Dr Pepper is a truly iconic soda, with flavors that are so unique that it’s almost impossible to figure out what it actually tastes like. With such a distinctive flavor, it isn’t surprising that the popular drink has an interesting story and history behind it, here are the Top 10 Untold Truths of Dr Pepper.
10. Dr Pepper Was Created by a Pharmacist
To really know the history behind a product, you have to know something about who created it. Dr Pepper was created by an American pharmacist named Charles Alderton in 1885. Alderton came up with the recipe for the drink and created its formula in a drug store in Waco, Texas. Although born in New York, Alderton studied in the UK and then returned back to the US before practicing as a pharmacist. His interest in creating a soda actually stemmed from his realization that people were becoming bored of typical soda flavors and he believed that he could create something new and unique. His formula actually combined around 23 different ingredients in order to create the classic Dr Pepper flavor we know and love today. Alderton originally named the drink ‘Waco’ and it wasn’t long before people took an interest in the flavorful beverage. The owner of the drug store was a man named Wade Morrison and Alderton actually ended up giving him the recipe for ‘Waco’ and Morrison changed the name to Dr. Pepper (with a period originally, but we’ll get to that later). The name Dr. Pepper was chosen by Morrison because it was the name of his former boss back when he was just an employee at a drug store. His boss was Dr. Charles T. Pepper and Morrison clearly was grateful to him for giving him a job back in the day.
9. People Once Viewed Dr Pepper as Healthy
Now, when you think of Dr Pepper you probably don’t think of something that is good for you. However, the name Dr Pepper has actually confused a lot of people in the past. The use of the term ‘Dr” led many to believe that the drink may have some hidden health benefits. This was only emphasized by the fact that in its marketing early on, ads claimed that if you drank the soda, it would help with different things such as digestion and energy levels. However, Dr Pepper does not actually offer any true benefits to your health. There are some health benefits associated with consuming caffeine – but the amount of sugar in Dr Pepper, through its use of high fructose corn syrup, sort of overpowers the benefits of it. Dr Pepper also uses phosphoric acid, which is actually something that is found naturally in a lot of different foods, such as meat, eggs, nuts, etc. Its purpose in Dr Pepper is to stop the growth of bacteria and to also add a level of tartness to its flavor. When you hear the words ‘phosphoric acid’ it sounds pretty unhealthy, almost like it could be something highly toxic, but in reality, it is perfectly safe to consume in reasonable quantities. So, even though Dr Pepper may not be a healthy drink for those watching their sugar levels or on a diet, drinking it isn’t going to kill you.
8. Someone Drank 3 Cans a Day and Lived 106 Years
The late Elizabeth Sullivan was born in Texas and was a huge fan of Dr Pepper. Sullivan started drinking the soda about 50 years into her life and she absolutely fell in love with it. She became Dr Pepper’s number one fan and was known for her love of the soda right up until her passing. Dr Pepper became her absolute favorite drink and she didn’t stray from the popular soda – she was pretty dedicated to it. There was no occasional switch to Coca-Cola or Sprite, she was one loyal customer. Not only did she drink Dr Pepper regularly, she actually consumed 3 entire cans of the soft drink every single day. That is a lot of Dr Pepper, even for a soda lover! She truly believed that Dr Pepper added something positive to her life and that drinking the soda every day may have been one of the reasons for why she was still so active in her old age. Despite many doctor’s claiming that drinking too much soda was bad for her (and people in general), Sullivan continued anyways – and it didn’t seem to negatively affect her life in any way. Maybe there is something in Dr Pepper that makes you live longer, or maybe it has something to do with staying happy throughout your life. To be honest, we wouldn’t be against drinking a lot more Dr Pepper to find out – for research purposes of course.
7. It Does Not Contain Prune Juice (and it never did)
There has long been a rumor circulating from the very start that Dr Pepper uses prune juice as one of their ingredients in their official recipe. People even think that this ingredient is probably one of the most crucial in creating the soda’s iconic and delicious taste. However, this is not true at all – and we actually aren’t even sure why or where this rumor started. Dr Pepper has always denied claims that there is prune juice in the popular drink. However, they haven’t truly specified what natural or artificial flavors are used to create its flavor. It’s definitely possible that they use artificial prune flavor in their recipe, but that’s something that will probably remain a secret for a very long time. The Dr Pepper recipe is actually said to be made up of 23 different flavors. The list is pretty long, but some of the flavors that are said to be used include cherry, blackberry, all spice, orange, and even cardamom. You may not be able to pick out all of these flavors when you take a sip of Dr Pepper, but it’s believed that the mixture of all of these flavors (plus 18 others) helps to create the drink that we love to enjoy today. The next time you pick up a bottle or can of Dr Pepper, try and see what flavors you can pick out, maybe you’ll be surprised.
6. Some Dr Pepper Ads Have been Controversial
In 2011, Dr Pepper released a new drink that they called Dr Pepper TEN. It was a lower calorie version of the drink and that alone was not a problem at all. However, Dr Pepper used the slogan ‘It’s Not for Women’ to advertise the low-calorie beverage and they received a lot of backlash because of it. Of course, right away you can tell there is a clear issue with this slogan. You may be wondering, why was the brand targeting men for this drink and what advertising and branding techniques did they use to reach this audience? Well, those are both pretty good questions. Usually diet versions of products are aimed towards women, or both women and men, but usually not solely men. Dr Pepper saw this as an opportunity to create a diet version of the drink that filled this target-audience gap in the market. They created packaging for the drink that was the color of gunmetal and attempted to make the drink look more ‘masculine’. The release of this product was met with a negative reaction from consumers who found that the packaging, branding, and overall presentation of the product was promoting sexism and that it was insulting to women. Although the product had people talking, it wasn’t for a good reason. We would be absolutely surprised to see a product like this today using such a controversial slogan!
5. One City Consumes Way Too Much
In southwest Virginia there is an area called Roanoke Valley and you may be surprised to hear that this area is home to the biggest Dr Pepper fans. You wouldn’t expect for this to be the case in a small, less-populated area of the US, but it’s true. The people of Roanoke are such loyal supporters of Dr Pepper that they actually dedicated the date of October 24th to the drink, officially naming it ‘Dr Pepper Day’. Can’t imagine spending an entire day celebrating a soda? Well, if you live in Roanoke, you probably have! You may be wondering why this specific city loves Dr Pepper so much? Well, remember Dr. Charles T. Pepper that we mentioned earlier? His original drugstore (called Dr Pepper’s Drugstore) was actually based in Rural Retreat, which is an area of Virginia that is only about an hour away from Roanoke. In fact, the first Dr Pepper factory in Virginia was actually opened in Roanoke in 1906. With this area of the US being the hub for all things Dr Pepper, it isn’t surprising that the drink is so popular and heavily consumed there. So, if you’re around southwest Virginia this October, why not join in on the celebration?
4. Dr Pepper Has its Own Museum
We’re not kidding. There is an entire museum in Waco, Texas, that is completely dedicated to Dr Pepper. The Dr Pepper Museum and Free Enterprise Institute was built in 1906 by a man named Milton Scott. At first, it consisted of one building and it was completely dedicated to the creation of Dr Pepper. The purpose of the museum is to inform and entertain museum-goers, in order to keep the history of the soda industry alive. The museum itself actually is not owned by Keurig Dr Pepper (the Dr Pepper parent company) and is completely independent from it. However, it really does act as a great advertisement for the brand – and they don’t even have to pay a penny for it! The Museum consists of a bottling plant (yes, the same one that was mentioned earlier from 1906), a courtyard, and a structure called The Kellum-Rotan building, which holds the Museum’s memorabilia and historical objects. In the Kellum-Rotan building, you can find not only memorabilia pertaining to Dr Pepper, but also from other famous soda brands like Pepsi-Cola. You may even be surprised to learn that Dr Pepper was actually invented before another famous classic soda.
3. Dr Pepper Existed Before Coca Cola
Yup, it’s actually true. Dr Pepper was created in 1885 and Coca-Cola was technically founded in 1886, only one year later. Coca-Cola was introduced during a social movement called the temperance movement, which was the fight against the consumption and purchasing of alcohol products. Therefore during this time, Coca-Cola offered a non-alcoholic option that members of this movement happily welcomed, and we don’t blame them. Similarly to Dr Pepper, Coca-Cola was created by a pharmacist. This pharmacist’s name was Dr. John S. Pemberton and he created the syrup that is used to create the classic Coca-Cola taste. Just like Dr Pepper, Coca-Cola was actually first sold at a drug store, more specifically in a pharmacy in Georgia for only 5 cents a glass! We can’t imagine a time where soda was that cheap – but things were a lot different back then and five cents was a reasonable price to charge for a soda. There are many objective similarities between the two soda’s, such as they are both dark in color and were made during a similar period of time. However, Dr Pepper is not considered a cola, and therefore the two are not placed in the same category of soda beverages. In case you are wondering what makes something a cola, it is the presence of a flavor that you find in an actual kola nut. Coca-Cola and Dr Pepper may seem a bit similar to one another, but in reality, they each offer a unique taste that is easily recognizable the second you take a sip.
2. There is No Period in the Name
Many people make the mistake of adding a period after the Dr in Dr Pepper. This is almost a reflex for those who associate ‘Dr’ with being the title for a person. We totally get the impulse to use grammatically correct punctuation, but there actually isn’t a period in the soda’s name – at least not anymore. In the 1950’s, Dr Pepper went through a design change. The company decided to reimagine and redesign their logo and branding completely, which included a reimagining of the name. During this process, the brand decided to remove the period from ‘Dr. Pepper’ and settle on Dr Pepper without the period. Some people say that the period was removed simply so that the logo appeared cleaner, more attractive, and was easier to read. This change in the name did not coincide with any formula or product change for Dr Pepper. The transformation of Dr. Pepper with a period into Dr Pepper without, was solely external and for advertising reasons. When the change happened with the name, it wasn’t formally announced or explained as being relevant or important. With or without the period, Dr Pepper remained a popular, delicious, and unique drink, unlike any other on the market at the time, or even now!
1. You Can Drink Dr Pepper Hot
We know what you’re thinking, Dr Pepper hot? What a strange and bizarre idea. However, in the 1960’s, Dr Pepper ads promoted the idea of consuming the beverage warmed up and in a mug. They claimed that hot Dr Pepper would make the perfect holiday drink and that it was extremely easy to heat and would be throughly enjoyed by all. This was a unique aspect to the Dr Pepper brand that other soda companies at the time had never tried before. The company suggested that consumers should try heating up the soda on the stove until it created steam and then pour it into a mug with a slice of lemon. You may be thinking that hot Dr Pepper sounds kind of gross, and we totally get it. But we think that the overall aim of this was to make drinking hot Dr Pepper a similar experience to drinking other holiday-related drinks such as hot apple cider. Unfortunately (or fortunately, we’re not sure) this trend did not stick and these days it would be rare to find someone enjoying a hot Dr Pepper during the holidays (or at all). Some fans of the drink have mentioned online that their parents would give them a hot Dr Pepper when they had a sore throat, so maybe there is a bigger use for the hot version of the soda. However, there is really no beating a cold Dr Pepper as it is a treat unlike any other and it really is a great choice in our books.