The Pepsi Challenge celebrates four decades in Hudson
PHOTO COURTESY ROGER MÉNARD
Some of the members of the original Hudson Pepsi Challenge included (front, left to right): Allan Grey, Roger Ménard, Ian Jones, Michael Dolby (in the hat) and Bill Cleary, reportedly also known as ‘Hudson’s Legend.’
Forty years ago this month, young lifelong Francophone Roger ‘Midas’ Ménard – who was born and raised in Hudson – walked into the then men-only tavern in the heart of the village the day before Christmas Eve and proceeded to drink more than a few cold ones. Full of Christmas spirit and beer, he approached two other good friends who were sitting at the bar, Allan Gray and Ian Jones, both of whom were Anglophones and who had attended the same school. He came up with what he thought was a brainwave.
“Bet you there’ll be more French than English here tomorrow,” he boasted, more than a little tipsy. “You’re on,” replied the two guys at the bar.
And so began what is now a fun Hudson tradition – the Pepsi Challenge which sees Hudsonites past and present converging on the Château du Lac on Main Road to determine the winner.
That first day saw 78 Anglophones and 23 Francophones show up. The next year it was 110 to 24. And basically, that ratio has not changed ever since. But that has not stopped the excitement building for this year’s 40th Anniversary to be held from 1 to 3 p.m. on December 24.
“We have never won and can safely predict we won’t this year,” says Roger Ménard who first threw out the challenge – but that’s not the point. It’s to have fun and a chance for everyone to get together before the holidays while raising money, this year for Le Pont/Bridging Food Bank in Hudson.
1 – The challenge started when the Parti Québécois was powerful and there was a lot of talk about separation. There has never ever been a problem between the English and the French in Hudson but we did this because it sounded like fun and a great way to show we were all friends despite the politicians.
2 – We all attended the same school and competed against one another in hockey, baseball, and other sports so it seemed like a good idea.
3 – There was a time when all the businesspeople in Hudson would show up and pay for a round to show their thanks and support they received during the year.
4 – Many Hudsonites who were studying in the US and even England would return home to spend Christmas with their families and to be at the Challenge.
5 – To much laughter, the name ‘Pepsi’ was first proposed by a Francophone and was immediately adopted by everyone there – no one is offended by the name.
6 – The winners are awarded the O’Keefe Cup which is an O’Keefe beer can on a stand because one year, the brewery donated a barrel of their beer that served 360 glasses.
7 – In the early years, the losers bought a beer for all the winners. Which obviously got to be very expensive as the French always paid so now we pass the hat to raise money for good causes in the community.
8 – Everyone is welcome but when the count is taken at exactly 3 p.m., only people living in Hudson (or former residents present) will be counted.
9 – There will also be a tribute to all former Pepsi Challenge participants who have since died.
10 – Louis Thifault, the former manager of IGA Hudson, is the principal organizer of this year’s 40th Anniversary event.
For further information, email Louis Thifault at firstname.lastname@example.org or Roger Ménard at email@example.com.