Jump to a section:

Prologue:
About the FAQ

Section 1:
History and Trivia

Section 2:
The Drink and How To Get It

Section 3:
Ads, Merchandise, Museums, and Literature

Visit some links:

Old Doc's Soda Shop

Dr Pepper Museum

The Official
Dr Pepper site

Dr Pepper Snapple Group

Check out my books

compiled by Christopher Flaherty
from various sources
version 4.42 January 14, 2012

Note: A major update is on the way. In the meantime, please read this,
read here for some background, and PLEASE SIGN THIS PETITION.


Questions:

Prologue: About the FAQ
a. What's a FAQ?
b. Where can I find the latest version of this FAQ?
c. What are the sources for this FAQ?
d. What changes have been made to this FAQ?
e. Why did you put this FAQ together?
f. How can I contribute to/make suggestions/submit corrections to this FAQ?


Section 1: History and Trivia
1.1 Who invented Dr Pepper?
1.2 Is Dr Pepper older than Coca-Cola?
1.3 Was there ever really a person called Dr. Pepper?
1.4 Is there now a town named Dr Pepper?
1.5 What's the connection between the Beatles and Dr Pepper?
1.6 What's the connection between the JFK assassination and Dr Pepper?
1.7 What's the connection between the MLK assassination and Dr Pepper?
1.8 Did Dr Pepper put out a can with a patriotic scene of the Empire State Building that left out "under God" from the Pledge of Allegiance?
1.9 What’s the connection between Hillary Clinton and Dr Pepper?
1.10 Who are some other celebrities who like Dr Pepper?
1.11 What's the connection between Axl Rose and Dr Pepper?
1.12 What are the lyrics to the song in the "Be a Pepper" commericals?
1.13 What's the connection between Sarah Palin and Dr Pepper?
1.14 Is Dr Pepper really suing itself?


Section 2: The Drink, and How To Get It
2.1 Does Dr Pepper contain prune juice?
2.2 Okay, so what's in Dr Pepper?
2.3 What's the recipe for Hot Dr Pepper?
2.4 What Dr Pepper imitations exist, and where can you find them?
2.5 What's the difference between Dr Pepper made with Imperial Cane Sugar, and Dr Pepper made with high fructose corn syrup?
2.6 How can I get some cane sugar Dr Pepper?
2.7 How can I get some caffeine-free Dr Pepper?
2.8 What's this "Red Fusion" drink I've heard about?
2.9 What are these "Cherry Vanilla," "Berries & Cream," "Cherry Chocolate," and "Cherry" flavors of Dr Pepper?
2.10 Is there a drink called a "Flaming Dr Pepper"?


Section 3: Ads, Merchandise, Museums, and Literature
3.1 Why drink Dr Pepper at 10 o'clock, 2 o'clock, and 4 o'clock?
3.2 What happened to the period after "Dr" in Dr Pepper?
3.3 Who owns Dr Pepper? I heard it was owned by Coke/Pepsi/7-Up/etc.?
3.4 Is there a Dr Pepper museum?
3.5 Where can I buy Dr Pepper merchandise?
3.6 Where can I find this Dr Pepper collectible? Who can I contact to have this antique Dr Pepper item looked at?
3.7 What books have been written about Dr Pepper?
3.8 How can I contact The Dr Pepper Company?
3.9 Where can I find Dr Pepper jelly beans?
3.10 Where can I find Dr Pepper lip balm?



Questions with Answers:

a. What's a FAQ?

FAQ stands for Frequently Asked Questions, and since 1998 I have seen more than my fair share of them.


b. Where can I find the latest version of this FAQ?

The latest version can always be found on the World Wide Web at http://www.freenewyork.net/dpfaq.html. This FAQ was posted to alt.fan.dr-pepper, alt.answers, and news.answers about once every three months (more or less) between 1998 and 2005, but since version 4.00 I've only been updating the web site version. The following mirror sites for older newsgroup postings of the FAQ also exist:

http://www.cs.uu.nl/wais/html/na-dir/drink/dr-pepper.html
http://www.landfield.com/faqs/drink/dr-pepper/
http://www.bookcase.com/library/faq/archive/drink/dr-pepper.html
ftp://rtfm.mit.edu/pub/usenet-by-group/alt.fan.dr-pepper/ (This archive goes back to version 2.11.)
http://www.faqs.org/faqs/drink/dr-pepper/index.html  (The latest version there is 3.40.)

As of November 12, 1998, a link to this FAQ can be found on Yahoo! in the Home : Society and Culture : Food and Drink : Drinks and Drinking : Dr Pepper category (as opposed to the more corporate Home : Business and Economy : Companies : Beverages : Soft Drinks : Dr Pepper category). It took a while, but hey--what's five months between friends? (Besides, does anyone look up web sites that way anymore?) Anyway, there was an additional happy side effect to the Yahoo! listing besides increased traffic, but I'll elaborate on that in question 2.4, so stay tuned.


c. What are the sources for this FAQ?

This particular FAQ was first put together in its present form by Christopher Flaherty. A smaller and no longer active FAQ was previously compiled by Max Arbogast. Major web site sources include Dr Pepper Snapple Group, Inc. (and all its previous corporate incarnations), the corporate Dr Pepper site, The Dublin Dr Pepper Plant, and the Dr Pepper Museum and Free Enterprise Institute of Waco, Texas. One of the first sites to compile Dr Pepper information, "pepper.doc", was also helpful, but is no longer active as of 2006.  Many old posts to alt.fan.dr-pepper were retrieved via DejaNews (which was subsequently acquired by Google), so thanks to them also.  Wikipedia has also been helpful as of late, though I take no credit for the Dr Pepper entry in its pages (other than once being listed as a source, of course).  The best print source I have is The Legend of Dr Pepper/Seven-Up by Jeffrey L. Rodengen (Ft. Lauderdale, Florida: Write Stuff Syndicate, Inc., 1995).  Other sources are also quoted and attributed throughout the FAQ.


d. What changes have been made to this FAQ?

The chronology of this particular FAQ's development is as follows:


e. Why did you put this FAQ together?

There seemed to be a calling for one, and no one else was posting an extensive Dr Pepper FAQ on the Internet (or at least not in alt.fan.dr-pepper, where this FAQ originated), so I figured I'd give it a shot. I must be doing something right because this FAQ was cited as a reference in the June 10, 1999, edition of the Straight Dope on the web, in an article so generously cribbed from the FAQ that they might as well have asked me to write the thing myself. Example:

My sentence: "The most famous (or is that infamous?) imitation, Mr. Pibb, is Coca-Cola's unsuccessful effort to drive the good Dr out of the market."

Their sentence: "Mr. Pibb is Coca Cola's unsuccessful effort to drive the good Dr out of the market."

Coincidence?

Judge for yourself at http://www.straightdope.com/mailbag/mdrpepper.html. Anyway, the other thing I can't figure out is why they supplied a link to a (now defunct) mirror site of the FAQ (and an old mirror site at that--version 2.02), and not a direct link to the HTML version of the FAQ itself--especially when there was information in the article which had to have come from the most recent version at the time (2.06). Oh well. At least now everyone will know where to go for the very latest info: right here of course. "Get a life," indeed.

While we’re on the subject, the FAQ was also mentioned in a July, 1999, article on texascooking.com, (which has since been revised to erase all mention of the FAQ, strangely) where this site was dubbed "probably the most complete" collection of Dr Pepper information on the internet. Thanks for the kind words, guys! And even though they printed a rather specific version of the web site address (one that pointed directly to what was question 18 -- now 3.5 -- "Where can I buy Dr Pepper merchandise?") instead of the more general location, I won’t hold it against them.

I should also mention the FAQ was cited in The South Talkin’ Dictionary (yet another defunct web site) as a source for the definition of ... Dr Pepper, what else? It’s slightly strange that a Northerner like me is being relied on for information on Southern culture, but I’ll take what I can get.  Or got.  Or something.

The FAQ was also named a "Site du Jour of the Day" on October 5, 2001. You can still view the citation at http://members.tripod.com/~SdJotD/2001/0110.htm and thank the reviewer while you're at it.

The FAQ may not have been cited by name, but I certainly was, in an article on August 21, 2001, in the Austin Chronicle titled "Dr Pepper, Texas," written by David Lynch (no, I’m pretty sure it wasn’t that David Lynch). You can read it yourself here if you don’t have a back issue handy.

Both the FAQ and myself were mentioned in "Bootlegging Dr Pepper," an article written for the Houston Press by its food critic, Robb Walsh. The article went on to become the cover story of the June 5, 2008, issue of the Dallas Observer, re-titled "It's Dr Pepper Time!" In both cases, I'm described as a "fanatic" with a web site "connecting Dr Pepper to various conspiracy theories." I'll take that as a compliment.

Milly Walker, the Collections Manager/Curator for the Dublin Dr Pepper Bottling Co. Museum in Dublin, Texas, sent me a very nice email on November 21, 2002, in which she said “We are very impressed with the accuracy of your information.” That’s not an official endorsement, of course, but I think it says a lot.

Also, as mentioned above, this FAQ was once listed as a source for the Dr Pepper entry in Wikipedia, but the FAQ's last citation was removed on April 16, 2009, and it hasn't been directly cited since. (Indirectly, who can say?) I have not personally contributed anything to that particular entry. I have enough problems editing my own work, so I'll leave that other page alone for now.

Right now I'd like to stress that this FAQ is UNOFFICIAL, meaning that it is not endorsed or authorized by The Dr Pepper Company, The Dr Pepper Snapple Group, Inc., or any other corporate or business entity connected with Dr Pepper. Dr Pepper Snapple Group, Inc. owns all Dr Pepper copyrights and trademarks. Additionally, I'm not employed by Dr Pepper, nor do I work for the Dr Pepper Company in any capacity, and Dr Pepper does not compensate me for the time I dedicate towards writing this FAQ (though I probably wouldn't stop them if they did). I just put this together in my spare time for the purpose of providing quick answers to common (and not-so common) questions about Dr Pepper which appear on the Internet and in my email. So, in other words, please don't sue me. I'm too broke as it is. Let me know if you like it!

(Apparently, a lot of you like it enough to visit, because the FAQ's web site received its 10,000th hit on December 22, 1999, and its 20,000th hit less than a year later. The 30,000th, 40,000th, and 50,000th hits came and went when I wasn’t even looking, and now the hit total is well above 200,000. Thanks, and keep visiting! On to 300,000!)

By the way, in case you're also wondering: "Why did you take three years off between versions 3.51 and 4.00?" The answer: I needed a break. Starting over with a decent HTML editor didn't hurt either.


f. How can I contribute/make suggestions/submit corrections to this FAQ?

Email me at dpfaq@freenewyork.net with "DPFAQ" or something similar in the header someplace. As far as I know, everything here is accurate, but if it turns out something is incorrect, let me know and I'll correct it as soon as possible.


 

Section 1: History and Trivia

1.1 Who invented Dr Pepper?

Dr Pepper was first created in 1885 by Charles Alderton, a pharmacist who was working at Morrison's Old Corner Drug Store in Waco, Texas, at the time.


1.2 Is Dr Pepper older than Coca-Cola?

Yes. Coca-Cola was not invented until 1886, making Dr Pepper the oldest of the current major-brand soft drinks in the United States. In this case, I’m defining a “major brand” as one of the top ten best-selling carbonated brands in the United States, of which Coca-Cola is currently #1, and Dr Pepper is #5, as ranked by Beverage Digest as of 2010, the latest year for which data is available.

As for the other current major brands:

If you’re even more curious:

See? You learn something new every day.


1.3 Was there ever really a person called Dr. Pepper?

There were at least two doctors relevant to this question: a Dr. Charles T. Pepper, of Rural Retreat, Virginia; and a lesser-known Dr. Pepper of Christianburg, Virginia. Both were alive in the late 19th Century when Wade Morrison (the owner of the drug store where Charles Alderton worked) moved to Texas from Virginia in the 1870’s. And here is where the confusion starts.

Until recently, the story was that Morrison had worked as a pharmacist for a drug store in Rural Retreat owned by Dr. Charles T. Pepper, and that since Charles had given Morrison his first job, Morrison returned the favor by naming the new soft drink after him. Jeffrey Rodengen describes this story in much greater detail in his book The Legend of Dr Pepper/Seven-Up. Rodengen even investigates the rumor that Morrison named the drink after Dr. Pepper so that Pepper would approve of his daughter marrying Morrison, concluding that since Pepper’s daughter was “only 8” when Morrison moved to Waco in 1882, the “love story” must not be true. This is all fine information Rodengen dug up, but there’s one small problem: all of it may be false!

Milly Walker, the Collections Manager/Curator for the Dublin Dr Pepper Bottling Co. Museum in Dublin, Texas, sent me a letter on November 21, 2002, describing a great deal of the research and information she had on who the original Dr. Pepper might have been. This is some of what she had to say:


The Pepper family of Virgina is apparently quite extensive. Harry Ellis had quite a nice family history book about the Peppers, and it is in the corporate archives in Dallas. What we found was that according to the United States Census, Morrison lived in the town of Christiansburg and worked as a pharmacy clerk. In that same census on the next page (if I remember correctly) is another Dr. Pepper and he has a daughter, Malinda or Malissa, who is only 16 to Morrison's 17. If you understand that the census takers walked from house to house, you can tell they were near neighbors. This makes much more sense to me than Dr. Charles T. Pepper, 40 miles away in Rural Retreat.

Ms. Walker added: “There is not one piece of evidence that Morrison ever worked for Dr. Charles T. Pepper in Rural Retreat, VA. As far as I can tell, the stories about Morrison came to light after Harry [Ellis] told them.”

So, in other words, Morrison didn’t name Alderton’s new drink after Dr. Charles T. Pepper because: 1) Morrison never worked for Charles T. Pepper of Rural Retreat, Virginia, in the first place; 2) Morrison was never in love with Charles T. Pepper’s daughter; and 3) It’s very likely that Morrison named the drink after a completely different Dr. Pepper of Christianburg, Virginia, and that this Pepper’s daughter was the one whom Morrison had been in love with all those years ago.

Moral of the story: It pays to do your research!


1.4 Is there now a town named Dr Pepper?

Yes and No; it depends on the time of the year. As stated in the June 5-10, 2000, issue of The Dr Pepper Gazette, "Each year at 10 a.m. on the Monday before the second Sunday in June," the town of Dublin, Texas, renames itself "Dr Pepper, Texas" for an entire week. Rita Reed of the Dublin, Texas, Chamber of Commerce told me on June 8, 1998, that this practice had been going on since either 1993 or 1994 (she wasn't quite sure if it had been going on for 4 or 5 years) as part of the annual celebration of the opening of the Dr Pepper plant there--the oldest Dr Pepper bottling plant in the world, which has been in business since 1891. The celebration itself was first held in 1991 to commemorate the plant's 100th anniversary. So, for one week out of the year there is a town in the US named Dr Pepper. On the bright side though, for the rest of the year you still have Dublin.


1.5 What's the connection between the Beatles and Dr Pepper?

It sounds pretty obvious once you know it, but I never would have guessed until someone pointed it out to me: The original title of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Heart's Club Band -- one of the Beatles' most popular albums (and consequently one of the most popular albums period) -- was Dr. Pepper's Lonely Heart's Club Band! Wild, huh? When I asked the fine folks at rec.music.beatles for confirmation, Jim Demes wrote me on September 29, 1998:

According to BEATLESONGS by William J. Dowlding: "The album was originally titled Dr. Pepper's...until the Beatles realized an American soft-drink company had rights to that name." Dowlding got his info from THE BEATLES A TO Z. (1980)

Whether or not the Beatles were fully acquainted with the soft drink before they began work on Sgt. Pepper is still subject to debate. But bottles of Dr Pepper have been spotted in the Let It Be movie, so they had definitely seen the light by then. Of course, this just begs the question: Did all the Beatles drink Dr Pepper, or was only one of them a fan of the soda?

Well, it took a while, but I believe I now have some solid proof that none other than John Lennon may have been the biggest Pepper in the band. In May Pang's book, Instamatic Karma (New York: St. Martin's Press, 2008), John Lennon is described as being a big fan of all kinds of food. From page 71:

[John] wasn't very discriminating--pizza, Chinese, pancakes, he loved it all. I had to ship cases of Dr Pepper over to England to fuel the Imagine sessions, while Walls and Bridges and Rock 'n' Roll were recorded on Burger King Whoppers, deli sandwiches, and Coca-Cola.

Shipping cases of Dr Pepper all the way to England? Yeah, he was a Pepper all right!


1.6 What's the connection between the JFK Assassination and Dr Pepper?

I tell you, I never in a million years expected this question to show up. I mean, I admit it's a pet theory of mine that almost everything in the United States has some sort of Kennedy Assassination connection to it, but after seeing this one I might have to remove the "almost" from the theory!

"Okay, smart guy, what is the connection?"

In the book, Conspiracy Of One (Fort Worth, Texas: The Summit Group, 1990), author Jim Moore presents a variety of reasons why he believes Lee Harvey Oswald was the sole assassin of U.S. President John F. Kennedy. One of those reasons is on page 53, detailing the period immediately after the assassination when Oswald was spotted in the lunchroom of the Texas School Book Depository:

Oswald...put a nickel in the soda machine and selected a Coca-Cola. It may be that this single action on Oswald's part holds the key to his guilt. Oswald habitually drank Dr Pepper. There can be only one realistic explanation for a miser like Oswald to fail to select his soft drink of choice--he was nervous. Three other possibilities exist, all unlikely:

1. Oswald really bought a Dr Pepper and every witness questioned recalled it as a Coca-Cola.
2. The soda machine was out of Dr Pepper.
3. The soda machine--a Coca-Cola product, malfunctioned in favor of its manufacturer.

Next to one of those sentences was a footnote, citing The Day Kennedy Was Shot (1968, Funk & Wagnalls; 1992 HarperPerennial) by Jim Bishop. Sure enough, on page 183 of Bishop's book, there is a less verbose description of the same event:

Oswald dropped a coin in the soda machine. He got a Coca-Cola. This was nervousness because he invariably drank Dr Pepper.

Who knew he wanted to be a Pepper, too?


1.7 What's the connection between the MLK assassination and Dr Pepper?

The connection here is a little more tenuous than the one for JFK above, but here it is:

In 1968, Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated, and James Earl Ray was convicted of that crime after pleading guilty to it in 1969. However, within days of that conviction, Ray insisted that he was innocent, and kept insisting it right up until his death in 1998. For the last twenty years of Ray’s life, an attorney by the name of William F. Pepper, L.L.D., tried to reopen Ray’s case in order to get Ray a new trial. So (for those of you who can’t see this coming), the name of the attorney for the convicted assassin of Martin Luther King was... Dr. Pepper! Strange, but true.


1.8 Did Dr Pepper put out a can with a patriotic scene of the Empire State Building that left out "under God" from the Pledge of Allegiance?

The simple answer: No.

The more complex answer: No, they didn't.

The long answer: Why something like this generates attention, as opposed to genuine problems (like say, the lack of a decent rail system, a shortage of affordable housing, and an electoral process that leaves a lot to be desired, to name a few) is beyond me. Here are the facts:

§ In early 2002, the Dr Pepper company issued a promotional can which had a picture of the Statue of Liberty on it, not the Empire State Building (and how the Empire State Building could be "patriotic" I'll never know). You can see a picture of that can here.

§ That same can had printed on it the exact phrase "One Nation...Indivisible".

§ The full text of the Pledge of Allegiance was never printed on this can in the first place, so nothing was omitted from it--unless you count the use of that excerpt as omitting something, in which case over 90% of the Pledge was omitted, not just the words "under God". So, while it is technically true that this can did not have the words "under God" on it, it would be equally true to say that it didn't have a million more words from the English language on it as well.

§ As it turns out, the words "under God" were not even part of the Pledge of Allegiance when it was written in 1892 by Francis Bellamy, a Baptist minister. Those two words were added in 1954 by Congress to deliberately inject religion into public schools, in an attempt to somehow show the United States as being better than so-called communist countries at the time. Two years later in 1956, Congress changed the national motto of the U.S. from "E Pluribus Unum" (Latin for "Out of many, one") to "In God We Trust," for similar reasons.

In any event, it seems that the above facts morphed via the Internet into the above rumor, and have been circulated by enough people to the point where it now qualifies as a bona fide urban legend. Apparently, there are even people out there who are willing to "boycott" Dr Pepper because of the lack of the aforementioned two words in question on that can, and that makes me wonder: are those same people going to boycott every other soda pop on sale now too? Because I don't see the words "under God" on any soda can in stores right now, do you?

Oh, well. More Dr Pepper for me, I guess.


1.9 What’s the connection between Hillary Clinton and Dr Pepper?

Actually, it’s more of a connection between her and the diet version of the drink. Nevertheless, you can see it for yourself on pages 171-172 of Ms. Clinton’s book, Living History (2003: Simon & Schuster):

          I was taking one of my first solo trips as First Lady when a young aide asked me, “What would you like to drink in your suite?”

          “You know, I really feel like a Diet Dr Pepper,” I said.

          For years afterward, every time I opened a fridge in a hotel suite, it was loaded with Diet Dr Pepper. People would come up to me with frosty glasses of it. I felt like the sorcerer’s apprentice, the Mickey Mouse character in the classic animated film Fantasia: I couldn’t turn off the Dr Pepper machine.

She gives this as an example of how she had to watch what she said as First Lady, since there were apparently many people who were too willing to take her requests to the extreme. This, she says, is how “Travelgate” happened. Whatever. I wonder if her husband prefers the stuff with the cane sugar in it.


1.10 Who are some other celebrities who like Dr Pepper?

Thanks to the incredibly hard-working people at The Smoking Gun, I can now tell you that the following performers have specifically requested Dr Pepper by name in the riders of their contracts, making the beverage a genuine requirement for these acts to show up at a venue near you:

Aerosmith
The Beach Boys
Clint Black
The Bloodhound Gang Don't you dare take it out of the case!
Bush
Beck
Cher
Joe Cocker, or at least his female vocalists
Foo Fighters
Kenny G's crew Diet only--it figures.
Goo Goo Dolls
Sammy Hagar Exit stage left!
Hootie and the Blowfish
Vince Gill
Journey
The Neville Brothers
Red Hot Chili Peppers
Peter Tork, of The Monkees
ZZ Top Regular and diet! Well, they are from Texas...

In addition, the late Johnny Cash was also a Pepper. Maybe that's why he hardly ever sang beer drinking songs.


1.11 What's the connection between Axl Rose and Dr Pepper?

On March 26, 2008, the Dr Pepper company, for a then-unknown reason, publicly declared that it would give a free can of Dr Pepper to almost everyone in the United States if Axl Rose released his magnum opus Chinese Democracy sometime that year. To quote directly:

"...everyone in America, except estranged GNR guitarists Slash and Buckethead, will receive a free can of Dr Pepper if the album ships some time -- anytime! -- in 2008."

According to Mojo magazine, Slash's reaction to this was a bit low-key:

"Yeah, someone sent me a text about that at 3:00 a.m. last night," Slash replied. "I thought, 'What kind of left-field shit is that?' It's pretty funny, actually. I guess Buckethead and I will just have to make do with Coca-Cola."

Axl Rose himself was equally baffled by the news, and responded with a press release of his own:

We are surprised and very happy to have the support of Dr Pepper with our album "Chinese Democracy," as for us, this came totally out of the blue. If there is any involvement with this promotion by our record company or others, we are unaware of such at this time. And as some of Buckethead's performances are on our album, I'll share my Dr Pepper with him.

In April, 2008, Nick Ragone and Chris Kooluris of the Ketchum public relations agency admitted in The Council of Public Relations Firms' "electronic publication" The Firm Voice that they were the architects of this surgically precise "disruptive PR" stunt:

Our concept: Encourage Guns N' Roses frontman Axl Rose to release his decade-in-the-making album Chinese Democracy by offering a free Dr Pepper to everyone in America if the album drops in 2008.

At first blush it might seem bizarre, but to date it's generated over 300 million impressions and has created an almost immeasurable connection between the brand and millions of GNR fans. Why? Because the brand put itself in the place of one of its subdemographics – music enthusiasts – and approached it from their perspective: what would they appreciate, find entertaining, and think is cool. And we made it authentic and funny by purposely excluding estranged GNR guitarists Slash and Buckethead from the free Dr Pepper offer – a small but critical touch.

It worked so well that the reclusive Axl Rose actually thanked Dr Pepper on the official GNR Web site, and revealed that he would share his Dr Pepper with Buckethead because a few of his tracks were still on the album. That might seem like an insignificant thing to most people, but to the GNR fans we were targeting, this was news – big news. They appreciated what Dr Pepper had done, mostly because it was so unexpected, unusual, and out of the ordinary for a company. Their feedback to us (in the form of thousands of blog posts): who knew that Dr Pepper had a sense of humor?

Kooluris also bragged to PRWeek about how a blog Ketchum created specifically to publicize this offer was able to look like it had no corporate origins:

The agency also created a multimedia aspect to the effort, launching a blog (chinesedemocracywhen.blogspot.com) March 5 and using it to release Dr. Pepper's press release later that month.

The firm targeted men ages 18 to 34, Dr. Pepper's core customer demographic, with the endeavor, said Nick Ragone, SVP and director of Ketchum's communications media strategy group. The campaign's budget is undisclosed.

Brands such as Dr. Pepper face a challenge in creating blogs and other new media elements that appear consumer-generated, instead of looking like corporate Web sites, said Chris Kooluris, Ketchum senior media specialist.

“We didn't link to Dr. Pepper at all, and [the blog] looked so user-generated, it didn't look corporation-generated,” he said. “It had a sense of mystery, and it had a sense of satisfaction when you see that a big brand could be really cool if it stopped acting like a big brand and started acting like customers or fans.”

As fate would have it, Dr Pepper's unexpected offer might have been just the kick in the pants that Axl needed. Rumors about the album's imminent release started circulating in early October that year, and on October 22, Guns N' Roses' managers confirmed that Chinese Democracy would be released on November 23, 2008, exclusively at Best Buy stores. To their credit, the Dr Pepper company did not back out of their offer. The same day that the release date was confirmed, Dr Pepper announced how "every American" could get a free 20-ounce bottle of the drink on the house:

1. On the Nov. 23, 2008 release date, go to www.drpepper.com.
2. Register your information to receive a coupon for one free 20-oz. Dr Pepper.
3. When your coupon arrives, redeem it wherever Dr Pepper is sold.
4. Drink your Dr Pepper slowly to experience all 23 flavors. Dr’s orders.

Slash and Buckethead weren't excluded in that press release. Maybe all was forgiven?

In any event, on Sunday, November 23, the giveaway did not go smoothly, to put it mildly. Apparently, Dr Pepper's web site was not built to withstand the massive crush of people who bombarded its servers with requests for free soda. Todd Martens gave this report that day (complete with typos) for the Los Angeles Times music blog "Pop & Hiss":

But if you go to Dr. Pepper's actual website to try to snare a voucher for your free soda, good luck. You'll likely get a server error. As earlier reported, the free Dr. Pepper was supposed to be just a one-day promotion. Those who fill out a form will receive a coupon redeemable for one soda in 4 to 6 weeks, according to the site. But unprepared for the demand, will Dr. Pepper extend the promotion? Here's hoping, as Pop & Hiss doesn't want to see what happens to a country full of citizens who are denied their free soda.

Victor Godinez of The Dallas Morning News also detailed his struggle:

It looks like heavy traffic is bringing the site down to a crawl. I've been trying for about 20 minutes to get in.

Looks like it's kind of working, though, so get your beverage.

UPDATE: Wow, I had no idea this was going to become such an epic undertaking. For what it's worth, I was able to finally log on earlier today and register successfully for my coupon. But the site looks like it's hammered now.

In response to this server slowdown, the Dr Pepper company placed the following message on their web site during the latter part of the day:

We are sorry for any delays you have experienced in securing a coupon for a free Dr Pepper. While we had taken additional steps to meet the expected demand for our offer, the response has been greater than anticipated. To resolve this, we are increasing our server capacity and making a toll-free number available (1-888-DRPEPPER or 1-888-377-3773). In addition, as a result of the technical delays, we are extending the offer and will provide more information shortly.

Thanks for your patience and support.

The promotion, originally scheduled to run for 24 hours and end at 12 midnight Central Standard Time that Monday morning, was subsequently extended until 6:00 PM CST that Monday night. I couldn't tell you how effective the extension was though, as yours truly still had to endure several "Fatal error" messages before finally being able to enter my information--and even then I was never sure that the data had been accepted on the other side. Perhaps it never was, as I never did receive my coupon for a free 20-ounce bottle of Dr Pepper. Oh, well. I won't hold a grudge.

The same can't be said for Guns N' Roses, however. On November 25, their lawyer, Alan S. Gutman, sent a letter to Larry D. Young, the President of & CEO of the Dr Pepper Snapple Group, Inc., which said in part:

The redemption scheme your company clumsily implemented for this offer was an unmitigated disaster which defrauded consumers and, in the eyes of vocal fans, "ruined" the day of Chinese Democracy's release. ... Further, what happened on November 23 was a complete fiasco. In what could only be characterized as reckless indifference or complete stupidity, Dr. Pepper [sic] was completely unprepared for the traffic to its site. Most visitors were greeted with error messages. Some people who got through to Dr. Pepper's servers were told to call a toll free number, few of whom got through. Many walked away angry as Dr. Pepper once again abused our clients' image and soured the momentous music event that was Chinese Democracy's release. [sic]

Mr. Gutman went on to demand that Dr Pepper run a full-page apology in several national newspapers, "expand the redemption window" for the free soda offer, and contact him "to discuss an appropriate payment to our clients for the unauthorized use and abuse of their publicity and intellectual property rights."

A few days later, in the beginning of December, the Dr Pepper Snapple Group issued a response which was much less litigious than Gutman's letter:

We are disappointed that GNR’s lawyers are turning a fun giveaway into a legal dispute. We simply commented on the delayed release of "Chinese Democracy" and openly encouraged the band to release it before the end of the year. Axl even expressed support for our efforts earlier this year.

When the album release was confirmed, Guns n’ Roses’ management team approached us and we openly shared our giveaway plans. For us, this has always been about the fans, and we’ve taken great steps to fulfill our offer, including:

• extending the window for the giveaway from 24 to 42 hours.
• adding a toll-free line to handle consumer requests for the coupons.
• setting up an interactive voice recorder to accept coupon requests.

Additionally, for those who contacted us in the week after the giveaway about difficulties requesting the coupon, we continued to offer free coupons to address any problems they may have encountered.

This was one of the largest responses we have ever received for a giveaway, and we’re happy we were able to satisfy the thirst of so many Dr Pepper fans.

We wish Guns n’ Roses the best with their album.

So far, that seems to have been the last word on the matter, but only time will tell.


1.12 What are the lyrics to the song in the "Be a Pepper" commercials?

The "Be a Pepper" advertising campaign was created for Dr Pepper by Eric Weber at the Young & Rubicam agency in 1977. As part of the campaign that ran throughout the late 1970's, David Naughton--perhaps best known for singing "Makin' It" (#5 on Billboard's Hot 100 in July, 1979) and starring as David Kessler in An American Werewolf In London (John Landis, 1981)--performed in a series of very memorable commercials, in which he sang variations of a song that inevitably had the chorus "Wouldn't you like to be a Pepper, too?" The exact lyrics changed depending on the length and setting of each commercial, but what follows can probably be considered the most typical version:

I drink Dr Pepper and I’m proud
I used to be alone in a crowd
But now you look around these days
There seems to be a Dr Pepper craze

Oh, Pepper

I’m a Pepper, he’s a Pepper, she’s a Pepper, we’re a Pepper
Wouldn’t you like to be a Pepper, too?
I’m a Pepper, he’s a Pepper, she’s a Pepper
If you drink Dr Pepper, you’re a Pepper too

Us Peppers are an interesting breed
An original taste is what we need
Ask any Pepper and he’ll say
Only Dr Pepper tastes that way

Oh, Pepper

I’m a Pepper, he’s a Pepper, she’s a Pepper, we’re a Pepper
Wouldn’t you like to be a Pepper, too?
I’m a Pepper, he’s a Pepper, she’s a Pepper, we’re a Pepper!
Wouldn’t you like to be a Pepper, too?

Be a Pepper
Drink Dr Pepper
Be a Pepper
Drink Dr Pepper...

Those commericals have long since vanished from the airwaves, but you can find them fairly easily on YouTube with a simple search. Feel free to sing along when you get there.


1.13 What's the connection between Sarah Palin and Dr Pepper?

Sarah Palin, you might recall, was the 11th Governor of Alaska, and--before she resigned from office in the middle of her first term--was also John McCain's choice to be the Vice Presidential nominee on the Republican Presidential ticket for 2008. After Democratic Senator Barack Obama won a decisive victory over McCain in the 2008 Presidential election, Republicans at all levels blamed many different people for their loss--including each other. In particular, members of McCain's campaign placed a great deal of the blame on a "shopping spree" of Sarah Palin's that totaled in excess of $150,000 for clothes and accessories which were ultimately paid for by the Republican National Committee. After the election, Newsweek magazine quoted one McCain aide who described the spree as "Wasilla hillbillies looting Neiman Marcus from coast to coast."

In response to these allegations, Sarah Palin told reporters on November 7, 2008, that the various news accounts about the clothes-shopping were incorrect:

"The RNC purchased clothes. Those are the RNC's clothes. They're not my clothes. I never forced anybody to buy anything. I never asked for anything more than maybe a Diet Dr Pepper once in a while."

So, who do you suppose is more thrilled? The Dr Pepper company, knowing that Sarah Palin is a fan? Or Hillary Clinton, knowing that she and Ms. Palin now have something in common?


1.14 Is Dr Pepper really suing itself?

Just when you think corporate America might have run out of stupid things to do, along comes a story that makes you wonder if lawyers get paid a bonus to come up with new ways of screwing people just for the fun of it. Allow me to quote from the Dr Pepper Snapple Group's press release titled "Dr Pepper Snapple Group Files Suit against Bottler Violating Dr Pepper License Agreement," a missive which was obviously written by someone who has never heard of "The Goose That Laid The Golden Eggs":

Dr Pepper Snapple Group, Inc. (NYSE: DPS) today [June 28, 2011] announced a lawsuit against Dr Pepper Bottling Co. of Dublin, Texas, in an effort to end numerous practices by the bottler that violate its license agreement.

The suit, filed today by DPS subsidiary Dr Pepper/Seven Up, Inc., in U.S. District Court in the Eastern District of Texas, charges that the Dublin bottling company is selling Dr Pepper beyond the six-county territory designated in its license agreement. The suit also seeks to end the bottler’s unauthorized use of the term “Dublin Dr Pepper” on product packaging and on other merchandise.

“Dr Pepper is one of the most iconic trademarks in the U.S. because of its one-of-a-kind taste and the many Dr Pepper bottlers across the country who’ve helped us build the brand and its passionate consumer following over a span of 126 years,” said Jim Johnston, president of beverage concentrates for DPS. “In the simplest terms, the bottler in Dublin is using a logo that is no longer authorized and is taking business from fellow Dr Pepper bottlers who play by the rules and sell within their defined territories. We owe it to our other bottlers to stop these unauthorized practices.”

DPS owns the Dr Pepper brand and through its subsidiaries licenses it to more than 170 bottlers across the U.S. and Canada. Dr Pepper Bottling Co. of Dublin’s license territory includes Comanche County, Texas, and parts of five nearby counties in Central Texas. However, the bottler is violating its agreement by selling Dr Pepper beyond its territory via its website, a toll-free telephone number and to retailers and restaurants in areas licensed to other Dr Pepper bottlers.

The Dublin bottler is one of several Dr Pepper bottlers in the U.S. to use cane sugar as the sweetener in its product, but it is the only one to use the Dr Pepper trademark in an unauthorized manner. According to the lawsuit, marketing the product as “Dublin Dr Pepper” undermines the integrity of the Dr Pepper trademark, creates a misconception among consumers that the product is different from other Dr Pepper made with cane sugar and is unfair to bottlers who have the exclusive rights to sell Dr Pepper in bottles and cans to consumers in their territories.

So, in other words, because the Dublin Dr Pepper company sells a version of Dr Pepper made with Imperial Pure Cane Sugar as a sweetener, a sweetener which Dublin proudly indicates on its cans and bottles to distinguish them from versions of Dr Pepper that use other sweeteners such as High Fructose Corn Syrup, a distinction which has proven to be so popular that Dublin has no problem selling its cane sugar sweetened beverage to customers worldwide to keep up with its demand, a demand which has been constant ever since the Dublin plant opened for business in 1891, a plant steeped in over a century of history, nostalgia, and affection for a beverage so beloved by its fans that they turn out by the thousands every year in June to celebrate the anniversary of the plant's opening, an affection reflected back by the Dublin company in the form of using the older Dr Pepper logos that collectors adore on its cans and bottles to further distinguish itself from the Dr Pepper not produced in Dublin, a business model which has been so successful that the Dublin plant has been in near continuous operation for over 120 years--because of all this, the Dr Pepper Snapple Group is suing them, in order to stop perhaps their most successful franchise from making all the other franchises look bad in comparison. This is why we can't have nice things!

Hey, it's not the end of the world. As the press release continues, "DPS is not currently seeking financial damages with the lawsuit. It is simply asking the court to require Dr Pepper Bottling Co. of Dublin to honor the terms of its license agreement or forfeit its license." Yeah, guys! All you have to do is stop putting anything unique on your cans, stop highlighting anything about Dublin or Imperial Pure Cane Sugar, stop selling to anyone outside of six counties in Texas, and basically stop doing anything that makes people around the world go way out of their way to buy your product, and we'll let you stay in business. Otherwise, close up shop. Not a financial matter at all!

It gets better. Says the press release: "The Dublin bottler could continue to produce Dr Pepper with cane sugar, but only in approved packaging and only in its assigned territory. Dr Pepper made with cane sugar is also available through other bottlers in many Texas markets, including Dallas/Fort Worth, Houston, Waco and Temple, as well as in parts of North Carolina." Great! So, if you live in one of five cities in Texas, or part of North Carolina, you'll have no problem buying Dr Pepper with cane sugar once this lawsuit is over. Everyone else in the other 48 states (and other parts unknown)? Well, there's a certain creek you might be up, without an accompanying paddle. But preventing people from buying a product they want to buy--a product which is making you money--is all part of being a good business, right? Suing success? Alienating customers? All good, right?

I don't know about you, but as a fan of Dublin Dr Pepper myself, I feel personally insulted. The Dublin company seems to share my agida, and responded to the lawsuit with a press release of its own, which stated in part:

“We are surprised to learn that our corporate partner has taken this action, but we are confident that this lawsuit will not succeed. We have been a loyal partner to Dr Pepper Snapple longer than any other bottler, and we’ve worked successfully with several different ownership groups for our parent company to become one of the company’s most successful franchisees. It is unfortunate that Dr Pepper Snapple’s attorneys are asking our overburdened court system to resolve what we believe is a business matter, but we look forward to telling our side of the story before a judge and jury, and we will continue to provide great products and great service to every one of our customers.”

If it were up to me, I would hope that DPSG drop its lawsuit against the DP with the IMK, ASAP. No amount of effort taken to wipe out all that is unique about Dublin Dr Pepper could possibly compensate for the inevitable customer backlash and loss of profits that would occur as a result. No bottom line is worth it if it is reached by being less of a person.

In the meantime, now might be a good time to order yourself some cane sugar Dr Pepper from Dublin, while you still can. Feel free to tell the corporate Dr Pepper company your opinion about this case too, if you desire. I urge you to be polite in all your communications with big (and small) businesses. This FAQ may be unofficial, but that doesn't mean we're uncivilized.


 

Section 2: The Drink, and How To Get It

2.1 Does Dr Pepper contain prune juice?

In a word: NO!

According to the Urban Legends Reference Pages at snopes.com: It doesn't, "but the rumor is remarkably long-lived, having been with us since about 1930."

In addition, Bottlecaps (the "Official Newsletter of the Dr Pepper Museum and Free Enterprise Institute") emphasizes in their Vol. I, 1999, issue: "Prune juice is not and never has been in Dr Pepper. The prune juice rumor is an old story that has been in circulation since the 1930s."

Also, the Dr Pepper company stated on their web site in 2000 that "prune juice is definitely not one of the ingredients." Currently, their web site repeats the corporate line in their FAQ: "Dr Pepper is a unique blend of natural and artificial flavors; it does not contain prune juice." 

And, as if that wasn't enough, the site for Dr Pepper/Seven Up, Inc. (when Dr Pepper was owned by Cadbury Schweppes Americas Beverages, a division of Cadbury Schweppes PLC) had offered at least three different assertions over the years: 

1) "its unique flavor comes from the blending of 23 fruits, none of which are prunes" 
2) "Dr Pepper is a unique blend of natural and artificial flavors; it does not contain prune juice";
3) "Dr Pepper is a unique blend of natural and artificial flavors; it does not and never has contained prune juice."

The corporation also used to highlight this "Fun Fact" on its web site back in 2003: "Contrary to popular misconception, Dr Pepper never has and never will contain prune juice."

Are we all clear on this now?


2.2 Okay, so what's in Dr Pepper?

On the label in the US, the ingredients are currently listed as: Carbonated Water; Imperial Pure Cane Sugar [or "High Fructose Corn Syrup and/or Sugar," if you're not so lucky]; Caramel Color; Phosphoric Acid; Artificial and Natural Flavors; Sodium Benzoate (Preservative); Caffeine.

Chris Dunthorne told me on July 3, 1998, that the ingredients on the label in the UK are a little different: "Carbonated Water, Sugar, Colour (Caramel E150d), Phosphoric Acid, Flavourings, Preservative (E211), Caffeine."

John Neely, a formerly anonymous Canadian, submitted "Ingredients from The Great White North" on October 27, 1998: "Carbonated Water, Sugar/Glucose-Fructose, Carmel colour, Artificial and Natural flavors, Phosphoric acid, sodium benzoate, Caffeine, monosodium phosphate, lactic acid, polyethelene glycol."

Trace McLean also on October 27, 1998, posted the ingredients for Australian Dr Pepper "taken straight from the bottle": "Carbonated water, sugar, colour (150), flavours, food acids (338, 270), preservative (211), caffeine."

Brad Dunham, on May 31, 2001, posted the ingredients for Dietetic Dr Pepper, circa 1963: "Carbonated water, caramel color, citric acid, phosphoric acid, caffeine, sodium cyclamate, sodium carboxymethylcellulose, sodium saccharin, monosodium phosphate, lactic acid, flavoring, spices, less than 1/20th of 1% benzoate of soda (preservative), .088% sodium cyclamate, .007% sodium saccharine, non-nutritive artificial sweeteners which should be used only by persons who must restrict their intake of ordinary sweets. No fat or protein. .28% available carbohydrates. 1/3 calorie per fl. oz."

Tom Reed posted the "modern" ingredients for Diet Dr Pepper in the U.S. on November 23, 1998: "Carbonated water, caramel color, aspartame, phosphoric acid, artificial and natural flavors, sodium benzoate (preservative), caffeine. Phenylketonurics: contains phenylalanine."

Prior to November 3, 2004, the Caffeine FAQ used to state that Dr Pepper contains 39.6 milligrams of caffeine in every 12-ounce can.  The Dr Pepper company, however, currently claims that its soda contains 41 mg of caffeine per 12-ounce can. Regardless of which amount is correct, this is still a little more than the amounts currently stated by Pepsi (37.5mg/12oz) and Coca-Cola (34.5mg/12oz), and nothing compared to coffee, which could contain anywhere between 111 and 300 mg of caffeine in a 12-ounce serving, depending on how it's prepared.

The Dr Pepper company had this to say in a pamphlet it published sometime in either the late 1950's or early 1960's: "Its unique flavor results from the blending of pure fruit flavors (gathered from throughout the world) with mystic spices, from far-off Madagascar, and clean, clear distilled sparkling water." You don't suppose one of those spices is vanilla, do you? On the company’s web site, they used to state the obvious: "It is a blend of many spices and flavor extracts. The color is supplied by caramel especially made for the product."

In addition, the company also said in 2001 that the concentrate for Dr Pepper is certified Kosher, but that "our products which contain High Fructose Corn Syrup may contain trace amounts of corn gluten," which means that while such products would still be considered "Kosher" for observant Jews (which, for a soft drink like Dr Pepper, probably means that it's "Pareve," or consumable without any further dietary restrictions), they still would not be "Kosher for Passover," when consumption of any form of corn (including HFCS) by observant Jews is specifically prohibited by certain Jewish dietary laws. Today, the company specifies that "It is the responsibility of each individual bottler to certify the finished product," and to "Please contact your local bottler to determine if the finished product is certified Kosher," which I suppose is Dr Pepper's way of passing the blame of any "de-Koshering" of their products onto the bottlers and not the home office. So, if a container of Dr Pepper (or any other soda pop) is only certified "Kosher," then it could be sweetened with either sugar or High Fructose Corn Syrup. But, if the soda is certified "Kosher for Passover" (also symbolized by a capital "P" for "Passover"), then it's sweetened with either beet sugar or cane sugar, and cannot contain High Fructose Corn Syrup, making it the more desirable drink for soda connoisseurs like myself--and you too, I imagine.

Brian McElroy posted to alt.fan.dr-pepper on January 19, 1998 (and emailed me a correction on June 6, 1998) about his visit to the Dublin Dr Pepper plant, which sounded like it definitively answered two questions at once:

"Just got back today from the Dublin bottling plant and museum. There has been a lot of debate on what flavor Dr Pepper really is, so I asked Mr. Kloster [Bill Kloster], the plant owner, who has worked in that plant for almost 60 years. According to him, Dr Pepper is a mix of 23 different fruit flavors. The original creator wanted to create a drink that tasted like the smell of a soda shop. When you walked into a soda shop in that day, you smelled all the fruit flavors of the different sodas all mixed into one. So he basically took a bunch of flavors and mixed them, and came up with Dr Pepper. He said Dr Pepper does not and has never had prune juice in it."

Alas, Brian may have been one of the last people to ask Bill Kloster that question. Mr. Kloster passed away on September 24, 1999, at age 81, having spent 67 of those years working for the Dublin Dr Pepper plant (minus two years off for service during World War II). His dedication to keeping pure cane sugar in Dr Pepper will be sorely missed.

However, this was not the end of the story.  Max Wolheim, who "can't guarantee the accuracy of any of this," posted this interesting article (with a small caveat) on June 20, 1999:

Yes, I've heard the "23 fruit flavors" of Dr. Pepper [sic] for years. I can tell you this is nonsense! I can't reveal the source (he'd get fired), but here is a list of some of the real flavoring ingredients:

Vanillin (imitation vanilla)
Extract of almond
denatured rum (no joke)
Oil of orange
lactic acid (optional; once listed separately from "flavorings")

Max went on to say: "None of this is will be confirmed by the PR people of the company, who reply with the evasive 'Dr. Pepper contains neither rum nor vanilla.' Substitutions are possible, depending on the bottler, so that Dr. Pepper in one part of the country might not taste quite the same as in some others. But denatured rum is universal to the formula." 

For years, I treated that post as merely an above-average speculation.  Now, however, thanks to an anonymous friend of the FAQ who sent me some intriguing information that was gathered from a public library, I feel the ingredients might be a little more on target than I previously thought.  The information looked authentic to me, but I'll let you be the judge since it contains considerably less than 23 ingredients.  For your consideration: the "formulae" to create a 7-ounce glass of Dr. Pepper (back when it had the period), circa 1912, as allegedly dictated by R.S. Lazenby, the man credited with modifying Charles Alderton's original recipe to make it tastier:

"Simple syrup" is usually made by combining two parts sugar with one part water (the ratio can vary to taste), and heating until the sugar is completely dissolved.  "U.S.P." in this context probably means that the phosphoric acid should meet the standards set by the United States Pharmacopeia, which contains the guidelines for how various medicinal compounds should be prepared in the United States (this drink was invented by a pharmacist in a drug store, remember?).  For those of you not up on your apothecarian measures, a "minim" is equal to 1/480 of a fluid ounce, or about 0.06 milliliters; and a "grain" equals about 0.002 ounces, or about 65 milligrams.  As you can see, this means the quantities of the flavorings involved are very small.  Add all this to 7 ounces of cold carbonated water, and you now have a turn-of-the-last-century Dr. Pepper ready to drink--assuming all this is authentic, of course.

"But," you might ask, "where's the caffeine?  It's mentioned in all the ingredient lists at the beginning of the question!"

Funny thing:  It turns out Dr Pepper was originally caffeine-free from its inception in 1885 all the way up to 1917, when the President of the Dr Pepper Company decided it was OK to add caffeine to the soda.  Caffeine was removed once again in 1939 and substituted with Vitamin B-1; but the B-1 was removed and the caffeine reinstated shortly afterwards (I don't know exactly when; I'm guessing sometime before the U.S. entered World War II) because the "healthier" formula tasted "bad" compared to the caffeinated version.  The caffeine-free version that we (or some of us, anyway) know today first appeared in 1983, and can still be found if you know where to look (hint, hint: question 2.7).  So, while today's Dr Pepper may not be exactly the same version as the 1885 original, it probably is the best tasting version--provided it has cane sugar in it, which truly has been part of the soda from the very beginning.


2.3 What's the recipe for Hot Dr Pepper?

Hot Dr Pepper? Yes, indeed. It's a real drink, and it's been around for quite a while--at least since the early 1960's (even though there's no mention of it at all in the 1965 edition of Cookin' With Dr Pepper--go figure). However, since Dr Pepper--and the soft drink industry in the U.S. as a whole--switched from cane sugar to high fructose corn syrup as a sweetener, many people have complained that Hot Dr Pepper does not taste nearly as good as it did before the switch, so the Dr Pepper company has refrained from promoting the recipe as ardently as it had in the past. Nevertheless, people still drink it hot, with the recommendation that Dr Pepper with cane sugar be used for best results (see question 2.6 for how to get some cane sugar Dr Pepper for yourself).

The recipe itself is quite simple: First, cut a nice, thin, round slice of lemon for yourself and place it in the bottom of a cup--I suppose a coffee mug or teacup works best. Next, heat your Dr Pepper in a saucepan until it looks like it's boiling (even though it'll only be about 180° F, the carbonation will make it look hotter). Then pour your "steaming" hot Dr Pepper into the cup, over the lemon slice. That's it! I still haven't tried it yet myself, but people who have swear it's pretty good.

(There is an official recipe on the www.drpepper.com web site, but it's not too much different from the one above. Then again, how many different ways can you say "Heat Dr Pepper and pour it over lemon"?)


2.4 What Dr Pepper imitations exist, and where can you find them?

"I had a Mr. Pibb. Mr. Pibb is a replica of Dr Pepper, but it's a bullshit replica, 'cause dude didn't even get his degree. Why'd you have to drop out and start making pop so soon?"

-- Mitch Hedberg, May 2003

The most famous (or is that infamous?) imitation, Mr. Pibb, was Coca-Cola's unsuccessful effort to drive the good Dr out of the market. According to misterpibb.com (a very thorough Pibb site maintained by Phil Thomas that seems to have vanished from the face of the earth sometime in 2004), "Mr. PiBB was born in the summer of 1972," with test-marketing beginning on June 28 of that year. Chris Houser on his Pibb page back in the 1990's stated the drink was "originally sugar-free," but that seems to be incorrect since Thomas had a very detailed section on the history of sugar-free Mr. Pibb, "a saccharin-sweetened version of [the] spicy cherry carbonated soda," which was apparently first test-marketed in 1973.  In any event, Mr. Pibb no longer exists as such.  Coca-Cola changed the name to "Pibb Xtra" in 2001, describing the remarketed beverage as "a bolder version of the original Mr. Pibb taste." You can find Pibb Xtra in most places in the Southern and Midwestern U.S., and in only a handful of locations in the Northeastern U.S.

Interestingly enough, Advertising Age also reported in their December 1, 1997, issue that Coca-Cola was planning to release a brand new knock-off of Dr Pepper sometime in 1999--probably due in no small part to sluggish sales of Mr. Pibb, which had only a 0.6% share of the US soft drink market in 1996, compared to Dr Pepper's 5.8% share. Do you suppose Pibb Xtra was the new concoction they were writing about? Or did Coca-Cola decide to quit while they were ahead--or is that behind?

Originally, I had a table here listing 38 different DP clones, but then I saw a web site with a table listing over 50 clones, including pictures and locations where they were all bought, so I decided to leave well enough alone. Suffice it to say, if all accounts are accurate, there are over 70 different past and present Dr Pepper imitations out there--and none quite as good as the original, of course. If you want to know more, these sites stand out:

Wouldn't you like to be a Pepper too . . . is the largest index of clones and clone sites that I've seen. The leader in the field with a mega-list of imitations and a picture next to each name. The compilation picture of fakes is worth a visit all by itself, but the rest of the site is no slouch either.

Kibo's Fake Dr Pepper Roundup has a taste test of several fakes.

Dr. Beverages Page is a colorful list of the various Pepper-like soda cans collected by Lars Christensen. (The Tripod site replaces the arizona.edu site.)

The (Not Very) Authoritative Doctor Soda Page lives up to its (now parenthetically appropriate) title, listing only 27 sodas total (and that's including Dr Pepper and Diet Dr Pepper). But since the author's from MIT, I'll forgive them; people there have more important things to do than track down all the DP clones in existence.

Dr Pepper Rip-Off Page is an evangelistic clone page, waging war against all "infidels" who dare to doubt the superiority of the original.

Dr. Pepper and the Imposters is a short page which offers some large pictures of the original and some imitations to those interested.

Fake Dr Pepper Land is a slick looking site that gives you a brief tour of a few dozen imitators via Flash animation. I must admit, it has some of the most nicely photographed cans out there; but the site is also completely lacking in details about the individual brands themselves. The best feature: Free desktop wallpaper of all the fakes in one place! It's not quite as impressive as the massive picture of fakes on the "Wouldn't you like to be a Pepper too..." site, but it will fit on your screen all in one shot.

The Quest Of The Dr. Thunder Clones is a site that I seemed to have overlooked in my travels, since I first noticed it in April, 2003, and it doesn't look like it's been updated since April, 1999. I suppose I'm lucky I didn't miss it altogether, considering how so many of these other sites have disappeared! Anyway, this site turns the clone idea on its head, by presenting 9 drinks which are allegedly clones of Dr. Thunder--and one of the clones is Dr Pepper?! See for yourself; there's not much else there.

drjason.com contains a list of several clones, many of which come with a photo or two.

The Van Gogh-Goghs' Doctor Soda Taste Test! compares 46 different sodas (45 clones plus the original), which should be enough to keep most people busy for a while. Their main page: http://www.vgg.com/drsodas/

There were once even more imitation sites out there, but--like so many other places on the Internet--a bunch have shuffled off this electronic coil.  Fortunately, the Internet Archive Wayback Machine has saved most of them from total extinction, and links to those ancient sites are provided where available below.  Among the missing and fossilized are:

The Dr Pepper "Clone" Page last seen at
http://library.cmsu.edu/kw/pepper/imapep.htm
http://www.lib.msu.edu/weessie2/pepper/imapep.htm

Dr Pepper Clones last seen at
http://www.stat.ncsu.edu/~bmasmith/drpepper.html

Dr Kenton's Generic Dr Peppers last seen at
http://www.senselessknowledge.com/drkenton.html
http://www.kentonville.com/drkenton1.html
http://www.kentonville.com/drkenton.html

OOO's list of Dr. Pepper Clones [sic] last seen at
http://www.polyholiday.com/lists/pepperclones.html
(probably serves it right for calling itself "officially the original list" of clone sites)

The Dr. is IN!!! last seen at
http://members.aol.com/zumbles/clones.html
(probably serves it right for containing the exact same list as the one on polyholiday.com)

Mmmmmm... Dr. Drinks last seen at
http://mombasa.anthro.utah.edu/wooding/Dr.Drinks/

Not Quite What The Doctor Ordered  last seen at
http://www.fakedrpepper.com

Dr. Pepper Rip Off Reviews [sic]  last seen at
http://polar.ucdavis.edu/%7Ekitmitto/pepper.html

Dr. Schnee Memorial Chapel  last seen at
http://www.thespleenpress.org/schnee/

Dr Crap at afiler.com  last seen at
http://www.afiler.com/weirdfood/

Dr. Goldberg  last seen at
http://www.livewithouta.net/dr_goldberg/

Robert Paloutzian's El Genero® Brand Web Page  last seen at
http://www.paloutzian.com/robert/pepperclone.htm

I'm a Pepper!  last seen at
http://www.freezepop.net/pepper/
This page used to be part of the greater freezepop.net site, dedicated to the band, freezepop. There was chronicled an annual taste-test of clones which took place every year from 1999 to 2002, and one more time in 2009. It's deserving of props for the effort, detail, and breadth going into these tastings each time; and though I did take the authors to task a while ago for singling out Dr Pepper for its "pruney-ness" (see question 2.1 if you're still not sure about the prunes yourself), the tasting trail that's been blazed in the interim has made up for it. Well done!  I only hope the tastings resume at some point.

In addition, a brand new category was added to Yahoo! on November 12, 1998 (the same date this FAQ was added to Yahoo!): Home : Society and Culture : Food and Drink : Drinks and Drinking : Dr Pepper : Imitations. And all six "New" sites in this category were--drum roll please--the first six sites from the original list way back when there were only six sites to choose from. In other words, this FAQ was responsible for a new Yahoo! category! And to think I thought I wasn't influencing anyone.  On the down side, only four sites are listed there now, and only three of them are still valid.

Way back in the day, another search engine named dmoz.org also came up with a category for DP pretenders:

http://dmoz.org/Recreation/Collecting/Food_and_Drink_Related/Soda/Dr_Pepper/Imitations/

Last time I checked, dmoz.org had more sites listed than Yahoo!, but both still couldn't compare to the list above you now. Whether either one will catch up before the other--or whether either of them still care--is anyone's guess.

Incidentally, good ol' Google has a category on the subject as well:

http://www.google.com/Top/Recreation/Collecting/Food_and_Drink_Related/Soda/Dr_Pepper/Imitations/

That page has the same bunch of sites as the other two engines above.  But don't stop there: enter the terms "dr pepper imitations" (without the quotes) in Google's search field, and you get 327,000 results.  And by the way: enter the terms "dr pepper faq" (without quotes) in Google, and what comes up as the first result?  You're reading it!  I win!


2.5 What's the difference between Dr Pepper made with Imperial Cane Sugar, and Dr Pepper made with high fructose corn syrup?

In the opinion of almost everyone who's tried it and commented on it either on alt.fan.dr-pepper or to me in person, the cane sugar version tastes better. Cane sugar is also the sweetener which was originally used to make Dr Pepper in the first place. Personally, I think the taste of the cane sugar product is more well-rounded and less fizzy than the one with high fructose corn syrup--more like a punch than a soda pop.


2.6 How can I get some cane sugar Dr Pepper?

You can either:

a) Visit the plant in Dublin, Texas--the oldest Dr Pepper bottling plant in the world and, for many years, the only plant in the U.S. which was allowed by the Dr Pepper corporation to still manufacture the soda with cane sugar instead of high fructose corn syrup. The Dublin Dr Pepper Bottling Company is located at 221 South Patrick, Dublin, Texas 76446, one block south of the intersection of US377/67 and TX6. The plant is open Monday through Friday, 9am-5pm; Saturday, 10am-5pm; and Sunday, 1-5pm. You can also call them at 1-254-445-3466 for tour information, etc.

b) Visit most stores within a 50 mile radius of the Dublin plant--which is the territory covered by it.

c) Call up Old Doc's Soda Shop in Dublin at 1-888-398-10-2-4, or 1-254-445-3939 and they can tell you how much it costs to have "The Real Thing" shipped to you. You can even order it online right now! Click here and all will be revealed.

Be forewarned that no matter how you buy it from Dublin, there is a 25 case limit. Any more than that sold to a single person could violate franchise agreements (because you could be "dealing" if you have more than 25 cases in your possession and transport them into another franchise's territory).

d) Visit the Dr Pepper Museum in Waco, Texas, in person (see question 3.4 for their address), and you can buy loose bottles and cans of the cane sugar soda in their gift shop--but not at their soda fountain. The way they explain it, the museum is not allowed to sell the soda "to drink" at their fountain with all their other sodas, but they are allowed to sell it "closed" at their gift shop, as long as they only sell it in person to museum customers. I telephoned the museum and asked: "Does that mean you can’t drink it anywhere on the premises?" "Well, our customers can do whatever they want after they buy it," the kind woman on the other end responded. The museum does not ship the cane sugar product anywhere, which may be why you never heard of it on their web site.

e) If you want to drink some cane sugar Dr Pepper with your meal, you can safely do so at Love & War in Texas, a restaurant located at 601 E. Plano Parkway in Plano, Texas. A member of their staff confirmed for me that they do serve "the genuine article" every day for lunch and dinner. How do they get it? They drive up to Dublin and buy a few cases, like everyone else. They even have a web site at loveandwarintexas.com, where you can view their Texas-themed menu up close--or as up close as you can get on the web. Their phone number is 1-972-422-6201, and if you’ve got nine friends coming with you, they’ll even let you make reservations.

f) If you want to get some groceries along with your cane sugar Dr Pepper, you can find both at Central Market in Dallas, Texas, located at 5750 E. Lovers Lane at Greenville Avenue. You can email them at cox.michael@heb.com or call them at 1-214-234-7000 for more detailed information. They even cater!

g) If you’re in Seattle, Washington, you can drop by Real Soda, a store that specializes in selling soda in glass bottles, soda with cane sugar (such as the aforementioned cane sugar DP), soda in long neck bottles, soda imported from Europe and Mexico, and so on. Their street address is 459 N. 36th St., and their phone number is 1-206-633-1092. If you don’t feel like traveling there in person, there is an affiliated web site where you can order the soda at www.sodaking.com. However, if you only want to discuss the soda, there are (or will be soon) message boards for that at www.realsoda.com. And you thought I had too much to say on the subject?

h) Though Dublin has long been regarded as the only game in town, I've heard from more than one source that the Temple Bottling Company in Temple, Texas, also bottles Dr Pepper made with sugar instead of HFCS. The company's exact address is 3510 Parkway Drive, Temple, Texas 76501, and their phone number is 254-773-3376. More information on this and other bottlers will be coming in the not-to-distant future.


2.7 How can I get some caffeine-free Dr Pepper?

Out of all the questions I see about Dr Pepper, this one is probably the most perplexing. I mean, it's not like people looking for caffeine-free Dr Pepper are looking for anything complicated. In fact, regular Dr Pepper itself was originally caffeine-free for the first 32 years it existed. Caffeine-free Coke and caffeine-free Pepsi are certainly easy enough to find, so caffeine-free Dr Pepper must be right next to them on the shelf, right?

Well, for the most part, no. For example, if you live in New York City, like myself, then you won't find any caffeine-free Dr Pepper within 100 miles of the city limits! Does that make any sense? Living in the largest city in the United States and not being able to find one caffeine-free can of my favorite soda? Well, there's a fairly decent chance you're in the same boat I am. Back in 2001, a representative from Dr Pepper gave me a list of all the states where caffeine-free Dr Pepper was being distributed:

Arizona
Georgia
Indiana
Iowa
Kansas
Kentucky
Louisiana
Maryland
Mississippi
Missouri
North Carolina
Ohio
Oklahoma
Texas
Utah
Virgina
West Virginia

Today, however, the situation may be slightly more optimistic. A representative in 2008 emphatically denied that caffeine-free Dr Pepper's availability was limited to any particular region of the country, insisting that the drink is for sale nationwide. In his words, "If any store doesn't have it, it's because of a decision of the store to not order it, not because of any policy of Dr Pepper."

This echoes a position from 2002 by David Severs, an area sales manager for the Dr Pepper/Seven Up Bottling Group in Iowa, who placed the problem squarely on local bottlers. “Anyplace the DPSUBG has the rights to Dr Pepper it also carries caffeine free pepper,” he said. “The only reason why you can’t find it in other parts of the country is because most coke and pepsi bottlers choose not to carry it.”

As true as this may be, the Dr Pepper Company may also be a little less than enthusiastic about putting customers in contact with its caffeine-free version. The following question and answer on the corporation’s web site some years back didn’t exactly ease my suspicions:

Q: Where can I find caffeine-free Dr Pepper products?
A: The decision to produce caffeine-free Dr Pepper and Diet Dr Pepper is up to local bottlers, based upon market conditions such as demand and shelf space. While Dr Pepper and Diet Dr Pepper are available throughout the U.S., their caffeine-free counterparts are not.

Everything you need to know--except where you can find caffeine-free Dr Pepper products, of course.

But now--thanks to some blind luck and a few toll-free phone calls--I can share with you an easy three-step solution to getting some gold-colored cans of your own:

a) First, look around in your supermarket. If you're lucky, a bottle of the stuff will be sitting right on the shelf, and your troubles are over. However, I'm guessing you've probably already done that, otherwise you wouldn't need to know the answer to this question. So . . .

b) If you can't find caffeine-free Dr Pepper in any store near you, call the Dr Pepper company toll-free at 1-888-DRPEPPER (1-888-377-3773), navigate the voicemail tree to the "Product Locator Service," and enter your zip code at the appropriate prompt. If you’re lucky, you might be pleasantly surprised and told the number of a retailer who might not be as far away as you thought. Or, if you’re not so lucky, you might be told that no one makes caffeine-free Dr Pepper within 100 miles of where you live. In which case, you could either turn this into a road trip to find the drink (might be fun, who knows), petition your local store to start carrying the drink, beg your local big box store or supermarket to stock it (CostCo, Target, Albertsons, and the dreaded Wal-Mart were singled out by a representative when I asked for some examples of chain stores likely to have it), or, if all else fails . . .

c) Call up Old Doc's Soda Shop (that's right, the very same people who can ship you the Imperial Cane Sugar Dr Pepper in question 2.6) at 1-888-398-10-2-4, or 1-254-445-3939 and they will gladly ship out some genuine caffeine-free Dr Pepper to you as long as you tell them that it's not available in your area (which I'm guessing it isn't, otherwise why would you go through all the trouble to have it shipped to you from Dublin, Texas?). You can also order it online through their web site here. They even have the diet caffeine-free variety for sale, if you desire. What more could you want?

Bear in mind that there is no purely cane sugar version of caffeine-free Dr Pepper available; even the caffeine-free DP from Old Doc's has high fructose corn syrup in it. But I'm guessing once you have it in your hands you'll be so happy just drinking it that the sweetener issue will be the least of your concerns. And for those of you wondering how it tastes: when it’s ice cold, it tastes exactly like regular DP made with high fructose corn syrup, and when it warms up it tastes just a tiny bit weaker than the caffeinated stuff--probably lacking the very “bite” the caffeine provides. But it’s certainly worth it if you want to cut back on caffeine without cutting back on the King of Beverages.

Now, if I can just get someone to sell the stuff in New York City, then I'll really be happy.


2.8 What's this "Red Fusion" drink I've heard about?

According to a 2002 press release from Dr Pepper/Seven Up, Inc., "Red Fusion [is] the first new flavor addition to the Dr Pepper line-up in its 117-year history. Sporting an alluring red color and use of a variety of fruit flavors, including the basic flavor profile of Dr Pepper." According to me, it tasted like Dr Pepper mixed with cherry syrup, whose color was enhanced by a good dose of Red #40. As part of a sudden surge of "alternate" major-brand soft drinks unleashed that same year, Red Fusion was not especially sweet, nor as sickening as Pepsi Blue (which looked a little too much to me like Windex), and not as mellow as Vanilla Coke. But, as far as occupying a permanent place in my fridge?  That didn't happen.  I guess I wasn't the only one who felt that way, since Red Fusion was quietly discontinued in 2004 (and so was Pepsi Blue).


2.9 What are these "Cherry Vanilla," "Berries & Cream," "Cherry Chocolate," and "Cherry" flavors of Dr Pepper?

Cherry Vanilla Dr Pepper, and its counterpart Diet Cherry Vanilla Dr Pepper, were billed as "fountain classics" editions of the soda, according to a review of both drinks on bevnet.com in 2004. Cherry Vanilla Dr Pepper first went on sale on October 15, 2004, while the diet version launched on January 15, 2005. Although both drinks were originally destined for a "limited run" (six months at most for the regular version), they continued to be sold for about four more years until ceasing production by the beginning of 2009.

Berries & Cream Dr Pepper, and its partner Diet Berries & Cream Dr Pepper, were the second iteration of the "fountain classics" line, both launched at the beginning of April, 2006. Though this was ostensibly a nationwide release, I only had limited sightings of the diet version and no contact with the regular version here in my little corner of the Northeast, otherwise known as the largest city in the United States. I couldn't even find these drinks at Old Doc's, so I must have been destined to not drink them. Given the complete lack of any recent spottings of either drink, I think it's safe to say that this, too, has been been discontinued as of early 2009 (if not sooner).

Cherry Chocolate Diet Dr Pepper, a flavor with no apparent sugared antithesis, is a strictly diet version of the soda, first introduced in November, 2007. Named as "the third flavor extension in the brand's history" by a company press release (forgetting about Red Fusion awfully fast, weren't they?), this drink was also "only available for a limited time," and withdrew from the beverage arena at about the same as the other above versions, also achieving a discontinued status in early 2009.

Continuing the cherry theme, Dr Pepper Cherry and Diet Dr Pepper Cherry were introduced in March, 2009, with the non-diet version actually on sale in New York City for once! According to a commercial featuring Gene Simmons, the soda has a KEE-USS of cherry flavor, contained in the ingredient list under the drab heading of "Natural and Artificial Flavors," aided and abetted by a kiss of good ol' Red #40. Considerably smoother than Red Fusion, this particular blend makes a fine addition to the pantheon of other cherry-flavored sodas on the market (Cherry Coke, Wild Cherry Pepsi, Dr. Brown's Black Cherry soda, etc.), and is currently available at Old Doc's for a mere $10.00 per case. With any luck, maybe this variation will stick around for a while.


2.10 Is there a drink called a "Flaming Dr Pepper"?

There is an alcoholic drink with that nickname, but there are dozens of variations on the recipe. The most common one goes something like this:

Almost 1 shot Amaretto
enough 151 Proof Rum to top off the shot
1 glass of beer (your choice)

Pour the Amaretto into a shot glass. Top off the shot with the 151 Proof Rum. Ignite the Rum (yes, light it on fire). Drop the burning shot into the glass of beer to extinguish the flames. Drink quickly. Allegedly, this tastes just like a regular Dr Pepper, only with a "kick" you don't usually get from a soda pop.

Since this concoction involves both fire and alcohol, I'm not going to recommend that anyone drink this unless you're in a controlled environment with a fire extinguisher handy. If you burn your mouth, your dorm room, or anything else while lighting this up, I'm not taking any responsibility.


2.11 What is "Heritage Dr Pepper"?

In late 2009, the Dr Pepper company quietly rolled out a variation on their brand called "Heritage Dr Pepper," which is essentially the same as plain old Dr Pepper, only—as it says on its container—"Made with Real Sugar" instead of High Fructose Corn Syrup. This release came in the wake of the success of Pepsi Throwback (a version of Pepsi Cola made with sugar instead of HFCS) earlier that same year, concurrent with an increased availability of Mexican Coca-Cola (also made with sugar instead of HFCS) throughout the United States.

Even though the Heritage drink went out of production in 2010 about as quietly as it went in, it apparently met with some approval, as it was resurrected in a slightly different form in July, 2010, as "Dr Pepper Made with Real Sugar," and released as a limited edition in bottles and cans with collectible packaging that featured various logos and graphics from the beverage's 125-year history. The supply of this particular run dried up by the end of 2010, so if you still have any of these commemorative cans lying around, you should count yourself lucky.

To be clear, this product was not precisely the same as the Dr Pepper made with cane sugar from Dublin in question 2.6. For one thing, the Heritage and "Made with..." drinks were both made in relatively small batches with limited availability both in terms of geography and duration. The Dublin drink, on the other hand, can be shipped almost anywhere in the world, and has been in production practically non-stop since 1891. However, the more important difference is in the sweeteners. Whereas the Heritage drinks were sweetened with "sugar," which could be either cane sugar, beet sugar, or a combination of both; the Dublin drink is explicitly sweetened with "Imperial Pure Cane Sugar," not from beets. A small difference to some, but enough to keep the drinks separate. Still better than the HFCS variety though, in my opinion.


 

Section 3: Ads, Merchandise, Museums, and Literature

3.1 Why drink Dr Pepper at 10 o'clock, 2 o'clock, and 4 o'clock?

(Most of this info comes from the book The Legend of Dr Pepper/Seven Up.)

"Drink a bite to eat at 10, 2, and 4 o'clock," was the slogan for an ad campaign for Dr. Pepper that began in 1927.  A study that year authored by a Dr. Walter H. Eddy "found that human energy dropped to its lowest point at 10:30am, at 2:30pm and again at 4:30pm daily." J.B. O'Hara of Dr. Pepper asked Tracy-Locke-Dawson Inc. (an ad agency), to design a campaign around that information. The agency held a contest, and Earle Racey, one of their copywriters, won with his "10-2-4" idea--the idea being that drinking the sugary, caffeinated soda at 10am, 2pm, and 4pm would perk you up and get you through those impending energy drops a half-hour later. The slogan has endured in one form or another ever since.


3.2 What happened to the period after "Dr" in Dr Pepper?

Around 1950, the Dr. Pepper Company changed the font in the Dr Pepper logo to a slanted block-letter style, in which the lower case letter r resembled a diagonal line with a dot in the upper right-hand corner.  Unfortunately, when paired with a period, the "Dr." in Dr. Pepper looked more like "Di:" (Di + a colon), so the decision was made by the company to remove the period altogether.  As W.W. "Foots" Clements, the President of the Dr Pepper Company from 1969 to 1980, explained in a 1984 interview (quoted in The Legend of Dr Pepper/Seven Up):

"We took it out basically for two reasons.  One, cosmetic, to make the new trademark look like Dr Pepper, and the other, to get us away from the medicinal connotation."

This didn't stop soda jerks from calling the drink "M.D." in their jargon, according to Paul Dickson in The Great American Ice Cream Book (New York: Atheneum, 1972), but that's neither here nor there.


3.3 Who owns Dr Pepper? I heard it was owned by Coke/Pepsi/7-Up/etc.?

For almost a century, the Dr Pepper Company was an independent entity in one form or another--especially since 1902, the first year that the business officially became "The Dr Pepper Company." This changed in 1984, when Forstmann Little & Company bought Dr Pepper for $647 million. Forstmann Little's strategy was to flip the company for a higher value later on, but that didn't work out, as Dr Pepper was later sold to an investment group in 1986 for $416 million. That same year, Dr Pepper bought Seven-Up from tobacco company Philip Morris for $240 million, and the two combined drink companies officially became Dr Pepper/Seven-Up Companies Inc. in 1988.

The new conglomeration remained independent until 1995, when Cadbury Schweppes plc ("plc" standing for "public limited company", meaning that it's a company within the U.K. that sells shares to the public) bought Dr Pepper/Seven-Up Companies Inc. for $1.7 billion, and owned the company for 13 years afterwards.  Until fairly recently, Dr Pepper in the U.S. was also bottled by a roughly even mix of Coca-Cola, Pepsi-Cola, and independently-owned bottlers (which is probably where some of the confusion over ownership has occured).  However, in 2006, Cadbury Schweppes gained a majority interest in the Dr Pepper/Seven-Up Bottling Group, bought two other independent American bottlers, and renamed the bottling operation the Cadbury Schweppes Bottling Group, which handled most (but not all) of the Dr Pepper bottling in the United States.

This combined enterprise did not last long. On March 15, 2007, Cadbury Schweppes announced that the "America's Beverages" part of its business (which includes Dr Pepper) would become a separate independent company. On May 7, 2008, the divorce was official: The company now known as Dr Pepper Snapple Group Inc. began trading under the symbol DPS on the New York Stock Exchange, opening at $25 a share. The new company retains the bottling distribution that had been acquired by Cadbury Schweppes, "the largest independent bottling business in the U.S.," according to DPSG's web site. So, for the first time in over a decade, Dr Pepper is once again its own company, owned by no one except its shareholders.

In December, 1998, Coca-Cola caused a stir by paying Cadbury Schweppes $1.85 billion for the right to distribute Cadbury Schweppes sodas (including Dr Pepper) in 120 countries, but the United States was not one of them (neither were France or South Africa). As of this writing, this arrangement still appears to be in place. So, in the U.S., Dr Pepper will probably still be distributed by whoever has the local franchise rights, meaning that there will still be places where Coke doesn't own the franchise and will continue to sell Pibb Xtra to compete.


3.4 Is there a Dr Pepper museum?

There are two:

The Dr Pepper Museum and Free Enterprise Institute
300 South 5th Street
Waco, Texas 76701
1-877-DPGIFTS (toll free), 1-254-757-1025
Fax: 1-254-757-2221
www.drpeppermuseum.com
dp-info@drpeppermuseum.com

and:

Dublin Dr Pepper Bottling Co. Museum
Street address: 105 E. Elm St., Dublin, TX 76446
Museum mailing address: 221 S. Patrick St., Dublin, TX 76446
Toll free number for orders: 1-888-398-1024
Soda Shop/Gift Shop: 1-254-445-3939
Museum Office: 1-254-445-4210
Website: www.dublindrpepper.com
Museum E-mail: collections@dublindrpepper.com


3.5 Where can I buy Dr Pepper merchandise?

The Dr Pepper Museum in Waco has a catalogue section on its web site. You can also call the Museum toll-free at 1-877-DPGIFTS (or pay the toll at 1-254-757-1025) and, for $3.00, they will send you a glossy color catalogue and add your name to their mailing list.

The Dublin Dr Pepper Bottling Co. Museum had a catalogue available at one point, but as of March 18, 1999, the shop was out of them and its staff didn’t know when they were going to get more. Their website also doesn’t have as many links to merchandise now as it once did, the merchandise these days being limited to the soda itself (which isn’t a bad thing, after all). You can still take a look at http://dublindrpepper.com/sodashop.htm.

And, if you want to take a gamble with online auctions, eBay has around 3000 different Dr Pepper-related items up for bids every day on its site, so it’s certainly worth a look. Strangely enough, even though Dr Pepper/Seven Up enacted a “strategic alliance” with eBay in June, 2003, their combined “Liquid Loot” promotion seemed to be more geared to advertising 7-Up than anything else. (The lack of any Dr Pepper merchandise in that section was the tip-off.)


3.6 Where can I find this Dr Pepper collectible? Who can I contact to have this antique Dr Pepper item looked at?

The amount of Dr Pepper collectibles in existence (don't forget, that's over 120 years' worth) is even more numerous than the amount of DP clones, so I won't even try to list them all here. Max Arbogast's site used to have a bundle of information about DP collectors and collectibles back in the day; but, like so many other sites mentioned here, it has since ceased to exist. Of course, you could still check out eBay, which has about 3000 (more or less) different Dr Pepper items up for bids every day--many, if not all of them being collectibles.

Your best bet, however, may be the 10-2-4 Club, who describe themselves as "a national organization of people dedicated to the study of the history and collecting of memorabilia of the Dr Pepper Company." 10-2-4 membership information can currently be found at http://www.dublindrpepper.com/club.aspx.

Houston, Texas, also has its own chapter of the club (in fact, the only local chapter of the club), named the Houston Peppers. Jan Wright, the chapter President, informed me on July 4, 1998 that she can be contacted via email at hpeppers@swbell.net if anyone wants more information about them.


3.7 What books have been written about Dr Pepper?

There are three that have been around for a while: The Legend of Dr Pepper/Seven-Up, by Jeffrey L. Rodengen (1995, Write Stuff Syndicate); Dr Pepper, King of Beverages, by Harry E. Ellis (1979, Dr Pepper Co.; another edition was printed in 1986); and the Dr Pepper Centennial book, also by Harry Ellis. Of those three, The Legend of Dr Pepper/Seven-Up is the most widely available, and I was able to find it for sale on at least five different web sites (if not in person in any physical store near me in New York City--go figure). King of Beverages and the Centennial book are harder to find, in that order. The Dr Pepper Museum in Waco also sells all three books separately on its web site.

In 2006, another book joined the fray: The Road to Dr Pepper, Texas: The Story of Dublin Dr Pepper, by Karen Wright, focusing on the Dublin, Texas, angle on the drink, naturally. You can find this book for sale at Old Doc's Soda Shop and at several other sites on the web.

The Dr Pepper company has also published a slim volume titled Cooking With Dr Pepper in one form or another every so often since 1965. More specifically, different editions have been published in 1965, 1977, 1983, 1993, and 2001, the last two having a combination of recipes for Dr Pepper and for 7Up. The only difference between the 1977 and 1983 editions seems to be typographical, and the 1965 edition has a lot of recipes which didn’t survive in future editions (such as "Bean Dip A La Dr Pepper," among others). The 1993 and 2001 editions lack the glossy color photos of the first three, instead relying on a scant amount of clip-art for illustration. However, the last two editions also contained the greatest number of recipes among the five; essentially because they also contain a whole extra cookbook of 7Up recipes as well.

The last edition of those was also available as a free pdf file for several years on the Dr Pepper company's web site, but that link was discontinued when the company spun off from Cadbury Schweppes in 2008. Since it doesn't appear to be available anywhere else, I'm providing a link here until Dr Pepper starts offering it again. You'll need the Adobe Acrobat Reader to view it, of course.

If you like, you can try your luck at getting a paper copy by calling the Dr Pepper company’s Consumer Relations department directly at either 1-888-DRPEPPER (1-888-377-3773) or 1-800-696-5891, and see what happens. When I called, the representative who answered had no idea what I was talking about, but he took down my name and address anyway and promised to send me some information if anything turned up.

You can also try writing to Dr Pepper, using a modified version of the last known snail-mail address for the cookbook:

Cookbook
c/o Consumer Relations
Dr Pepper Snapple Group, Inc.
P.O. Box 869077
Plano, Texas 75086-9077

Past editions also periodically come up for auction on eBay, but I'll bet you already guessed that. For a web-based tongue-in-cheek appraisal of the 1965 edition, you can visit http://www.lileks.com/institute/gallery/drpepper/index.html for the Gallery of Regrettable Food’s take on it.

In addition, there is a book titled Travels with Dr. Pepper, by Pepper Worthington (1990, Free Will Baptist Press), which is described as "travel essays." And the Library of Congress lists a rather technical-sounding volume named Consumer perspectives on national and store brands: (1994) "conducted for Food Marketing Institute and Dr Pepper Company by Marketing Spectrum." I get the feeling that last book is a little drier than all the others, but I could be wrong.


3.8 How can I contact The Dr Pepper Company?

The official corporate offices of Dr Pepper can be reached by phone in the U.S. at 1-972-673-7000. Their "Consumer Relations" department can be contacted toll-free at 1-800-696-5891, or 1-888-DRPEPPER (1-888-377-3773) Monday through Friday from 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM Central Time. If you're a "journalist," you can call their "corporate communications department" (toll free) at 1-800-686-7398.

The Dr Pepper company used to have a ton of email addresses available, but now the only public method of contacting the company via the Internet is through this web form:

http://www.econsumeraffairs.com/am_bev/contactus.htm

You can also write to them via snail mail at:

Dr Pepper Snapple Group, Inc.
P.O. Box 869077
Plano, Texas 75086-9077

Or:

Dr Pepper Snapple Group, Inc.
5301 Legacy Drive
Plano, Texas 75024-9077


3.9 Where can I find Dr Pepper jelly beans?

First introduced as a "rookie" item in 1998, the Dr Pepper flavor jelly bean is now one of Jelly Belly's official 50 flavors, and should be available almost anywhere individual Jelly Belly flavors are sold. However, if you want to buy it online, you can also order packets of them through Old Doc's Soda Shop (as little as 1 ounce for $1.00), Amazon.com, and--in one-case increments--directly through Jelly Belly. The other 49 flavors are pretty good, too.


3.10 Where can I find Dr Pepper lip balm?

Believe it or not, there are at least two different companies making Dr Pepper lip balm in the United States:

The "lottaluv" company (lottaluv.com) has been manufacturing an officially licensed Dr Pepper-flavored lip balm since at least 2006, packaged at least four different ways (as "Lip Toppers, Lip Sips, Lip Machine, and Lip Poppers," according to their web site). Despite having such an assortment of lip balms in all kinds of unexpected flavors (Junior Mints lip gloss, anyone?), the one thing lottaluv.com seems to be lacking is a method for consumers to order their goods directly, without going through a middleman. Your best bet may be to try your local drug store first; if that fails, send an email to info@lottaluv.com and ask them what the deal is. Who knows? They might send you a coupon as a thank-you.

On the other hand, if more immediate satisfaction is what you're after, the Bonne Bell Company offers Dr Pepper "Lip Smackers" that are not only available in stores throughout the country, but also available for purchase on line right now both at Bonne Bell's web store and (of course) Old Doc's Soda Shop. I don't think you have any excuse for still having chapped lips anymore, do you?

 

Thus endeth the FAQ.


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