The Birthplace of Pepsi Museum
Location: New Bern, NC (256 Middle St.)
When to visit: Monday-Saturday 10 am-6 pm, Sunday 10 am-4 pm
Cost: Free to walk through
Time needed: 10-20 minutes
On the heels of our Coke Museum profile, we wrap up “Carbonated Beverage Week” on the blog with a look at a small store in North Carolina that lays claim to being the birthplace of Pepsi.
This isn’t officially a “museum” – in fact, as of this writing, there is no such thing as a Pepsi Museum anywhere. But this store is the next best thing, since it’s a gift shop with some history behind it. Those who enjoy quirky attractions like me will consider this place on the same level as a small-town museum.
Read on to discover what you’ll see if you drive out to see this fun little attraction.
History of the Birthplace of Pepsi Store
In 1893, Caleb Bradham began producing the creatively-titled “Brad’s Drink” in a pharmacy in New Bern. He renamed it Pepsi and in 1903 began selling the syrup nationwide with the slogan, “Exhilarating, Invigorating, Aids Digestion.” I don’t know about you, but when I want to aid digestion, I reach for a Pepsi.
The original Pepsi bottles were 6 ounce glass bottles. Today, we’d consider those tiny kid-sized bottles!
Bradham and Pepsi went bankrupt in 1923, partially due to a massive drop in sugar prices right after he’d stocked up on a massive amount of sugar. Such bad timing! Pepsi was sold to Craven Holding Company, and Bradham went back to operating this pharmacy.
When I visited here a few years back, the birthplace of Pepsi store was open six days a week, but it now has limited Sunday hours as well. That’s great news for weekend travelers in the area.
Settled in 1710, New Bern is the second-oldest city in North Carolina. Here’s a guide if you’re looking for other things to do in New Bern. Also note that the North Carolina History Center in New Bern now has a Pepsi Family Center exhibit as part of its interactive museum.
Things You’ll See in Display at the Pepsi Museum
The pharmacy is now a gift shop that sells souvenirs and of course, Pepsi products. The place is small, so you won’t need to spend hours here, but there are plenty of unusual Pepsi products for sale. Get your bumper tickets, writing utensils, and lighters!
And how about that “friends don’t let friends drink Coke” sticker? I knew Pepsi and Coke were rivals, but I didn’t realize they were willing to call each other out by name that way!
And don’t forget Christmas tree ornaments. I always suspected that Santa drinks Pepsi, and now my suspicions have been confirmed!
You can recognize those cans in any language. That’s some quality branding right there.
You can pick up bottled six-packs of Pepsi and Mountain Dew products, just like the old days. Grab some popcorn while you browse the store!
I like these old-timey billboard advertisements. Pepsi should consider bringing them back!
They also sell tshirts, hoodies, and lots of other memorabilia. If you’re a big fan of Pepsi, you must visit here at least once in your life.
As for that Pepsi vs. Coke battle… personally, I’ve always like Pepsi better. The carbonation in Coke always seems like a fizzy fog, and I can almost feel the acid eating away at my teeth. Whereas the carbonation in Pepsi just seems more crisp and pleasing to the mouth. But reasonable people can disagree on this point.
Would you be interested in stopping by to visit a Pepsi museum where the drink was created?