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Pepsi & Pepsi Pete

In the summer of 1898 in New Bern, North Carolina, a young pharmacist named Caleb Bradham began experimenting with combinations of spices, juices and syrups, trying to create a refreshing new drink to serve to his customers. He succeeded beyond all expectations, inventing the beverage now known around the world as Pepsi-Cola. When Walter Mack became president of the Pepsi-Cola company in October of 1938, he was looking for new ways to reach customers. One way to do this was through the comic section in the newspaper which was widely read at that time. At first Mack wanted to use Popeye and replace his spinach with Pepsi, but the cost of using Popeye’s image was too expensive at the time. PepsiCola’s ad agency of Newell-Emmet was given the task of coming up with a character that would be popular with readers. Several characters were rejected until the agency came up with the whimsical keystone cop looking characters. The keystone cops were named Pepsi and Pete by Mack and first appeared in several newspapers in the New York area in September 1939. By 1940 Pepsi and Pete cartoon ads were running in almost 200 newspapers across the

country. The characters were so popular the comic strip ran for 12 years. Several different artists drew Pepsi and Pete over the years which would explain while sometimes their names would be switched. One of the more famous artists to draw Pepsi and Pete was Rube Goldberg. Pepsi and Pete were so popular in the newspaper that the company started a full ad program showcasing the characters and even actors where hired to portray Pepsi and Pete for street parades. Today, Pepsi and Pete remain highly collectible among Pepsi collectors. Promotional items produced include cardboard signs, tin signs, glasses, matchbooks, etc. As with most popular collectibles, items are being reproduced so you will want to thoroughly check out the items before purchasing. If you would like to learn more about Pepsi-Cola collectibles, the company history and network with other collectors, join the Pepsi-Cola Collectors Club at www. pepsicolacollectorsclub.com. The club publishes a quarterly newsletter and has an annual Pepsi Fest Convention usually held in conjunction with the March Indy Ad Show plus several other smaller functions during the year. Pepsi Fest is a three day event where collectors are given the opportunity to buy and trade from each other, attend seminars on Pepsi memorabilia and get to know each other at social functions. For more information on Pepsi Fest in Indianapolis, IN on March 14-16, contact Diane Gabriel at 724-658-6310 or e-mail at secretary@pepsicolacollectorsclub.com Scott Kinzie

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Antique Back Roads Volume 5  

Free collecting magazine featuring articles written by collectors for collectors. Read on line.