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The Wall Street Journal

Sept. 20, 2020, 10:32 p.m. EDT

Former Pepsi CEO Donald Kendall is dead at 99

Kendall was at company’s helm for 2½ decades as it grew into a snack and drink juggernaut, introduced American cola to the U.S.S.R., and launched the ‘Pepsi Challenge’

By Mike Esterl and Jennifer Maloney

Donald M. Kendall, who built PepsiCo Inc. into a snack-and-beverage juggernaut and introduced the Soviet Union to American cola at the height of the Cold War, died Saturday. He was 99 years old.

The executive, who grew up milking cows and finished just three semesters of college, became chief executive of Pepsi-Cola Co. (NAS:PEP) in 1963 at age 42 and presided over the company until his retirement in 1986. During that time, sales grew nearly 40-fold through acquisitions and the “Pepsi Challenge” — its high-profile marketing assault on the dominance of rival Coca-Cola Co. (NYS:KO) .

“He was relentless about growing our business, a fearless leader, and the ultimate salesman,” said PepsiCo  CEO and Chairman Ramon Laguarta. “In many ways, he was the man who made PepsiCo PepsiCo.”

An expanded version of this report appears at WSJ.com.

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