Your Florida Daily: The origin of Gatorade

New podcast episode spotlights the invention of Gatorade at the University of Florida

2007: American physician Robert Cade, who led the research team that formulated Gatorade while working as a professor at the University of Florida in 1965, dies of kidney failure at the age of 80 in Gainesville, Florida. Freshman football player Chip Hinton is seen in this photograph drinking an early version of Dr. Cade's breakthrough sports drink.

ORLANDO, Fla. – Oh, Florida.

The beaches, theme parks, road-side citrus stops, mermaids, manatees, alligators, space-ships, lifted trucks, brutally hot summers and the people.

Despite its modern-day reputation for producing viral news stories about the crazy antics of Florida man and Florida woman, Florida is called home to some really important people, including artists, scientists, athletes, and some of the greatest inventors.

Producer Katrina Scales is diving deeper into some of her favorite random Florida facts from 2022.

On this episode of Your Florida Daily: a former UF football players shares his experience being one of the “guinea pigs” for Dr. Cade’s groundbreaking concoction.

Listen below:

Today, Gatorade is the official drink of nearly every sports league you can think of, however, the the drink sold in stores is very different from the concoction Dr. Robert Cade invented in the mid 1960′s.

The earliest version of the drink contained a mixture of water, sodium, sugar, potassium and phosphate.

If that sounds gross, according to a former University of Florida football player—it was.

“Took one taste of it and said ‘this tastes like piss’ and put it over his head,” says Chip Hinton, a 1969 UF graduate and retired Florida agriculture executive.

As one of the freshman football players who volunteered as a so-called Gatorade “guinea pig,” Chip Hinton says he just happened to be in the right place at the right time.

“It was good old Dr. Cade who came to Ray Graves and asked if he could use his team for the as guinea pigs and Ray said you can’t use my varsity, but I’ll let you have my freshman team. And that’s sort of how it happened.”

Dr. Cade was working to create a drink that would replenish carbohydrates while student athletes were sweating out fluids on the field during games.

Unfortunately, the drink didn’t taste good. But, according to Hinton, Dr. Cade’s wife had an idea: adding lemon juice.

“So they were up all night, squeezing lemons. The next time we tasted it improved a little bit. Over a period of time, they they did improve the taste to where it was palatable,” Hinton says.

“And then of course, we started winning football.”

In 1967, the UF Gators beat the number six team, Georgia Tech, in the Orange Bowl with a 27-12 victory.

“[Georgia Tech] coach Bobby Dodd, after the games said ‘it wasn’t fair, they had Gatorade.’ Then I guess the rest was history from that point on.”

But Hinton says Dr. Cade didn’t stop there. He later developed a cocktail called “Hoppin’ Gator,” which was essentially Gatorade and beer with 25% more alcohol than regular beer.

“Very popular in Gainesville,” Hinton says.

Hoppin’ Gator was short-lived.

In 1983, the Quaker Oats Company bought Gatorade after a bidding war with Pillsbury and was later acquired by Pepsi-Co.

In a 2003 Gatorade commercial, Chip reunited with Dr. Cade to market the drink’s purported record of being a game-winning fuel for the world’s most accomplished athletes.

Hinton says the company lured him with the opportunity of seeing some old friends.

“It’s been a been a great ride and this opened a lot of doors for me. It worked out pretty well” says Hinton.

It worked out pretty well for the University of Florida too, which has received over $250 million royalties as of 2015, according to UF.

Inventor Dr. Cade passed away from kidney failure in 2007 and was later bestowed the honor of “Great Floridian” at the Cade Museum in Gainesville.

Stay tuned for more special episodes of Your Florida Daily this week. Listen every weekday on, Apple Podcasts or Spotify.

About the Author:

Katrina Scales is a producer for the News 6+ Takeover at 3:30 p.m. She also writes and voices the podcast Your Florida Daily. Katrina was born and raised in Brevard County and started her journalism career in radio before joining News 6 in June 2021.