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The history of an iconic sports beverage: Gatorade turns 50

October 1, 2015, 11:00 PM UTC

Is there anything more symbolic in sports than the Gatorade shower?

The beverage that sits in coolers on the sidelines of football fields and basketball courts all over the country is observing its 50th anniversary this year. A group of doctors invented the drink in a science lab on University of Florida’s campus in 1965. (Hence the name, inspired by the Florida Gators.) It’s hard to peg Gatorade’s birth to an exact date, but we’d cite the October 2, 1965 Florida vs. LSU football game that marked the first time the product was proven on the field.

In the intervening years, Gatorade has become a staple, and a brand synonymous with sports. Red Bull owes a great debt to Gatorade. So do sports-connected brands that aren’t beverages, from Reebok to Wilson to Rawlings and any others you can name. Few brands boast a list of current and former athlete endorsers as extensive and star-studded as Gatorade’s: mega-stars from Michael Jordan to Derek Jeter to Mia Hamm to Peyton Manning have guzzled Gatorade in television ads.

Now, as the drink lines up its half-a-century birthday candles, take a look at some photographs from the brand’s history.

GatoradePortrait of Dr. Robert Cade, creator of Gatorade, in lab at University of Florida College of Medicine. Gainesville, Florida. In 1965, a University of Florida assistant coach realized his players were being affected by the heat. Dr. Cade and his researchers realized that the players’ electrolytes that were being lost through their sweat were not being replaced. The prototypes apparently “tasted so like seawater that players promptly threw it up.” Lemon juice was then added thanks to the suggestion of Dr. Cade’s wife, Mary and the popular sports drink was born.Photograph by Lynn Pelham — Sports Illustrated/Getty Images

Dr. Cade sold the rights in 1967 to Stokely-Van Camp, a company known for its pork and beans, to sell Gatorade throughout the United States. The lightning bolt that you see on the bottles today was introduced in 1973. Photo of one of the original Gatorade cans.Courtesy of Gatorade

GatoradeDr. Cade serving Gatorade to football players during practice in Gainesville, Florida. The researchers began giving the beverages to players at the University of Florida to test. According to the company this resulted with the Gators winning the Orange Bowl for the first time ever in 1967.Photograph by Lynn Pelham — Sports Illustrated/Getty Images

One of Gatorade's earliest and most controversial advertisements appeared in Playboy magazine. The suggestive tagline read "It can take care of any kind of thirst you can work up." Below that, in smaller text: "Any kind."One of Gatorade’s earliest and most controversial advertisements appeared in Playboy magazine. The suggestive tagline read “It can take care of any kind of thirst you can work up.” Below that, in smaller text: “Any kind.”Courtesy of Gatorade

San Diego ChargersRunning back Chuck Muncie #46 of the San Diego Chargers bends down as he sits on the sideline bench during a game in the 1983 NFL season. In 1983 the Gatorade became the official drink of the NFL, and it still holds it today. The Kansas City Chiefs popularized the drink on the sidelines in 1968 after a victory over the Minnesota Vikings in Super Bowl IVGatorade has gained multiple partnerships with sports teams throughout the years, including the NBA, MLB, NHL and even Nascar.Photograph by Andy Hayt — Getty Images

New York Giants v Denver BroncosLinebacker Harry Carson #53 of the New York Giants splashes a bucket of Gatorade over the head of Head coach Bill Parcells after defeating the Denver Broncos during Super Bowl XXI on January 25, 1987 at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California. This was considered one of the first and most notable examples of the “Gatorade Dunk,” now call the “Gatorade Shower.” The shower has become a tradition to celebrate victories in any sport.Photograph by Focus on Sport/Getty Images

The Gatorade squeeze bottle make an appearance with its home team, the Florida Gators, in this shot of the 1989 football squad. pictured are defensive line coach Dan Coughlin with players Jeff Roth and Keith Williams.Courtesy of Gatorade

Remember this 1999 ad? A face off between the brand’s first spokesman, Michael Jordan and the first spokeswoman, Mia Hamm. Jordan signed with Gatorade in 1991 after his contract ended with Coke. He has become immortalized in Gatorade commercials, one of them everyone will remember “Be Like Mike.” Hamm joined the company in 1999 and boosted the image of female athletes. Since then Gatorade has worked with numerous athletes, including Serena Williams and Derek Jeter.

PepsiCo, Inc., of Purchase, NY, has reached an agreement December 4, 2000 to acquire The Quaker Oats..PepsiCo, Inc. reached an agreement on December 4, 2000 to acquire The Quaker Oats Company, creating one of the world’s five largest consumer products companies. Upon completion of the Quaker acquisition, a new management structure will take effect. From left to right are: Indra Nooyi, who will become President and CFO, Robert Morrison, who will be a Vice Chairman, while continuing as Quaker’s Chairman and CEO, PepsiCo Chairman and CEO Roger Enrico, who also will remain as a Vice Chairman, and Steve Reinemund, who will become Chairman and CEO.Photograph by Reuters

New York Yankees v Oakland AthleticsAlex Rodriguez #13 of the New York Yankees drinks a cup of Gatorade against the Oakland Athletics during a Major League Baseball game at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on June 1, 2011 in Oakland, California. In 2010, Gatorade re-branded and launched its G Series.Photograph by Jed Jacobsohn — Getty Images

Debate over the use of brominated vegetable oil.Sarah Kavanagh, 15, who started an online petition asking for the removal of brominated vegetable oil from PepsiCo’s Gatorade, in Hattiesburg, Miss., on December 5, 2012. While about 10 percent of drinks sold in the United States contain brominated vegetable oil, the substance’s use has been debated for decades and is banned in the European Union. Photograph by James Edward Bates — The New York Times/Redux

Inside the Gatorade Sports Science Institute at IMG AcademySantiago Ardila, a student athlete, trains on a treadmill that determines how many calories an athlete uses at different exercise intensities and if those calories come from carbohydrates or fats, at the Gatorade Sports Science Institute (GSSI) in Bradenton, Florida on April 15, 2014. The GSSI was founded in 1985 in Illinois. The lab is used to provided testing for athletes and develop new Gatorade products. In 2001 the institute began working with the auto racing organization to develop a tool that could hydrate the race car drivers during their races. Thus the development of GIDS, the Gatorade In-Car Drinking System. Photograph by Edward Linsmier — Bloomberg via Getty Images

GATORADE SCIENTISTSDr. Robert Cade, left, and the other three scientists in his lab who helped invent Gatorade: Dr. James Free, Dr. Alex de Quesada and Dr Dana Shires in 2001.Courtesy of Gatorade

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