JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Dr. J. Robert Cade, who invented the
sports drink Gatorade and launched a multibillion-dollar industry
that the beverage continues to dominate, died Tuesday of kidney
failure. He was 80.
His death was announced by the University of Florida, where he
and other researchers created Gatorade in 1965 to help the school's
football players replace carbohydrates and electrolytes lost
through sweat while playing in swamp-like heat.
"Today with his passing, the University of Florida lost a
legend, lost one of its best friends and lost a creative genius,"
said Dr. Edward Block, chairman of the department of medicine in the College of Medicine. "Losing any one of those is huge. When
you lose all three in one person, it's something you cannot
Now sold in 80 countries in dozens of flavors, Gatorade was born
thanks to a question from former Gators coach Dwayne Douglas, Cade
said in a 2005 interview with The Associated Press.
He asked, "Doctor, why don't football players wee-wee after a
"That question changed our lives," Cade said.
Cade's researchers determined a football player could lose as
much as 18 pounds -- 90 to 95 percent of it water -- during the three
hours it takes to play a game. Players sweated away sodium and
chloride and lost plasma volume and blood volume.
Using their research -- and about $43 in supplies -- they concocted
a brew for players to drink while playing football. The first batch
was not exactly a hit.
"It sort of tasted like toilet bowl cleaner," said Dana
Shires, one of the researchers.
"I guzzled it and I vomited," Cade said.
The researchers added some sugar and some lemon juice to improve
the taste. It was first tested on freshmen because coach Ray Graves
didn't want to hurt the varsity team. Eventually, however, the use
of the sports beverage spread to the Gators, who enjoyed a winning
record and were known as a "second-half team" by outlasting
After the Gators beat Georgia Tech 27-12 in the Orange Bowl in
1967, Tech coach Bobby Dodd told reporters his team lost because, "`We didn't have Gatorade ... that made the difference."
Stokely-Van Camp obtained the licensing rights for Gatorade and
began marketing it as the "beverage of champions." PepsiCo Inc.
now owns the brand, which has brought the university more than $150
million in royalties since 1973.
Cade said Stokely-Van Camp hated the name "Gatorade,"
believing it was too parochial, but stuck with it after tests
showed consumers liked the name.
Gatorade held 81 percent of the $7.5 billion-a-year U.S. sports
drink market in 2006, according to John Sicher, editor and
publisher of Beverage Digest.
"Gatorade is the clear granddaddy of those drinks," Sicher
Cade said he thought the use of Gatorade would be limited to
sports teams and never dreamed it would be purchased by regular
"I never thought about the commercial market," he said. "The
financial success of this stuff really surprised us."
Cade, who was the University of Florida's first kidney
researcher, also said he was proud that Gatorade was based on
research into what the body loses in exercise.
"The other sports
drinks were created by marketing companies," he said.
Since its introduction, Cade said the formula changed very
little. An artificial sweetener has replaced sugar.
Instead of the original four flavors, there are now more than 30
available in the United States and more than 50 flavors available
Born James Robert Cade in San Antonio on Sept. 26, 1927, Cade, a
Navy veteran, graduated from the University of Texas at Austin and
the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School in Dallas.
Cade was appointed an assistant professor in internal medicine
at UF in 1961. He worked until he was 76, retiring in November 2004
from the university, where he taught medicine, saw patients and
Cade and his wife, Mary, had six children.