ST. PETERSBURG — You've probably heard the story of Gatorade and its birth at the University of Florida, but did you know the same Dr. Robert Cade behind the electrolyte beverage created a second drink?
It's called Cholesterade and without a Tampa Bay company, it may have stayed in the dark.
The lesser-known Cade beverage never made it to stores during the researcher's lifetime. But James Price, the CEO of St. Petersburg's Go Epic Health, was committed to changing that. Now, the drink is manufactured in Largo and sold in thousands of stores across the country.
"We're very proud to be the ones carrying on Dr. Cade's legacy," Price said.
Cholesterade's story isn't as flashy as Gatorade's — but Price hopes it can one day make just as big of a splash in the beverage market. That's dreaming big: Gatorade sold about $5.9 billion worth of drinks over 2017, according to research firm Euromonitor International.
Cade, a doctor and researcher at the University of Florida, created Gatorade for the UF football team as a secret weapon to battle dehydration in 1965. The drink was soon sold to an Indiana Company and, decades later, acquired by PepsiCo.
After facing high cholesterol of his own in the 1990s, Cade began research that would result in his second drink formula at the university.
"He took statin drugs and the side effects were horrendous for him," Price said, referring to drugs prescribed to lower cholesterol.
Cade came up with a powder that could be mixed into water or juice that's high in soluble fiber: about 7 grams of dietary fiber per serving. Cade ran an eight-week trial that showed promising results. He gave rights to a start-up to produce the beverage before he died at age 80 in 2007.
Price, an investment banker, was one of the first backers. But with the stock market crash of 2008 and the following recession, the company floundered for years. By 2017, Price was given the chance to take over Cholesterade, renegotiate terms with the Cade family and finally get the drink to the public.
The product is not approved by the Food and Drug Administration. But Cade's own study, one done at Harvard in 1999, and ongoing trials show promising results, Price said.
The participants testing out Cholesterade aren't much like the young Gators who tested Cade's first drink.
One doctor is working with about 200 women in The Villages, a retirement community. Another is seeking out participants for a year-long study at the Mid-South Center for Prevention and Wellness in Memphis.
In August 2018, Price put up an exhibition about Cholesterade at the Cade Museum in Gainesville. He also has 2 percent royalty agreement with the Cade Family Trust.
The powder mix is sold on Amazon and in about 5,000 stores already, with plans for 3,000 more over the next few months. In 2018, Price said Go Epic Health posted about $500,000 in sales. He projects sales in the millions over 2019.
Although he's been able to work out deals with grocers such as Albertsons and Wegmans he's still working to reach one Florida pinnacle: Publix.
He's already dreaming of hosting in-store taste tests.
Times senior news researcher Caryn Baird contributed to this story. Contact Sara DiNatale at [email protected] Follow @sara_dinatale.