Currently on Display
Many people know that Caleb Bradham, a pharmacist in New Bern invented Brad’s Drink in the late 1880s, later to be known as Pepsi-Cola. His aim was to create a drink that was delicious and healthful, aiding digestion and boosting energy. He was confident his drink would be a taste-good, cure-all for modern ailments.
The Matthews Heritage Museum will have on display an exhibit on Pepsi: Born in the Carolinas from July 9 to November 19, 2022.
In 1905, as the drink’s popularity grew, Charlotte was one of the first two franchises of the new company. Thus began Pepsi-Cola Bottling Company of Charlotte, Inc. Henry Barksdale Fowler, who was to become known to his employees as “Mr. Pepsi-Cola,” bought the first Pepsi franchise from the drink’s inventor Caleb Bradham and began doing business in a barn beside the city’s blacksmith shop on East Trade Street, near the railroad tracks.
Over time, Charlotte’s franchise grew and because of Fowler’s forward-thinking management style, the parent company often introduced new items in the Charlotte market. The Pepsi swirl bottle, which was Fowler’s idea, was test marketed in Charlotte. By the early 1950s, more than 60 delivery trucks rolled out of the South Boulevard plant every day.
Fowler ran the business for more than 65 years. Fowler was the only franchisee to continuously bottle and distribute Pepsi while hundreds of others were abandoning the national soft-drink company. The company was later led by Dale Halton, Henry’s granddaughter who became President in 1981. Under her leadership, she exponentially grew the business. Pepsi-Cola Bottling Company of Charlotte employs 350 workers and has an annual sales volume of 15 million cases or $74 million. Halton’s success was recognized in 1988 when she was named “Charlotte Business Woman of the Year.”
The Musuem exhibit not only shares the history of Pepsi-Cola in Charlotte, but displays Pepsi memorabilia from the company.
To schedule a tour for school children, home-schoolers, or senior groups, please call the Museum at 704-708-4996. You can also contact the Museum regarding a tour by email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Reservations for a guided tour are necessary.