The Interesting History of Gatorade
It all started in the fall of 1965. The University of Florida’s football team, the “Gators”, were having a hard time practicing and playing in the intense southern heat. The players sweated so much in the heat and humidity that they easily became rundown. The “sports drinks” of today weren’t invented yet, and plain water didn’t work to revive the exhausted football players. The Gators’ coaches were perplexed. Not knowing what else to do, they asked the Science Department of the Florida university if they could come up with an antidote.
That September, Dr. Robert Cade, Dr. Dana Shires, Dr. Alex DeQuesada, and Dr. Jim Free began to work after hours to come up with a remedy for their football team’s frequent dehydration problem. The four put their minds together and quickly invented a drinkable liquid they thought would work. Their brew had no color to it, but it had a bad taste. So, the scientists added lemon juice to the liquid in an effort to hide its putrid taste.
On October first, Ray Graves, who was head coach of the Florida Gators, allowed the new sports drink to be tested on his freshman players. The results showed promise. So, the very next day, the entire varsity team drank the colorless liquid during their game against the Louisiana State University Tigers. The temperature was a searing one hundred degrees. But the Gators chugged Gatorade and fought their way to victory, beating the Tigers 14 to 7.
By November of the same year, the scientist’s invention, now named “Gatorade” after their football team, was an important part of the Gator’s practice sessions and games. The team furiously guzzled it to avoid dehydration.
In 1966, the Florida Gators’s football record was a victorious 9-2. The team succeeded in winning a chance to play in the prestigious Orange Bowl. Not only did the team play in the Orange Bowl on January 1, 1967, for the first time, but they went on to beat Georgia Tech. That same year, University of Florida quarterback Steve Spurrier took home the coveted Heisman Trophy.
It wasn’t surprising that Gatorade became the “Official Sports Drink of the NFL” in 1967.
The Kansas City Chiefs won the Super Bowl title in 1969. That team also credited Gatorade with giving them the winning edge.
Originally, the winning formula of Gatorade contained water, sugar, glucose-fructose syrups, citric acid, salt, sodium citrate, monopotassium phosphate, flavoring, and coloring ingredients.
The group of University of Florida scientists who invented the sports drink sold their part to Stokely-VanCamp. Stokely-VanCamp began to distribute Gatorade to the public in the summer of 1968. Tennis star Arthur Ashe is said to have started glugging the sports drink at this time. Ashe won the U.S. Open in 1968. He also helped the United States Davis Cup team win that year.
Stokely-VanCamp was bought by The Quaker Oats Company in 1983. The new owners of Gatorade opened up the “Gatorade Sports Science Institute (GSSI) in Illinois in 1988. The purpose of this laboratory was to support the claim that Gatorade is the “best thirst-quenching product in the world.” The Institute studies the “Science of Sweat.”
Today, check the label of a Gatorade Thirst Quencher sports drink that’s Strawberry Lemonade flavored, and it reads, “Water, sucrose syrup, glucose-fructose syrup, citric acid, natural and artificial flavors, salt, sodium citrate, monopotassium phosphate, ester gum, red 40.”
A 20-ounce bottle supplies the drinker with 270 milligrams of sodium, 75 milligrams of potassium, 35 grams of carbs, and 35 grams of sugar. Gatorade contains no fats and no protein.
Originally, Gatorade was only available in Lemon-Lime. But it now comes in a wide variety of flavors such as Cool Blue, Berry Citrus, Passion Fruit, Fierce Melon, Mandarine, Gatorade Rain, Orange, and Fruit Punch, just to name a few of their thirty flavors.
Athletes and common people alike drink this popular sports drink in order to rehydrate their bodies after during sports or other activities that make them sweat.