Monday, April 22, 2024

The full form of “Pepsi” is not “Pay Every Penny to Save Israel”

There’s a longstanding internet claim suggesting that “PEPSI” stands for “Pay Every Penny to Save Israel.” This claim implies that the term originally evolved from “PEPCI,” meaning “Pay Every Penny to Create Israel.”


Check out some of the Facebook posts with the media making the same claim here (archive), here (archive), here (archive), here (archive) & here (archive).

Fact Check

The Rumor Scanner team’s research into the history of Pepsi and its supposed connection to Israel reveals that this interpretation of the term “PEPSI” is baseless. The name “Pepsi” doesn’t have any such full form, and there’s no evidence to suggest it evolved from “Pepci.”

Origin of the Claim

A 2019 report titled ‘Really, What Happened to Your ‘Pay Every Pence to Save Israel?’ from the US-based Policy Institute Middle East Forum, written by Turkish journalist Burak Bekdil, refers to this interpretation of “Pepsi” as a conspiracy theory. He first came across this theory in the 1980s and encountered it again among Muslim peers while studying in England in the 1990s.

Furthermore, The Jewish Chronicle, in a report from September 22, indicates that this idea about PEPSI’s full form has been circulating since the 1980s. Originally, it was a rumor among school students in the Arab world, but it later spread to university students, Turkish journalists, and various Arab media platforms.

A 2008 video report from the Middle East Media Research Institute features an interview with Hamas MP Salem Salamah, who suggests that the full form of “Pepsi” stands for “Pay Every Penny to Save Israel.” 

In a 2009 video report from the same institution, Egyptian Cleric Hazem Abu Ismail makes a similar claim. From the report, it’s understood that Egyptian religious leader Hazem Abu Ismail claimed on the Egyptian channel Al Nas TV that the acronym PEPSI stands for “Pay Every Penny to Save Israel.”

However, no sources have been cited to support these claims.

Is there an actual acronym for PEPSI?

Upon investigation, the Rumor Scanner team looked into the history of Pepsi’s foundation and its naming. The Pepsi Store’s website features an article titled “THE BIRTHPLACE OF PEPSI” that chronicles the brand’s history.

It’s learned that in 1898, local pharmacist Caleb Bradham from New Bern, North Carolina, USA, invented the original formula for Pepsi-Cola. Initially, it was called “Brad’s Drink”. The beverage was made from ingredients like sugar, water, caramel, cola nuts, etc.

The website does not provide any information regarding the full form of the word “Pepsi.” Neither does it explain the transition from the name “Pepci” to “Pepsi”. However, it does offer insights into various slogans and taglines used by Pepsi over the years.

For instance, in 1903, Pepsi’s tagline was “Exhilarating, Invigorating, Aids Digestion”. In 1906, Pepsi’s slogan was “The Original Pure Food Drink”. In 1909, racing enthusiast Barney Oldfield endorsed Pepsi in an advertisement as “A bully drink…refreshing, invigorating, a fine bracer before a race”. By 1920, Pepsi’s theme line was “Drink Pepsi-Cola, it will satisfy you”.

Further research into Pepsi’s naming found in the FAQ section of PepsiCo’s website reveals that the drink’s inventor originally sold it under the name “Brad’s Drink”. Later, he acquired the name “Pep-Cola” from a local competitor and rebranded it as “Pepsi-Cola”.

There’s another perspective regarding Pepsi’s naming. Since Bradham was a pharmacist, he was mindful of the health benefits of his beverage. He had included the enzyme pepsin and cola nuts in its formulation. This might have influenced the name. Given the inventor’s background, this theory seems plausible.

In analyzing Pepsi’s history, naming, and its promotional strategies, there’s no evidence linking it with Israel or suggesting that PEPSI stands for “Pay Every Penny to Create Israel” or “Pay Every Penny to Save Israel”.

Moreover, scrutinizing the history related to Israel and Jewish connections, there’s no credible evidence supporting the claim.

Pepsi and the Establishment of the State of Israel

It has been mentioned earlier that Pepsi’s journey began in 1898.

On the other hand, from an article titled “This Day In History: May 14” published on the historical website, it is known that on May 14, 1948, David Ben-Gurion, the chairman of the Jewish Agency, declared the establishment of the State of Israel for the first time in 2,000 years.

That is to say, Pepsi came into existence at least 50 years before the birth of the State of Israel.

Furthermore, although the State of Israel was established in 1948, Pepsi did not operate its business activities in Israel until before 1992.

At the same time, the then Arab League imposed a boycott in areas of Palestine dominated by Jews to weaken them economically.

At that time, since Coca-Cola had gained significant popularity in Israel, it faced a boycott from Arab nations. Yet, Pepsi clarified that their absence from the Israeli market wasn’t politically motivated. Instead, they opted not to venture there due to the market’s limited size.

Upon attempting to do business in the country, the company was accused by a Jewish protectionist group of ‘destroying youth with music, dance, and sexuality’, and for this reason, Pepsi’s ‘Kosher’ (Halal for Jews) license was temporarily revoked.

However, not just in Israel, but also in its birthplace, the United States, Pepsi faced opposition from Jews in 1973.

From a report titled “Jewish organizations demand boycott of pepsi products” published in The Commentator, the student newspaper of Yeshiva University, on February 28, 1973, it is known that several Jewish organizations in the United States called for a boycott of PepsiCo and Pepsi Cola products to put pressure on the Russian government against the ongoing oppression of Soviet Jews. The reason being, at that time, PepsiCo had made a multi-million dollar business agreement with the Soviet Union.

Screenshot from Yeshiva University Website

From these historical lessons, certain conclusions can be drawn. For example:

  • The existence of Pepsi predated the foundation of the State of Israel. Therefore, it’s unrealistic to suggest that a campaign to support Pepsi would be initiated prior to the formation of such a state. If a campaign were centered on the establishment of Israel, it might have made more sense. In this narrative, it’s implied that the correct spelling should be “Pepci” rather than “Pepsi”. However, examining the history of how Pepsi was named, its spelling has remained consistent without any alterations.
  • Were the purported acronym for Pepsi accurate, it would suggest a deep and altruistic bond between Pepsi and the State of Israel or the Jewish people. But a thorough historical review reveals a contrasting narrative.

Bottom Line

Pepsi’s origin dates back to 1898 in New Bern, North Carolina, USA. It was introduced by local pharmacist Caleb Bradham. Initially, the beverage was launched under the name of its creator, but it was later rebranded as Pepsi-Cola. Although the company has never formally defined the origin of the name, there’s been long standing speculation suggesting that Pepsi stands for ‘Pay Every Penny to Save Israel’. This rumored acronym has been in circulation since the 1980s, gaining wider attention in the digital age, particularly through the internet and social media platforms. However, a review of Pepsi’s history and its associations with the Jewish community and the State of Israel indicates that this alleged acronym lacks a credible basis. Notably, at the time of Pepsi’s invention in 1898, the State of Israel didn’t exist. Moreover, Pepsi only entered the Israeli market significantly later, making the alleged acronym incongruent with the timeline.

Also Read: Fact-Check: Dr. Muhammad Yunus did not donate 100 Crore Taka to Israel

So, the claim that Pepsi’s name stands for ‘Pay Every Penny to Save Israel’ is baseless and false.


RS Team
RS Team
Rumor Scanner Fact-Check Team
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