How did Gatorade originate?

John Elway & Denver Broncos
Gatorade Victory Splash

During physical exertion at high temperatures, you can suffer severe dehydration and loss of body salts. If you lost just 2 percent of your body weight because of perspiration, your blood volume could drop, dangerously decreasing your blood pressure. Dehydration can cause fatigue, muscle cramping, decreased coordination, and poor all-around performance.

In the early 1960s, a team of researchers at the University of Florida started a project to develop a product that would rapidly replace the fluid and salts lost during extreme exertion. In 1965, Robert Cade, a kidney researcher and professor of medicine, concocted a formula to combat dehydration. All that was left to do was test the new formula.

Football players lose a great amount of body fluid when practicing and playing games. The researchers decided to test the new formula on 10 members of the University of Florida football team. The name of the team is the "Gators," derived from the word alligator, so it was decided to name the formula "Gatorade."

The football coach, recognizing the value of Gatorade, had his players drink it for the entire season. That year the Gators had a winning season and earned the nickname "the second-half team," because they outplayed all their opponents in the second half of the game. When the Gators whipped Georgia Tech in the 1967 Orange Bowl, the opposing coach said, "We didn't have Gatorade. That made the difference." 'Sports Illustrated' magazine published the coach's remarks. From that time on, more and more football coaches realized that players needed to consume fluids during the game to avoid dehydration.

Robert Cade eventually sold the Gatorade rights to Stokely Van- Kamp, Inc. In 1983, the Quaker Oats Company purchased the rights to Gatorade. At that time, Gatorade came in three flavors, the original Lemon Lime, Orange, and Fruit Punch. There are now about 30 flavors worldwide. In spite of increased competition from about 60 different sports drinks, Gatorade is still the number one sports drink in the United States.

In 1985, Jim Burt, who played for the New York Giants, was the first football player to dump a cooler of Gatorade on a coach when he drenched Bill Parcells. It wasn't until 1989 when a coach retaliated. Steve Spurrier, coach at the University of Florida, crept up behind three unsuspecting players who had doused him the week before and promptly dumped a cooler of Gatorade on them. Whether football players are drinking it or pouring it over their coach's head in a victory celebration, the pale-green Gatorade will probably be part of the football scene for years to come.

To prevent dehydration when exercising, weigh yourself before and after your workout. If you have lost 2 or more pounds, drink 24 ounces of water for each pound you've lost. Drinking a sports drink is better than drinking water when you're working out. Water will quench your thirst but it isn't that good for preventing dehydration. It turns off your thirst before you get all the fluids you need, and it doesn't contain the important electrolytes that you lose when perspiring.

MAKE YOUR OWN: The best way to treat dehydration is to prevent it from occurring. If you suspect excessive fluid loss during and illness, your physician should be notified. Intravenous or oral fluid replacement may be needed, depending on severity of fluid loss. In the 1960's the World Health Organization (WHO) developed an oral solution containing sugar, which improved the absorption of salt/water preparations, saving the lives of many dehydrated persons in remote areas. MedicineNet.com notes that this solution can be prepared at home by mixing the following:

Table Salt - 3/4 teaspoon
Baking Powder - 1 teaspoon
Sugar -4 tablespoons
Orange juice - I cup
Water - I quart/liter

From ... What Makes Flamingos Pink? By Bill McLain
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