In a basement lab in 1965, a University of Florida nephrologist and three of his research fellows worked through the night trying to get the sodium and glucose mixture just right.
The midnight science had started off with a simple enough question: Why did athletes lose so much weight on the field? And how did it affect their performance?After collecting samples from football players on the 1965 UF football team, Dr. Robert Cade and his three fellows made a startling observation: Athletes were losing electrolytes and their blood sugar was dropping significantly during the course of a game.
According Cade’s calculations, his basement-brewed concoction would hydrate athletes, meanwhile increasing the body’s rate of absorption to restore electrolytes lost during sports and activity. Add in a little lemon juice for taste and a little drink known as Gatorade was born. Armed with Gatorade, the 1966 football team went 8-2 and observant reporters took note of the beverage in players’ cups. By 1967, Gatorade had gone commercial and was on NFL sidelines. Gatorade spawned a multimillion-dollar sports beverage industry and has become a staple for parents and pediatricians, too, by helping to keep sick children hydrated. Since its invention in 1965, UF has received more than $150 million in royalties from Gatorade, and these dollars have helped fund numerous initiatives within the UF College of Medicine.