Roadsidepictures, Flickr // CC BY-NC 2.0
Roadsidepictures, Flickr // CC BY-NC 2.0

10 Thirst-Quenching Facts About Gatorade

Roadsidepictures, Flickr // CC BY-NC 2.0
Roadsidepictures, Flickr // CC BY-NC 2.0

If you've ever stepped foot in a gym, grocery store, or sporting arena, then you've probably heard of Gatorade. The drink has been around for half a century and is now sold in over 80 countries, but how much do you know about the drink that changed sport culture and the way we treat dehydration?

1. IT WAS INVENTED TO HELP THE FLORIDA GATORS FOOTBALL TEAM STAY HYDRATED.

Jimmy Emerson, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

This may seem like common knowledge to some, but in 2002, 60 percent of people surveyed had no idea that there was a connection between Gatorade and the University of Florida football program. After 20 football players were sent to the infirmary for dehydration in a single weekend during the 1960s, the college's coaching staff expressed concern about the health of the UF student athletes. They met with Dr. Robert Cade, who began experimenting on the players to develop a drink formula that would replenish the electrolytes lost during long periods of physical activity in the hot Florida sun.

2. IT WAS VERY EXPENSIVE TO DEVELOP.

The first batch of Gatorade cost $43 to make back in 1965, which is approximately $325 when adjusted for inflation. After seeing the results of the “magic elixir,” head coach Ray Graves requested that more be produced, ”no matter what it costs.”

3. IT ORIGINALLY TASTED TERRIBLE, BUT PLAYERS DRANK IT ANYWAY.

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A researcher reportedly vomited after trying the experimental drink, and players said that it tasted like “bodily waste,” but they drank the product anyway for the health benefits. Eventually, Dr. Cade’s wife, Mary, suggested that they add lemon juice to the mixture to improve the taste.

4. THE SUPER DRINK SAVED LIVES AT A FLORIDA HOSPITAL DURING EARLY TESTS.

After being tested on football players, Gatorade was given to babies at the UF Health Shands Hospital who were being treated for dehydration. According to Dr. Cade’s daughter, Phoebe Cade Miles, “there used to be hundreds of babies admitted for severe dehydration, many of whom died, and this changed overnight.”

5. THE GATORADE SHOWER BEGAN AS A PRANK IN 1985.

Almost every big victory in the NFL today is celebrated with players dumping a cooler of ice-cold Gatorade on their coach. The person often credited as the pioneer of the Gatorade shower is New York Giants defensive tackle Jim Burt, who gave one to head coach Bill Parcells in 1985 after defeating the Washington Redskins.

6. MICHAEL JORDAN WAS THE FIRST CELEBRITY TO ENDORSE GATORADE.

Previously on Team Coca-Cola, Michael Jordan was offered $1.4 million per year for ten years in 1991 to be the face of Gatorade. “They had Elton John and Whitney Houston making millions, I don’t understand why they wouldn’t pay Michael the same,” said Jordan’s former agent, David Falk, about Coke. Jordan’s performance on the court, widely popular campaigns, and ads like the “Be Like Mike” commercial above made the partnership extremely profitable.

7. THEY SPONSOR EVERY SINGLE TEAM IN THE NFL.

The Kansas City Chiefs tried Gatorade in 1969 on recommendation from coach Grave from the Florida Gators. Fourteen years later, Gatorade became the official sports drink of the NFL and is currently the only company that sponsors all 32 teams in the league.

8. THERE WAS A GATORADE AND BEER CONCOCTION CALLED HOP'N GATOR.$_57.JPG

Dr. Cade sold a drink recipe to the Pittsburgh Brewing Company, which sold the alcoholic beverage until the mid-1970s. Hop’n Gator was last produced in 2004 as a special batch of 10,000 barrels and has not been made since.

9. GATORADE ORANGE IS NOT THE SAME AS FLORIDA GATOR ORANGE.

pantone.jpg
According to a 2009 Style Guide for the Gatorade “G Bolt” logo and related packaging, the official orange of Gatorade is number 1505 in the Pantone Matching System (PMS), but the lightning bolt has a red (PMS 185) outline that makes the orange appear lighter. [PDF] The shade of orange used by the University of Florida is PMS 172.

10. AN ESTIMATED 100 BILLION OUNCES OF GATORADE ARE SOLD EACH YEAR.

That's according to a 2005 estimate by ESPN.com business reporter and author of the First in Thirst: How Gatorade Turned the Science of Sweat Into a Cultural Phenomenon, Darren Rovell. That much Gatorade could fill over 1,000 Olympic-sized swimming pools. 

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On Top of the World: Remembering the Lost Trend of Flagpole Sitting
Alvin "Shipwreck" Kelly sitting on a flagpole atop the Hotel St. Francis in Newark, New Jersey
Alvin "Shipwreck" Kelly sitting on a flagpole atop the Hotel St. Francis in Newark, New Jersey
Alamy

Flappers and bootleggers might be the most memorable aspects of the 1920s, but there's a lesser-known, yet no less colorful, trend from that decade: flagpole sitting. From the glamorous hills of Hollywood to the blue-collar dwellings of Union City, New Jersey, this unusual pastime turned eccentric showmen and ordinary people into overnight celebrities, before the crushing reality of the Great Depression grounded their climb to stardom.

Flagpole sitting is exactly what it sounds like: a person climbing on top of a towering pole, usually in the middle of a city, and testing their endurance by sitting atop it for as long as their body holds up. It began in Hollywood in January 1924, when a former sailor, boxer, steelworker, and stuntman named Alvin “Shipwreck” Kelly was hired by a local theater to sit on a pole outside of the building for as long as possible to drum up publicity for a new movie. Kelly, a New York City native—whose nickname was supposedly inspired by his dubious claims as a Titanic survivor—wowed crowds by perching himself on the pole for an astonishing 13 hours and 13 minutes. The stunt worked, and once it got picked up by the papers, offers started pouring in from more businesses to perform pole-sittings. Kelly was eager to oblige.

News of Kelly's exploits spread, and before long, men, women, and children were climbing poles of their own. There was the three-week feat of Bobbie Mack, a young woman from Los Angeles; Joe “Hold ‘em” Powers, who sat for 16 days in Chicago in 1927 and climbed back down with six fewer teeth than he started with after a storm smacked him face-first into his pole; and Bill Penfield, who braved a pole for 51 days in Strawberry Point, Iowa before a storm forced him down. In 1928, a 15-year-old named Avon Foreman of Baltimore even established a juvenile sitting record of 10 days, 10 hours, 10 minutes, and 10 seconds (he practiced on an 18-foot hickory tree in his backyard). Foreman’s accomplishment was so inspiring to Baltimore mayor William F. Broening that he publicly declared that the youngster exhibited “the pioneer spirit of early America.”

Still, Kelly was the one making a big business out of pole sitting. Even when he wasn’t holding the record, he was the ambassador of the bizarre sport. He toured 28 cities, attracting massive crowds that jammed streets and lined rooftops just to get a glimpse of the daredevil poking out among the apartment buildings and businesses of Downtown, USA.

Kelly's notable feats included an 80-hour sit in New Orleans and the 146 hours he spent high above Kansas City's Old Westgate Hotel. But even those were overshadowed by his largest-scale stunts: 312 hours on top of Newark’s St. Francis Hotel in 1927, 22 days on a pole above a dance marathon (another endurance fad of the time) in Madison Square Garden, and 23 days in 1929 in Baltimore’s Carlin’s Park on a pole that was 60 feet high. By Kelly’s own calculation, he’d spend around 20,613 hours pole-sitting during a career that lasted over a decade.

His peak came in 1930 when he lasted 49 days and one hour on a 225-foot pole on Atlantic City’s steel pier. The feat was witnessed by as many as 20,000 onlookers during the weeks he spent up top, becoming one of the first of many spectacles that would grace the pier in the 1930s. (He’d eventually be followed by acts like Rex, the water-skiing “wonder dog”; JoJo, the boxing kangaroo; and the city’s infamous diving horse routine.)

Estimates of Kelly’s fees range from $100-$500 a day throughout his career, paid by whatever outlet needed the publicity and sometimes by crowds who spent a quarter to get a view of his act from nearby hotel rooftops. And what did those onlookers see, exactly? A man on a circular padded seat high above the rabble, sometimes reading the paper, other times enjoying a shave. For food, he’d stick mainly to a liquid diet of broth and water, along with cigarettes, all of which were lifted up to him in a bucket. When he needed to sleep, he’d stay seated by wrapping his ankles around the pole and securing his thumbs into holes in his seat before nodding off. That's if he rested at all—he was also known to deprive himself of sleep on the pole for as long as four days.

The big money would dry up soon after his Atlantic City stunt, and the realities of the Great Depression put an end to flagpole sitting as a career. With up to a quarter of the population unemployed, people were apparently less interested in opening their papers to stories of men and women testing endurance at the top of a pole for more money than the readers would likely see all year.

"As Shipwreck Kelly analyzed it, it was the Stock Market crash that killed pole-sitting as the golden egg that paid the goose," a writer for The Evening Sun in Baltimore put it in 1944. "People couldn't stand to see anything higher than their busted securities."

Kelly’s personal story ends on a similarly somber note. Penniless and stripped of his daredevil veneer, he died of a heart attack in 1952 at the age of 59, his body found not far from the room he rented on West 51st Street in New York City. Underneath his arm at the time of his death was a scrapbook of newspaper clippings detailing his accomplishments as a once-champion flagpole sitter.

Though flagpole sitting has fallen out of the public eye since the Depression, it has occasionally shown faint signs of life. In 1963, 17-year-old Alabama native Peggy Townsend cruised past all of Kelly's highest marks by spending 217 days on a pole for a radio contest. That time was later beaten by Kenneth Gidge, who topped her at 248 days in 1971 before becoming an artist, inventor, and New Hampshire state representative later in life.

Today, the occasional pole-sitter still pops up in the news, though they're now most likely perched for protests or as living art installations. Regardless of the purpose behind it, it's unlikely that a person atop a flagpole will ever attract a sea of thousands of onlookers again—and the days when a man like Kelly could become a household name and dub himself the "Luckiest Fool on Earth" seem long gone.

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This Water Bottle Doubles as a Foam Roller
Mobot
Mobot

It hydrates and it massages. The MOBOT bottle, as spotted by Outside magazine, is being billed as “the world’s first and only foam roller water bottle,” and many outdoor and adventure enthusiasts swear by it.

The stainless steel bottle is wrapped in non-toxic EVA (ethylene-vinyl acetate) foam, which can be rolled along your calves, hamstrings, glutes, or arms to soothe sore muscles and relieve joint paint. It was designed with athletes in mind, but we could see it being used by stressed-out office workers with stiff muscles who could benefit from a little self-care. Plus, the lightweight bottle is great for keeping your beverage cold all day, whether you’re at work, at an amusement park, or at the beach. A top loop allows it to be hooked onto a backpack or beach bag.

The bottle is available in three sizes: the 40-ounce “Big Bertha,” the 18-ounce “Firecracker,” and the 27-ounce “Grace.” There’s a range of colors and patterns to choose from, including neon-colored camouflage for those moments when you can’t decide whether you want to stand out or blend in.

You can order it on Amazon, but some styles have already sold out. Check out MOBOT's video below to see different ways of using the bottle.

[h/t Outside]

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