Walter S. Mack, who transformed the once little-known Pepsi-Cola Co. into the nation's No. 2 soft-drink maker, died Sunday at age 94 after a lengthy illness.
Mack died in his sleep at his home in New York, where he had been recuperating from a bout with pneumonia and heart disease, said his son, Walter S. Mack Jr.Mack became Pepsi's president in 1938, when the cola company was spun off from New York candy maker Loft's Inc. At that time, Pepsi was selling to candy stores a syrup formulated by a North Carolina druggist in 1893.
Pepsi made little headway against Coca-Cola until Mack broke the cola giant's control of the name ``cola' in a historic court battle in the late 1930s. Within three years, Pepsi was an international giant second only to Coca-Cola in sales.
After stepping down as president in 1951, Mack ran Nedick's hot dog chain and later headed several other companies. He came out of retirement to set up King-Cola Corp., which went bankrupt.
Mack graduated from Harvard in 1917 and volunteered for war service. In his biography, ``No Time Lost,' he recalled his naval duty at Newport, R.I., as ``a continuous round ... of cocktail parties, banquets, holiday balls, and especially coming-out parties for the debutantes.'
He later won a commission to the Naval Academy at Annapolis, Md.
After the war, Mack said, he plunged into the investment business and Republican politics ``to get out and away from my family.'
He started the Young Republican Club in New York City, became president of the Silk Stocking Club in Manhattan's one GOP neighborhood on the rich East Side, and was invited to the White House by Calvin Coolidge.
He ran unsuccessfully for the state Senate in 1932 and worked on Mayor Fiorello La Guardia's mayoral campaigns. He also served as chairman of the New York County Republican Committee.
During the Depression, Mack became involved in turning around troubled but promising companies.
While trying to save the Loft's candy chain, he found its Pepsi syrup more interesting.
He also bought what he called ``the first commercial jingle ever heard on the air,' which played in the first 60-second and 30-second network spots:
``Pepsi-Cola hits the spot,
``Twelve full ounces, that's a lot,
``Twice as much for a nickel, too,
``Pepsi-Cola is the drink for you.'
Mack later said, ``Today, when I listen to some of the jingles ... pouring forth, I'm not so sure that I started such a good thing.'