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Robert Cade

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Robert Cade
Cade in the 1960s
Born(1927-09-26)September 26, 1927
San Antonio, Texas, United States
DiedNovember 27, 2007(2007-11-27) (aged 80)
Alma materB.S., University of Texas, 1950
M.D., Southwestern Medical, 1954
  • Physician
  • professor
  • scientist
  • inventor
Known forInvention of Gatorade
SpouseMary Strasburger
ChildrenMichael, Stephen, Martha, Celia, Emily & Phoebe
Scientific career
InstitutionsUniversity of Florida

James Robert Cade (September 26, 1927 – November 27, 2007) was an American physician, university professor, research scientist and inventor. Cade, a native of Texas, earned his bachelor and medical degrees at the University of Texas, and became a professor of medicine and nephrology at the University of Florida. Although Cade engaged in many areas of medical research, he is most widely remembered as the leader of the research team that created the sports drink Gatorade.[1] Gatorade would have significant medical applications for treating dehydration in patients, and has generated over $150 million in royalties for the university.

In his later years, Cade became a prominent philanthropist, donating significant sums to charities affiliated with the Lutheran Church, creating scholarships and donating freely to the University of Florida and other colleges and universities, and endowing his own charitable foundations.

Early life and education


Robert Cade was born in San Antonio, Texas, on September 26, 1927.[2] He was a fourth-generation Texan.[3] Cade took an early interest in athletics and ran the mile in four minutes, twenty seconds at Brackenridge High School,[2] a very respectable time for a high school athlete in the early 1940s.[4] He graduated from Brackenridge High School in May 1945 and joined the U.S. Navy. He served for three years and was stationed at Naval Medical Research Unit Four in Dublin, Georgia (1 year), the destroyer USS Gherardi (1+12 years) and the cruiser USS Rochester. He completed his service in September 1948 with the rank of pharmacist's mate third class.[5]

After being discharged from the navy, he enrolled in the University of Texas.[6] He completed four years of undergraduate coursework in two calendar years, and graduated with his bachelor's degree in 1950. He was also a member of the Delta Upsilon fraternity while at the University of Texas.[7] In 1953, he married Mary Strasburger, a nurse from Dallas, Texas, whom he had met while he was in medical school.[8][9] After graduating with his doctor of medicine degree from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School in Dallas in 1954, Cade completed his internship at the Saint Louis City Hospital in Saint Louis, Missouri and did his residency at Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas.[6] He also served fellowships at his alma mater, Southwestern Medical School, and Cornell University Medical College in New York City.[6] In 1961, Cade joined the faculty of the University of Florida College of Medicine in Gainesville, Florida, as an assistant professor of internal medicine in its renal division.[2][10]

Invention of Gatorade


In 1965, Cade was approached by Dewayne Douglas, an assistant coach for the Florida Gators football team, about the extreme dehydration faced by Gator football players practicing in the high temperatures and humidity of the Deep South in late summer and early fall.[11] Douglas questioned Cade why his football players did not urinate during practice and games.[11] Cade learned from anecdotal evidence that football players were losing water through perspiration and failing to replace fluid during practice and games.[11] Cade's research team discovered that football players were losing up to 18 pounds (8.2 kilograms) during the three hours of a college football game, and that ninety to ninety-five percent of that loss was water.[6] A player's plasma volume could decrease as much as seven percent and blood volume by five percent, and sodium and chloride were excreted in the sweat.[6]

During 1965 and 1966, Cade, together with his team of research doctors Dana Shires, James Free, and Alejandro M. de Quesada, conducted a series of trial-and-error experiments with his glucose-and-electrolytes rehydration drink on members of the Gators football team of coach Ray Graves, first with members of the freshman squad, and after initially promising results, with starting members of the varsity team.[1] "It didn't taste like Gatorade," Cade said in a 1988 interview with Florida Trend magazine.[2] In fact, according to Cade, when Gators lineman Larry Gagner first tried it, he spat it out and strongly suggested that the original experimental formula tasted more like bodily waste.[2][12] Dana Shires remembered that "it sort of tasted like toilet bowl cleaner."[13] To make it more palatable, at the suggestion of Cade's wife, the researchers added lemon juice and cyclamate[14] to the original formula of water, salt, sodium citrate, fructose and monopotassium phosphate.[13]

Cade appeared in "The Legend of Gatorade" television commercials narrated by long-time college football announcer Keith Jackson in 2005,[15] during which Cade declared, "Naturally, we called our stuff Gatorade."[16] However, the rehydration drink was first known as "Cade's Ade"[17] and "Cade's Cola" to the Florida Gators football team, and only later became known as "Gatorade."[13] The drink received its first real test in the Gators' 1965 game against the LSU Tigers football team; the Tigers faded in the 102 °F (39 °C) heat of the second half and the Gators did not.[2] Coach Graves was convinced, and asked Cade to produce enough of his potion for all Gator games. Gatorade achieved national prominence as a result of the Gators' first Orange Bowl title over the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets in January 1967.[13] The Gators reinforced their reputation as a "second-half team" and came from behind to defeat the Yellow Jackets 27–10.[18] Afterward, Georgia Tech head coach Bobby Dodd told reporters: "We didn't have Gatorade; that made the difference."[13]

Cade patented the formula and offered all the rights to the drink to the University of Florida in exchange for the university's backing of the production and marketing of the drink, but the university turned down his proposal.[19] He initially obtained bank financing and began to produce "Gatorade" through his own business, but later entered into a contract with Stokely-Van Camp, Inc. to produce and sell the drink.[14] When sales royalties reached $200,000, the university took notice.[20] The Florida Board of Regents, prompted by the U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare, which had provided Cade with a small grant for his research, asked for the patent rights.[21] Cade refused.[20] The Board of Regents, acting on behalf of the university, then brought suit against Cade for a share of the profits,[21] arguing that the university's facilities, employees and students were instrumental in the development of the product.[20][22] After thirty-one months of legal wrangling, Cade and the university negotiated a settlement of their dispute in 1972,[20] and the Board of Regents and the university settled for a twenty percent share of the royalties.[22] Cade, and his investors in the Gatorade Trust, retained eighty percent. In the aftermath of the settlement, Cade and the university resolved their differences amicably, and expanded their professional relationships—of the first $70,500 in Gatorade royalties received by the university, the university reinvested $999,999 in kidney research by Cade's renal department and another $12,000 in Cade's other research projects.[23] Cade, for his part, created multiple scholarships and contributed generously to the university from his own royalties over the following years.



Up to 2007, the University of Florida has received over $150 million from its share of the Gatorade royalties.[20][24][25] As of 2015, this total has increased to $281 million.[26] Cade and his associates' share of the royalties is undisclosed, the majority of their rights having been sold to Stokely-Van Camp.[20] After the settlement, Cade continued to work for the university, and the college of medicine named him professor emeritus of nephrology upon his retirement in 2004. In April 2007, several months before his death, the University Athletic Association inducted Cade into the University of Florida Athletic Hall of Fame as an "honorary letter winner."[20][27]

Gatorade, now owned by PepsiCo, is today sold in some eighty countries and over fifty various flavors.[13] In contrast to the forty-three dollars that Cade and his team spent to make the first experimental batch of Gatorade in 1965,[13] Gatorade prompted the evolution of a multibillion-dollar sports drink industry in the years that followed; as of 2007, over seven billion bottles of Gatorade were being sold annually in the United States.[28] While he was surprised by its commercial success as a sports drink,[6] Cade took greater pride in Gatorade's use in hospitals, in post-operative recovery and to treat diarrhea-related dehydration in infants and young children.[29] Cade's other research included hypertension, exercise physiology, autism, schizophrenia and kidney disease.[13] His research into carbo-loading substantiated the early claims of Swedish researchers, and he also invented a hydraulic football helmet that substantially reduced the risk of concussion to football players.[28][30]

Cade was an active, lifelong member of the Lutheran church, and he was recognized by the church with its Wittenberg Award in 1991.[9] He gave generously to many Lutheran colleges and organizations.[9] In their later years, Cade and his wife established the Gloria Dei Foundation, an organization that makes grants to aid the "poor and underserved."[9]

Cade was a talented violinist who sometimes played with local symphony orchestras.[13] Cade acquired collections of more than thirty violins and more than sixty vintage Studebaker automobiles.[9][31][32] He and his wife continued to live in the same Gainesville house that they owned before the financial success of Gatorade.[20] On November 27, 2007, Cade died of kidney failure, at the age of 80, in Gainesville.[6] He was survived by his wife Mary, their six children, twenty grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.[2]

The Cade Museum Foundation, established in 2004 and chaired by Cade's daughter, Phoebe Cade Miles,[33] announced in 2010 that it had begun raising funds to construct a new building for the Cade Museum in Gainesville, with a groundbreaking planned for 2015. The museum opened in May 2018.[34]

On September 26, 2013, Florida Governor Rick Scott posthumously honored Cade as a "Great Floridian" during a ceremony at the Cade Museum.[35] The award honors those people who made "major contributions to the progress and welfare" of Florida.[35]

See also



  1. ^ a b Arline Phillips-Han, "Dr. Robert Cade . . . saga of the world's best-selling sports drink and the creative physician scientist behind it," Health Science Center News, University of Florida (February 24, 2003). Retrieved December 10, 2014.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Douglas Martin, "J. Robert Cade, the Inventor of Gatorade, Dies at 80," The New York Times (November 28, 2007). Retrieved December 10, 2014.
  3. ^ Samuel Proctor, Dr. James Robert Cade Interview, Samuel Proctor Oral History Project, George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida, page 4 (1996). Retrieved December 10, 2014.
  4. ^ By way of comparison, Roger Bannister, a British track and field athlete who was the world record-holder in the mile run in the early 1950s and the first to run the mile in less than four minutes, did not do so until 1954.
  5. ^ Proctor, Cade Interview, pp. 4–9.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g Associated Press, "Inventor of Gatorade dies at 80," USA Today (November 27, 2007). Retrieved December 10, 2014.
  7. ^ Proctor, Cade Interview, pages 11–14, 16.
  8. ^ Proctor, Cade Interview, page 15.
  9. ^ a b c d e The Cade Museum for Innovation and Invention, The History, A Man, A Team, An Idea + A Drink: Dr. J. Robert Cade. Retrieved December 10, 2014
  10. ^ Proctor, Cade Interview, pp. 39–43.
  11. ^ a b c Michael McLeod, "Gator-made," Orlando Sentinel (August 14, 2005). Retrieved February 17, 2010.
  12. ^ Proctor, Cade Interview, pp. 68–69.
  13. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Robert Cade: Scientist who invented Gatorade, the world's first and biggest-selling sports drink," The Times (November 29, 2007). Retrieved December 14, 2014.
  14. ^ a b Richard Burnett, "Gatorade Inventor: My Success Based On Sweat And Luck," Orlando Sentinel (April 16, 1994). Retrieved February 16, 2010. Other sweeteners were substituted in 1970, when the federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) banned cyclamate as a potential carcinogen.
  15. ^ Dan Wetzel, "Gatorade's secret formula Archived 2007-08-08 at the Wayback Machine," Yahoo Sports! (September 22, 2005). Retrieved February 18, 2010.
  16. ^ See "The Legend of Gatorade" on YouTube (long version of commercial without Keith Jackson narration) Youtube.com (2005). Retrieved February 18, 2010.
  17. ^ Samuel Proctor & Wright Langley, Gator History: A Pictorial History of the University of Florida, South Star Publishing Company, Gainesville, Florida, p. 150 (1986).
  18. ^ College Football Data Warehouse, All-Time Coaching Records, Ray Graves 1966 Archived October 7, 2012, at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved February 19, 2010.
  19. ^ Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Inventor of the Week Archive, Inventor of the Week: Robert Cade. Retrieved December 10, 2014.
  20. ^ a b c d e f g h Dave Curtis, "[1]," Orlando Sentinel (April 14, 2007). Retrieved July 12, 2022.
  21. ^ a b Julian M. Pleasants, Gator Tales: An Oral History of the University of Florida, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida, pp. 129–130 (2006).
  22. ^ a b Proctor & Langley, Gator History, p. 55.
  23. ^ "Gatorade To Aid UF Research," St. Petersburg Times, p. 12B (February 8, 1973). Retrieved March 22, 2010.
  24. ^ Jack Stripling, "Dr. Robert Cade, Gatorade inventor, dies at 80," The Gainesville Sun (November 27, 2007). Retrieved December 10, 2014.
  25. ^ The University of Florida has since become one of the largest public research universities in the United States, and derives significant annual income from the patent royalties generated by the inventions of its professors and other research staff. See, e.g., Mike Thomas, "Gator Aid: What UF Is Thirsty For," Orlando Sentinel (May 7, 1989). Retrieved December 10, 2014.
  26. ^ "Royalties for Gatorade inventors surpass $1B". ESPN.com. October 1, 2015. Retrieved October 14, 2022.
  27. ^ F Club, Hall of Fame, Honorary Letterwinners. Retrieved December 10, 2014.
  28. ^ a b Neil Amdur, "Raise a Glass to the Father of Energy Drinks," The New York Times (December 2, 2007). Retrieved December 10, 2014.
  29. ^ Charles Fishman, "A Few Moments With . . . Robert Cade, The Man Who Made Gatorade And Helped Save Us From Heat Stroke," Orlando Sentinel (May 24, 1992). Retrieved December 10, 2014.
  30. ^ Proctor, Cade Interview, pp. 101–103.
  31. ^ Lauren Gold, "UF music students benefit from Gatorade inventor Cade's legacy Archived December 10, 2014, at the Wayback Machine," The Gainesville Sun (October 8, 2009). Retrieved December 10, 2014.
  32. ^ Proctor, Cade Interview, pp. 109–114.
  33. ^ The Cade Museum for Innovation and Invention, Cade Museum Board Archived December 11, 2014, at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved December 10, 2014.
  34. ^ Johnson, Dennis (May 21, 2018). "Cade Museum Opens In Gainesville As Hub For Invention". WUFT News. Retrieved June 6, 2020.
  35. ^ a b Shannon Chernoff, "Gatorade Inventor Honored With Great Floridian Award," WUFT (September 27, 2013). Retrieved December 10, 2014.


  • Golenbock, Peter, Go Gators! An Oral History of Florida's Pursuit of Gridiron Glory, Legends Publishing, LLC, St. Petersburg, Florida (2002). ISBN 0-9650782-1-3.
  • Hairston, Jack, Tales from the Gator Swamp: A Collection of the Greatest Gator Stories Ever Told, Sports Publishing, LLC, Champaign, Illinois (2002). ISBN 1-58261-514-4.
  • Pleasants, Julian M., Gator Tales: An Oral History of the University of Florida, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida (2006). ISBN 0-8130-3054-4.
  • Proctor, Samuel, Dr. James Robert Cade Interview, Samuel Proctor Oral History Project, George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida (1996).
  • Proctor, Samuel, & Wright Langley, Gator History: A Pictorial History of the University of Florida, South Star Publishing Company, Gainesville, Florida (1986). ISBN 0-938637-00-2.
  • Rovell, Darren, First In Thirst: How Gatorade Turned The Science of Sweat Into A Cultural Phenomenon, Amacom Books, New York, New York (2006). ISBN 0-8144-7299-0.