Claim: Gatorade was invented by researchers at the University of Florida and named in honor of the Florida Gators, that school's football team.
Origins: Few beverages have been as successful as Gatorade, a carbohydrate-electrolyte sports drink favored by athletes performing at all levels of endeavor — from weekend warriors and sometimes-exercisers right up to professional players and Olympic hopefuls. From its humble beginnings almost four decades ago, Gatorade has grown to command 80 to90 percent of North America's sports drink market.
Gatorade was formulated in 1965 by researchers at the University of Florida in an effort to help the then-struggling Florida Gators football team.
Dehydration was taking its toll on the players, who were fated to contest their home games in the heat and humidity of the Florida swamp. The new beverage helped counteract the debilitating dehydration far better than pure water had, turning the Gators into an effective second-half team. Fueled by Gatorade, in 1967 the Gators won their first Orange Bowl.
Other athletes who tried the drink soon swore by it, claiming it helped them go longer and finish stronger. But it was the Kansas City Chiefs of the late 1960s who brought what had previously been a little-known sports beverage to national prominence. Like the Gators, Chiefs players were struggling with the effects of heat and humidity, albeit in Missouri. Ray Graves, coach of the Gators, told Hank Stram, the Chiefs' coach, about the dramatic results his players were experiencing thanks to the invigorating concoction. A few cases of Gatorade were shipped to the Chiefs to try, and the same dramatic improvements in energy levels and performance were noted in their players. The Chiefs made Gatorade a part of their lives, winning the 1969-1970 championship with a 23-7 victory over the Minnesota Vikings in Super Bowl IV with Gatorade at their
Gatorade came to be commercially produced after one of its developers at University of Florida moved to Indiana in 1967, where he met a vice-president for Stokely-Van Camp, a national company which produces canned and frozen fruits and vegetables. Stokely-Van Camp secured the rights to Gatorade from the University of Florida and its researchers, and began marketing the drink nationwide. In 1983 Quaker Oats bought out Stokely-Van Camp, and Gatorade became a member of the Pepsico family when Quaker Oats merged with the beverage giant in 2001.
The success of the drink has brought fame but also fortune to University of Florida. Gatorade has fetched more than $80 million in royalties for the school since 1973, when a series of legal disputes resulted in the creation of the Gatorade Trust for the benefit of the original inventors and the school. These monies have made numerous research projects possible in a wide array of disciplines.
The drink itself has changed little since its invention. It is still a combination of carbohydrates (sucrose, glucose, and fructose) and electrolytes (potassium and sodium). The first batch brewed by those long ago scientists is reported to have been rather nasty, but the addition of lemon juice made it drinkable. Today's Gatorade is a sweet-tasting drink.
Gatorade has since become an integral part of a number of sports, even beyond its use as a potable. Coaches of winning football teams are routinely doused with barrels of it at the conclusion of games, with the baptism by Gatorade having become almost a ritual.