People and Places: Birthplace of Pepsi-Cola

People and Places

We’re making a stop in New Bern for this week’s People and Places.

There’s so much history in Downtown New Bern.

And as WNCT’s Ken Watling shows us, that’s especially true at an old pharmacy on one street corner, where a billion-dollar brand was born.

It’s one of the most recognizable brands in the world.

“New Bern is the birthplace of Pepsi-Cola,” said Sabrina Bengel, Managing Partner of the Birthplace of Pepsi-Cola.

Specifically inside the building.

“It all originated from here,” said Mike Harris, an employee of the Birthplace of Pepsi-Cola.

In what was a pharmacy in the late 19th century at the corner of Pollock and Middle streets.

“The actual location that we’re standing in right now, where Caleb Bradham in 1898 invented Pepsi-Cola,” said Bengel.

And today that history is preserved inside the Birthplace of Pepsi-Cola.

“Where you step back in time,” said Bengel. Get a Pepsi. Get a Pepsi Float. We have a lot of gifts, pictures on the wall. It’s not a museum, it’s an experience.”

An experience that brings fans of the global brand here to New Bern, from all over the globe. 

“The number of people that you meet from around the world,” said Harris. You name a country and I’m pretty sure they will have been here.”

And those visitors can come in, relax, grab a fountain Pepsi.

And a bag of fresh popcorn, without breaking the bank.

“It’s the best deal you’ll find on the block,” said Harris. Yes, the prices are excellent.”

So after some refreshments and maybe a few other purchases, you can learn much more about who made all this possible, Pepsi creator Caleb Bradham.

“Here was a simple businessman, a pharmacist, who was trying to help his customers, creating a drink that he felt was a digestive aid and very soothing to his customers,” said Bengel. They liked it. It became bigger than him. You know you think about it, in 1898 he developed it. By 1910 he 250 franchises in 24 states.”

Now PepsiCo ranks 45 on the 2018 Forbes 500 list. 

Still, the company doesn’t forget its roots.

“I really believe that PepsiCo understands that you can’t move forward if you don’t know where you came from,” said Bengel. They have embraced our beautiful city, our historic city. And I’m very thankful for the relationships we’ve built.”

And Sabrina and the folks here at the birthplace of Pepsi are building relationships with the thousands of visitors who stop in every year, helping to keep alive the story of how this iconic brand was created.

“It is the most incredible opportunity,” said Bengel. Every day I’m so thankful for the opportunity to tell the story of Caleb Bradham and what a small-town businessman created is now a worldwide, billion-dollar brand.”

A brand that’s forever the pride of eastern North Carolina.

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