Maddie Dyer

Pepsi-Cola. “This is one of the times to say Pepsi-Cola.” Advertisement. The Tar Heel (Chapel Hill), October 21, 1916.

Pepsi-Cola became an official company in 1902 and by 1903, had an established presence in Chapel Hill. In 1903, Yerby’s Drug Store in Chapel Hill placed an ad in The Tar Heel that mentioned selling Pepsi-Cola.[1] Then on October 5th, 1904, the first Pepsi-Cola advertisement to appear in Orange County was placed in The Tar Heel. This first advertisement simply said, “Drink Pepsi-Cola.”[2] Over time, the Pepsi-Cola advertisements that ran in the newspaper became more detailed and focused on specific audiences. The opening of drug stores, like Yerby’s, throughout the area and the continued advertisement of the drink in The Tar Heel illustrate how Pepsi became the go-to soda for many Chapel Hill residents during this time period.

In a Pepsi-Cola advertisement that was published in The Tar Heel on October 21st, 1916, we can see the company’s advertisements became more complex and targeted as time went on. This particular advertisement was a part of a series of advertisements featured in the newspaper that gave readers examples of the perfect times to drink a Pepsi. The ad features an illustration of women shopping and says, “…when shopping begins to get a little wearisome and bundles grow heavier—that’s the time especially to say PEPSI-Cola.” The stereotypes and gender roles that were associated with women during this time are very visible in this advertisement. The fact that this advertisement was printed in The Tar Heel numerous times shows that these ideas about women were present in Chapel Hill during this era.

While some people are aware of the connection Pepsi-Cola has to North Carolina, many are unaware of the connection the soda has to the Chapel Hill area. The creator of Pepsi-Cola, Caleb Bradham, graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill and later returned to North Carolina and invented Pepsi-Cola at his pharmacy in New Bern. Bradham’s connection to Chapel Hill most certainly contributed to the prominence of the drink in the area. In 1905, the first bottling franchises were established in Charlotte and Durham.[3] Through advertisements and the opening of the franchise in Durham, Bradham was able to establish the presence of the soda in the area. However, the presence of the Pepsi-Cola brand also ended up contributing to the reinforcement of gender roles and stereotypes regarding women.

Even today, the Pepsi-Cola Company is still connected to Chapel Hill and UNC’s campus. At Carolina Dining Halls, only Pepsi products are served due to a contract the school has with Pepsi.[4] With that first advertisement in The Tar Heel in 1904, Pepsi began a long and complicated relationship with the Chapel Hill area.



[1] Yerby’s Drug Store. “Yerby’s Drug Store.” Advertisement. The Tar Heel (Chapel Hill), November 19, 1903.

[2] Pepsi-Cola. “Drink Pepsi-Cola.” Advertisement. The Tar Heel (Chapel Hill), October 05, 1904.

[3] “History of the Birthplace.” The Pepsi Store- The Birthplace of Pepsi-Cola. Accessed November 02, 2018.

[4] Moir, Colleen. “On Campus, Pepsi and Coke Spar.” The Daily Tar Heel. April 9, 2015. Accessed November 02, 2018.