Winning the 1969 Pepsi-Cola Name the System Contest.

I eagerly entered the foodservice industry in 1967 when my parents purchased a Berkshire mountain inn located in the small town of South Egremont, Massachusetts. I was 13 when I was introduced to the art of dishwashing at our Red Saber Inn.

Red Saber Inn

Red Saber Inn Brochure

It was a family business, so my younger sister Joan and I had to work. One breakthrough day shortly after we took over the property, I carried a man’s luggage to his room and earned my first cash tip of 50 cents. This first gratuity really got my attention and made a lasting impression on me. Pay attention to Guests, take initiative and serve them at all times. I became a real spotter of opportunities to Serve Guests. My future tips would soon exceed my weekly allowance.

The ‘60s were the days of the first Star Trek (on television). Teenagers could watch NASA missions, including the first landing on the moon, in their schools’ all-purpose room every month. We idolized Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins as true U. S. A. Heroes.

Cover of Food Service.

In my father’s July 1969 issue of Food Service Magazine, the cover story by Issac Asimov was titled, “The Food Supply of Luna City,” and it presented the challenges of placing a colony on the moon. The foodservice industry had to figure out how people were going to eat and drink on the moon. Wow!

In this same Food Service magazine, I spotted a bright orange exotic sports car in a two-page ad for a Pepsi-Cola “Name the System” contest. Pepsi wanted a name for the first true “systems approach” to postmix dispensing of soft drinks they had just created. The first prize was the custom-built Aztec Avenger GT-12 sports car. There were seven other prizes. The second prize was a new six-wheeled all-terrain vehicle (ATV) and third prize was a motorized surfboard—something every teen living in the mountains needs. Prizes 4–7 were handsome, solid-state televisions that could operate on house current or battery. I read and re-read the official rules carefully and noticed there was no minimum age requirement.

I began to think about and write down ideas for the name of the system. My father, who had once sold for Canada Dry and was familiar with some industry terms, also gave me a few ideas. I thought of 10 names and mailed separate entries before the end of July deadline and then forgot about the contest. We know the attention span of teens, right?

As a member of the “Pepsi Generation,” I had a lot going on in 1969… sports, music, being a teenager along with my sister Joan, and my glorious Baltimore Colts had star quarterback John Unitas taped up, dressed in blue and white, and playing in Baltimore, Maryland where the Colts belonged!

In the fall, I was at my high school football practice one afternoon at Mt. Everett Regional School in Sheffield, Massachusetts, when my father drove up to the practice field and walked over to my football head coach. Coach Halliday blew his whistle and called me over to my dad.  I have to admit I was a little perturbed being asked to leave the field to talk to a parent in front of the football team, was I in trouble? But my father was smiling. He just received a call from New York. He said, I was a finalist in the Pepsi-Cola Name the System contest and we would learn the judges’ final decision later that night.

After practice and back at the Inn, I was frozen in place next to THE hardline phone when the call came in from New York. “Hello, Red Saber Inn, Yes this is William Bender,” I was then told I was the grand prize winner and the Aztec Avenger sports car was mine. My father and I would be receiving a first-class trip to the famous Sands Hotel in Las Vegas for the annual Pepsi-Cola shareholder convention in a few weeks. All expenses would be paid except for any losses on the Sand’s Casino floor.

So, at the age of 15, without a driver’s license and too young to drive, I would soon have a new sports car and national publicity from Pepsi-Cola. A career in food service was looking very good to me.

And it still does! Foodservice was my first choice for work and career. I have worked for great brands like Steak and Ale and consulted with many operators across the United States and in Canada. I’m extremely satisfied with my career choice and I am honored to be a twenty-year professional member of Foodservice Consultants Society International.

I’ve been fortunate to work alongside industry-leading FCSI professionals like Bill Main, FCSI on many client projects during the last thirty years. Thanks for all you have shared with me, Bill!

Bill Main, FCSI – The #MenuGuy!

Currently, I serve as a vice president to Ken Schwartz, FCSI. Ken is the President/CEO of SSA Incorporated and has built the dynamic design + consulting team based at our studio in Tampa, Florida. SSA serves the global foodservice and lodging industry. We work for clients in all sectors around the globe.

Ken Schwartz, FCSI, CEO of SSA Inc.

design + consulting

If we can just get that Jetson’s space travel Bespopke project completed and finally figure out how to live on the moon, we’ll be growing new markets very soon.

William H Bender, FCSI @wmbender Twitter
@whbender Instagram

My name that won the Pepsi-Cola “Name the System” contest was


Follow me on social media. I’m always happy to answer your questions and especially assist high school ProStart students across the country. #myfcsi

Pepsi-Cola Name The System Contest Grand Prize

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