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Wednesday, August 10, 2022

In the beginning, there was only lemon-lime.

But 50 years and several major athlete endorsements later, Gatorade has more than 30 flavors and millions of fans.

Dr. J. Robert Cade created a UF legacy when he invented Gatorade in 1965, said Dr. Jim Free, who was a member of the Gatorade invention team.

UF’s celebration of Gatorade’s invention kicks off today with a meeting of the inventors of Gatorade, wrote Martin Salamone, the UF assistant athletic director of revenue generation and fan retention, in an email. There will be a gala this evening.

Free will be at the events. He said it was fun to work with Cade, who died in 2007.

"It was a blast," the 81-year-old said. "He was a fun guy to work with. He was low key. He did not put anyone down. He was very supportive of all the projects that were brought to him."

In the 1960s, UF football coaches approached Cade, saying there was a problem with players being dehydrated, passing out and not peeing during practice, said Dr. Mark Segal, who works in the UF College of Medicine. Cade’s solution was a formula of water, sodium, potassium and glucose that ultimately became Gatorade.

That drink now helps student -athletes like Taylore Fuller, a UF sociology senior and UF softball player.

"Without having those Gatorade bottles and the Gatorade in our jugs to replenish our electrolytes," the 21-year-old said, "I’m not sure we can make it in that kind of heat with just water."

Gatorade doesn’t only help athletes. UF receives more than $270 million in royalties from Gatorade, which helps fund research across the university, particularly in the College of Medicine, Segal said.

"We’re actually becoming more and more dependent on those Gatorade dollars to help investigate cures for people," he said.

The impact of the royalties on UF is something Cade would have been excited about, said his daughter, Phoebe Miles, who co-founded the Cade Museum for Creativity and Invention. She spent a lot of time observing her father’s research at UF growing up.

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"He was the most creative person I’ve ever met," she said.

Gator fans can celebrate Gatorade’s 50th birthday prior to the game Saturday at Bubba Burger Gator Fan Fest, located outside Gate 2 of the Stephen C. O’Connell Center, Salamone said.

Free, whose favorite flavor of Gatorade is the original lemon-lime, said he hopes to see the funds from Gatorade do more good.

"The funds from Gatorade will continue to provide research funds at the University of Florida and hopefully stimulate young scientists to look for things that can be helpful to people throughout the world," he said.

Contact Alexandra Fernandez at afernandez@alligator.org and follow her on Twitter @alexmfern

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