We all understand the importance of hydration. While water is the primary and most logical form of hydration. Drinks like Gatorade contain electrolytes, and sugar is efficient in replacing the micronutrients we lose during exercise. But did you know the iconic sports drink was not always appreciated?
When Gatorade was invented, the football coach wouldn’t let the researchers use their varsity team to try the drink on. They only allowed testing the product on freshmen who were not allowed to play according to the rules of the NCAA.
How Did Gatorade Start?
Dr. J Robert Cade, a medical researcher and a kidney specialist was determined to figure out how to keep athletes from wilting under the hot sun. Dewayne Douglas, the assistant football coach of the football team, asked Cade a simple question, and the rest was history.
Douglas asked Cade why did his players stop sweating and peeing during practice. This query sparked Cade’s interest, and he got started on the research. Cade started the nephrology department in the University of Florida’s College of Medicine. His research team went to work to figure out how to replace fluids and electrolytes the players were sweating out.
While there are different versions of the story, Douglas and Cade are no longer around to confirm which one was more accurate. The bottom line is the two men were the key individuals in the conception of the iconic sports drink. (Source: Gainesville)
How Was The Research Conducted?
Douglas and Cade set up a meeting with the head coach of the team, Ray Graves. They tried to explain their goal and why they needed to test the drink with actual players.
Well, I don’t know much about what you’re talking about, but I have no objection if you want to study the freshman football team. It’s OK with me but keep your hands off my Varsity.Ray Graves, Head Coach, University of Florida Football Team
That summer Cade, along with his research team, conducted their study on ten freshmen. The team, including Richard Cunningham, James Free, and Alejandro de Quesada, collected blood and urine samples from the players. They monitored the electrolyte and lipid levels.
They would bring urine and blood samples to me to run tests on to see what the difference was in various time frames, whether they were consuming the Gatorade or not. We were looking at the sodium and potassium they were putting out through their urine or blood content.Loren Roby, Lab Technician
The evidence pointed to massive electrolyte and fluid loss. Back in those days, it was already common for players to take in salt tablets and not water in fear of cramping. Cade and the team then formulated a concoction that consisted of water, sodium, potassium, phosphate, and sugar. The drink was given to the freshmen players. (Source: Gainesville)
How Did the First Batch of Gatorade Taste Like?
The initial batch of Gatorade was horrible. Players spit it out while others vomited. They said it tasted like urine or toilet bowl cleaner.
It certainly wasn’t anything you could talk about. We said it tasted like sweat but we were being kind. It was unpalatable.Chip Hinton, Freshman Linebacker
Mary Cade, the wife of Dr. Robert Cade, suggested adding a little lemon juice and cyclamate to the drink. She was very involved in the process, and Hinton could even recall how much she tried to improve the drink’s flavor. (Source: Gainesville)