The late Dr. James Robert Cade, lead inventor behind Gatorade, was honored with the Great Floridian award Thursday, which would have been his 86th birthday.
The Cade Museum in Gainesville, where the ceremony was held, is a science and mechanical museum meant to foster creativity in children.
University of Florida President Bernie Machen and Gov. Rick Scott were in attendance. Scott, who presented the award, hopes it will bring attention to the facility and the man behind the success story.
“What this hopefully will do is create a lot of publicity for the Cade Museum,” Scott said. “(Cade) cared about people, he wanted to solve problems, he cared about this university, but he also cared about trying to make the whole state and the whole world a better place, and that’s what he did.”
Gatorade got its start from Cade in 1965 when it was developed in the UF chemistry lab to hydrate the Florida football team in the sweltering heat. Since its introduction, Cade’s invention has had a 75 to 80 percent market share in the sports beverage market.
Cade’s daughter, Phoebe, said her father always had a new adventure in store. Her father was more than just the inventor of Gatorade: He was also a family man who took joy in sharing the discovery of science. Her father’s passion instilled in her a lifelong interest in science, she said.
“It was just a great household to grow up in because there was always something exciting going on,” Phoebe Cade said. “He would explain things to us and do things with us. It gave me a love for a science that I’ve never given up.”
Cade, who was the only one honored with a Great Floridian award, was not alone in his endeavor. Machen said Cade would want the development of Gatorade to be known as a team effort.
“As (Cade) would likely point out if he were here, it wasn’t just him that did it,” Machen said. “When no one would drink it because it tasted so terrible, it was Mary Cade who said, ‘Why don’t you add lemon juice to make this stuff palatable?’”
Gatorade continues to be an important part of UF’s operations today. Some of the royalties from Gatorade, now owned by PepsiCo Inc., fund research in the UF Department of Medicine, and have financed UF research in numerous fields, from wildlife ecology to marine biology.
Cade’s widow, Mary, along with his daughter Phoebe, received the award on his behalf as friends and family looked on. Phoebe Cade announced a larger museum will be built to replace the current one in 2015. Construction will be funded by private donors, an Alachua County bed tax and from Gatorade itself.
As people sang at the Cade Museum, they celebrated a man who first hydrated a
football team, but became so much more: a brand, and a legacy, that lives on.