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New Bern woman who named Pepsi-Cola to be featured in film

By Valentina Wilson
Published On: Nov 20 2012 08:08:50 PM CST
Updated On: Nov 21 2012 11:33:22 AM CST

Videojournalist Keith Jones wrote this story

Pharmacist Caleb Bradham created Pepsi in New Bern almost 120 years ago. A New Bern native who lives in Washington state plans a full-length feature film on the woman behind the scenes of Pepsi's creation -- Bayard Wootten.

In 1893, pharmacist Caleb Bradham put New Bern on the map with Brad's Drink, a concoction he made in the basement of his Johnson Street home. But it was his neighbor Bayard Wootten who would give Brad's drink the name by which it is known today. Celia Eudy is Bayard Wootten's niece and recalls her aunt's stories of how Pepsi got its name.

"Coca-Cola had already come out," Eudy said. "(Wootten) said tell me what's in the drink without giving away any secrets. And (Bradham) said, well, there's pepsin in it. And she started thinking and said let me work with that, and she came up with Pepsi-Cola, because of the pepsin."

Bayard Wootten was an accomplished artist and photographer and was also asked to design the first logo the newly named drink would be known by.

"(Bradham) said, well write me a logo. So (Wootten) wrote Pepsi-Cola; so she gave it its first name and he liked it and that's what it was," Eudy said.

Anthony Lilly is a screenwriter from New Bern, now living in Seattle, Washington. He has taken an interest in Bayard Wootten's life and is in the process of writing a screenplay that he hopes to turn into a feature-length movie to be shot here.

"What I want to do is bring her back alive again," Lilly said.

Aside from being an artist and naming and designing the first logo for Pepsi, Bayard Wootten was one of the American South's most significant female photographers and women's rights activists.

"If there was any activism going on, women were trying to get any attention, she was there to cover it, document it. She took the first picture from an airplane here in North Carolina for a woman," Lilly said.

Bayard Wootten was an artistic North Carolina pioneer and adventurer. Her photos are present in many museums and galleries, but one of her most famous works adorns one of the most famous soft drinks enjoyed worldwide.