Lens on History: A nickel drink worth a dime

May 16, 2019 GMT

In 1940, the Big 4 Bottling Company of southeastern Minnesota was the local distributor of Pepsi-Cola in Rochester with their base at 609 N. Broadway. 1940 was also the year that Pepsi began a new advertising campaign called “Twice as Much for a Nickel.” It was based on the fact that Coca-Cola was sold in 6-ounce bottles and the new Pepsi bottles were 12 ounces.

This first volley in the “cola wars” was supported with Pepsi’s first radio jingle, which was a big hit all around the country.

When America entered WWII, sugar was one of the first items to be rationed. Because of sugar’s scarcity and higher price, Big 4 Bottling decided to drop Pepsi and focus on their other soft drink brands that came in small bottles — Dr. Pepper and 7-Up.


Pepsi contacted Norman Gillette Sr. of La Crosse, Wis., and Pepsi-Cola has been flowing in Rochester ever since.