi, while the total U.S. isotonic drinks market, which includes drinks that "rehydrate people," such as Gatorade, only increased 4.1 percent for the 52-weeks ended April 25, according to Nielsen. That means Gatorade is outperforming the market as a whole.

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