If one of your New Year’s resolutions includes eliminating soda from your diet, you may want to reconsider. Drinking Pepsi may do for you what it did for eight-month-old Emma Woodley. As a result of daily consumption of this beverage, Miss Woodley’s parents claimed that Emma acquired a “disposition as sunny as the clime of Italy” and was “growing stronger and prettier” each day. A circa-1905 letter from the bottling works encourages Pepsi drinking as “beneficial to young and old.” The beverage, invented by New Bern druggist Caleb Bradham in the 1890s, was originally sold as a remedy for upset stomachs under the name “Brad’s Drink.” In 1897, the beverage was renamed Pepsi-Cola to underscore one of its ingredients, pepsin, an enzyme that aids digestion.
A new online North Carolina Collection Gallery exhibit features a copy of this letter as well as other items that were featured in the exhibition “Sour Stomachs and Galloping Headaches.” The 2005 exhibition provided a broad overview of medicine in our state. The online exhibit is a condensed version and highlights some of the common ailments and deadly epidemics that afflicted our North Carolina ancestors.