In 1965, University of Florida (UF) football coach Dwayne Douglas noticed that his players were losing a lot of weight during training and games, some up to 18 pounds (8.1 kilograms)! They weren't urinating, despite drinking a lot of water, and players were suffering from heat stroke. Douglas teamed up with Dr. Robert Cade -- a kidney disease specialist at UF -- to talk the problem out. Cade worked with UF's College of Medicine to develop a drink to replenish what these athletes were losing through their sweat: carbohydrates (aka sugar), salt and electrolytes. Electrolytes are a set of minerals that your body needs to maintain healthy fluid levels and regulate its muscle function [source: MedlinePlus].
By the time Cade -- the drink's inventor -- was ready to test his concoction, the Gators (the UF football team) had a new coach: Ray Graves. Cade and his research team formulated a drink that was essentially water with salt and sugar in it. Makes sense, right? Your salt and sugar are depleted, so drinking a salty, sugary drink should help get things back in balance.
The only problem was that the drink was disgusting, so Cade's wife proposed adding lemon juice to make it a little more palatable. In 1966, the Gators started drinking Gatorade during hot summer practices and not only did the weight loss problem improve, but they also saw a significant drop in the number of players hospitalized for heat exhaustion. Cade also credited the drink with his team's 8-2 record that season [source: Kays].
In the fall of 1967, Stokely-Van Camp Co. became Gatorade's distributor until it was acquired by Quaker Oats in 1983. Pepsi -- which acquired Quaker Oats in 2001 -- now produces and markets Gatorade, but the UF has made more than $100 million from the drink since Cade invented it back in 1965 [sources: Gordon, Kays]. In 2011 alone, Gatorade and its sub-brand G2 made $1.3 billion in sales, and that's just one of a myriad of sports drinks on the market today [source: Edwards]. There's also Powerade (made by Coca-Cola), vitaminwater, Muscle Milk, Propel and Mio Energy.
Even Gatorade has branched out with new varieties over the years, rebranding itself as "G" and adding sub-brands like the low-calorie G2 and Gatorade Recover.