The iconic beverage Gatorade can be found on nearly every sport’s sideline, from pee-wee to professional. Now a multibillion-dollar industry and a beacon of the storied, innovative research performed at UF, Gatorade first got its start in labs at the UF College of Medicine.
Led by J. Robert Cade, M.D., UF College of Medicine kidney disease specialist, a team of researchers explored why football players were getting sick during practice or play. They discovered players were losing valuable nutrients in the Florida heat and needed a way to replenish them.
Cade and his team introduced Gatorade to the Florida football team in 1965. That season’s team went on to finish the season 7-4, then improved their record the following season to 9-2 and won the Orange Bowl for the first time in school history.
- When first developed, it was said that no one liked the taste of the original drink. Cade’s wife, Mary, suggested mixing lemon juice into a batch to make it taste better. The research group squeezed so many lemons they developed what Cade called “lemon squeezers’ cramp.”
- The “Gatorade dunk” tradition started when NFL New York Giants player Jim Burt poured a Gatorade-filled cooler on the head of his coach, Bill Parcells, in 1985.
- Gatorade has funded more than $250 million in other research projects at UF.
*Sources: Gatorade.com; the memoirs of Dr. J. Robert Cade; Sports Illustrated, July 2-9, 2001; American Sports: A History of Icons, Idols and Ideas; The New York Times