Florida professor who invented Gatorade dies at 80

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MIAMI, Nov 27 (Reuters) The retired Florida professor who invented Gatorade, the hydrating drink that created a multibillion-dollar sports beverage market, died today at age 80, the University of Florida said.

Dr. Robert Cade created the drink in 1965 to help rehydrate the school's athletes during games in Florida's punishing heat and named it after the university's mascot, the gator.

Gatorade became a worldwide success and spawned a generation of copycat sports beverages. It held an 81 percent share of the 7.5 billion dollars US sports drink market last year, according to Beverage Digest.

It has earned about 150 million dollars in royalties for the school, including an average of 12.5 million dollars annually over the last five years, university spokesman Tom Fortner said.

''Dr. Cade died peacefully this morning,'' Fortner said.

Cade, a former professor of medicine and physiology, signed a marketing deal decades ago and when the drink started selling, the university asked for rights, but Cade refused, according to published reports.

The university sued and eventually the parties reached an agreement to share profits. Gatorade is now owned by Pepsico Inc .

The drink became part of US sports and marketing legend.

In the 1980s, players started dousing their winning coaches with buckets of Gatorade, a tradition that endured.

''Gatorade is a phenomenon,'' said John Sicher, editor and publisher of Beverage Digest. ''It is one of the strongest and best performing brands in the US beverage business.'' ''It created the market for sports drinks. It was really a brilliant, brilliant invention,'' he said.

According to the product's Web site, a university assistant football coach asked a team of scientists at the school to determine why players were being affected by heat-related illnesses.

Cade and his colleagues determined that fluids and electrolytes lost through sweat and carbohydrates used for energy were not being replaced.

They created a carbohydrate-electrolyte formula in the lab to nourish the players during games. University legend has it that the Gators football team began winning soon after the drink was introduced.

Reuters AK VP0250

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