Daughter of Gatorade inventor continues in father’s footsteps with Cade Museum for Creativity & Invention
BY BILL LINCICOME
For Phoebe Cade Miles, growing up as the daughter of Dr. James Robert Cade in the 1960s and 1970s was a lot like being in the movie “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.”
She, her five older siblings, and neighborhood kids would wait excitedly for Phoebe’s father to bring home something fascinating, such as a new telescope or even a three-legged dog.
Even berry-picking outings at their Gainesville, Florida, home were adventures. After picking wild berries and plums, father and daughter rode their bikes home and brought their fruity bounty into the Cade kitchen to make jam.
“I learned a lot of chemistry without knowing it was learning chemistry,” she said. “It was super fun. [I’m] soaking this stuff in without even knowing it.”
This began a lifelong journey of what Phoebe calls “inventivity”—a combination of invention and creativity.
A key moment in her journey began in 1965. Dr. Cade was an assistant professor of internal medicine in the University of Florida (UF)’s renal division. He noticed football players seldom urinated during practices in the hot, humid Gainesville summers.
Dr. Cade and his team of researchers, Dr. H. James Free, Dr. Alejandro de Quesada, and Dr. Dana Shires, set out to fix this problem by creating a drink to replenish the electrolytes the players lost during their strenuous workouts.
That drink became Gatorade.
Phoebe said her father believed his invention and others like it could save lives and inspire a community of creativity in America.
Nearly 60 years later, Phoebe and her staff at the Cade Museum for Creativity & Invention in Gainesville work tirelessly to steward her father’s legacy by encouraging innovation for all Americans, especially underserved communities through inventivity.
The Cade Museum was founded in 2006, a year before Dr. Cade’s death. The building opened in 2018. Phoebe said she and her father wanted to inspire innovation in collaborative communities across America.
The word “inventivity” was coined about a dozen years ago by Patty Lipka, a Cade Museum staff member. Phoebe said the word, which received trademark protection in May 2022, is comprised of three character traits:
In one of the museum’s educational outreach programs, children in underserved schools learn about Black innovators who found success in the face of oppression and segregation.
Students learn about Madam C.J. Walker, possibly the first woman to become a self-made millionaire with her hair care products for Black women, and Thomas L. Jennings, a Black man from New York who patented a method of dry scouring that was the predecessor to modern dry-cleaning in 1821. Jennings used proceeds from his invention to help fund growing abolitionist and civil rights movements in New York City.
The museum also hosts the Cade Prize, an annual event in which inventors showcase their ideas relatively early in their innovation journeys. The main idea of the Cade Prize, she said, is to find the next big idea.
“To find the next Gatorade,” she said. “Not just a sports drink; to encourage people that have that idea, to take the next step and try to do something with their idea.”
For the entire story, go to uspto.gov/learning-and-resources/journeys-innovation.