The 4449 Pepsi Connection

by Arlen L. Sheldrake

Most of us have heard the story of the funding for the American Freedom Train Foundation and how PepsiCo was the first million dollar donor toward the project. That story is true, but there is more to the story.

On September 23 Wes Camp posted information about an obituary published September 20 by the Washington Post. The email message from Wes:

Donald M. Kendall, Chairman of the PepsiCo Corp., was the first American Freedom Train financial sponsor that committed corporate money. After nearly 70 approaches to corporate sponsors by Ross Rowland over two years to support the AFT, all those corporation presentations generated responses of: No Interest, Not only NO! but HELL NO!

Finally, Ross got an appointment with Don Kendall at PepsiCo Corp. headquarters in Purchase, New York, and he decided to help. The country was in a sour mood following the resignation of Nixon and the Watergate Affair. Kendall decided to support the idea but also to refrain from making it a rolling advertisement for Pepsi. He caught the spirit and threw tremendous weight into the idea. Kendall then went with Ross to the other corporation boards, and they agreed to the AFT business plan. It was a truly momentous decision; he is the reason behind the cash to get the 4449 rebuilt.”

Donald McIntosh Kendall was born in Sequim, Washington, on March 16, 1920, and died September 19, 2020, at age 99. As president and chief executive of Pepsi-Cola and its successor company, PepsiCo, Kendall turned a middling beverage business into a globe-spanning rival of Coca-Cola. From 1963 until his retirement in 1986, he brought Pepsi to China and the Soviet Union, broadened the company’s portfolio by acquiring fast food chains such as Pizza Hut, Taco Bell and Kentucky Fried Chicken, and helped pioneer the modern diet soda with development of Diet Pepsi. He grew revenue from $200 million to $7.6 billion.

Sources: Wes Camp and The Washington Post, September 20, 2020.