Celebrating the Gatorade legacy at the University of Florida
Gatorade continues to help define the UF College of Medicine.
For many years, a handwritten sign hung on the door of Dr. Robert Cade’s lab in the basement of the UF Health Science Center.
“Home of Gatorade, handmade by licensed physicians.”
The 50th anniversary of Gatorade’s landmark discovery was celebrated last fall in full force. It included an iconic commercial from the beverage company, an ESPN documentary, commemorative bottles and a university-wide event in Gainesville honoring the Gatorade inventors and the legacy of their creation.
It was 1965 when Cade and his three research fellows in the department of nephrology, H. James Free, MD ’60, Dana Shires, MD ’61, and Alejandro de Quesada, MD, set out to answer a simple question posed by a friend in the cafeteria at UF Health Shands (then, Shands Hospital). Dwayne Douglas, security chief for the hospital as well as a coach with the UF football team, asked if the doctors could explain why his players couldn’t urinate and were getting sick after playing in the brutal Florida heat.
“Why don’t you guys come over and look at our problem and see if you can make some suggestions,” Douglas told them, according to Shires.
What happened after that is UF history — told in last year’s “30 for 30 Shorts: The Sweat Solution” on ESPN and described by legendary sportscaster Keith Jackson in a 2002 commercial. It also is recounted in laboratories across the UF campus, as royalties from the sale of Gatorade have funded thousands of research projects over the years.
Hear Dr. Cade discuss Gatorade and Florida football
“The Gatorade legacy is stronger than ever at the University of Florida, most specifically at the College of Medicine,” said UF College of Medicine Dean Michael L. Good, MD, at the Oct. 1 Gatorade gala, which attracted university officials, executives from Gatorade, members of the Gatorade Trust and former Gator football players who were the original test subjects for the sports drink formula.
“Dr. Cade and his team not only invented a revolutionary beverage,” Good said, “they helped create an environment at UF where curiosity and innovation are encouraged. And what inspires that spirit is the potential of each discovery to change people’s lives forever.”
“For the millions of dollars in royalties that fund research,” Good continued, “and for the example of ingenuity they have entrusted to us, we owe a huge debt of gratitude to the Gatorade inventors.”
Hear Dr. Free discuss how Gatorade got its name
June 1, 1965Born in the Lab
In early summer of 1965, a University of Florida assistant coach sat down with a team of university physicians and asked them to determine why so many of his players were being affected by heat and heat related illnesses.
June 30, 1965Proven on the Field
Soon after the researchers introduced their Gatorade formula to the team, the Gators began winning… outlasting a number of heavily favored opponents in the withering heat and finishing the season at 7–4.
July 2, 1969Orange Bowl to Super Bowl
In the summer of 1969, Coach Ray Graves of the Florida Gators suggested to the Kansas City Chiefs that they use Gatorade to combat the staggering effects of a blistering Missouri sun during training camp. The Chiefs were so impressed with the “Gator coach's aid” that they kept it on their sidelines throughout the entire season.
June 9, 2016Today & Tomorrow
From the lab testing of athletes, to new flavor and delivery system development, to the publication and distribution of scientific research, the Gatorade Company and the GSSI perpetually strive to advance their collective mission of enabling athletes to always perform at their peak.