[November 27th marked the seventh anniversary of the passing of physician, professor, researcher, and inventor Robert Cade, who led the research team that first formulated a fluid and electrolyte replacement drink that would come to be known as Gatorade, named for the mascot of the University of Florida football team. What ever you think of the use and overuse of sports drinks now, at the time, the invention of Gatorade changed the way the world thought about fluid replacement. This appreciation was originally published December 2nd, 2007, shortly after Cade’s death.]
James Robert Cade, known primarily as the inventor of Gatorade, died on November 27, 2007, at the age of 80. Neil Amdur wrote a nice, informative appreciation of Dr. Cade in the NY Times (Raise a Glass to the Father of Energy Drinks).
It is hard to imagine a world in which hydration, electrolyte replacement, and carbo-loading were not universal concepts in athletics, but that was the way things were in 1966 when Cade started providing “Cade’s Cola” to the University of Florida football team.
Now, Americans drink seven billions of bottles of Gatorade a year. Seven billion!
Cade was an interesting man with many interests outside of medicine and sports, including music, poetry, and antique cars. In the early years of Gatorade, he certainly wasn’t trying to start a revolution or found the sports drink industry. An accomplished athlete himself (as a high school runner in the 1940s, he ran the mile in 4:20), his primary motivation was helping athletes. The project that led to the invention of the first sports drink began when Cade was approached by an assistant coach for the Florida Gators football team about the problem of extreme heat and humidity faced by the players in practices and games.
Cade’s other projects includes developing a shock-absorbing football helmet, and studying the role of diet in the treatment of autism and schizophrenia.
in 2004, Cade and his family established the Cade Museum Foundation to design and build a museum in Gainesville, Florida. The Cade Museum for Creativity and Invention is currently under construction in Gainesville, Florida, and is scheduled to open in 2015.