|Type Soft drink|
|Country of origin United States|
|Manufacturer Dr Pepper Snapple Group (2008-present; United States only)
The Coca-Cola Company (Europe only)
PepsiCo (Canada and Oceania only)|
Distributor Dr Pepper Snapple Group
Dr Pepper is a carbonated soft drink marketed as having a unique flavor. The drink was created in the 1880s by Charles Alderton in Waco, Texas and first served around 1885. Dr Pepper was first nationally marketed in the United States in 1904, and is now also sold in Europe, Asia, Canada, Mexico, Australia, and South America, as well as New Zealand and South Africa as an imported good. Variants include a version without high fructose corn syrup, Diet Dr Pepper, as well as a line of additional flavors, first introduced in the 2000s.
The U.S. Patent Office recognizes December 1, 1885, as the first time Dr Pepper was served. It was introduced nationally in the United States at the 1904 Louisiana Purchase Exposition as a new kind of soda pop, made with 23 flavors. Its introduction in 1885 preceded the introduction of Coca-Cola by one year.
It was formulated by Brooklyn-born pharmacist Charles Alderton in Morrison's Old Corner Drug Store in Waco, Texas. To test his new drink, he first offered it to store owner Wade Morrison, who also found it to his liking. Patrons at Morrison's soda fountain soon learned of Alderton's new drink and began ordering a "Waco". Alderton gave the formula to Morrison, who named it Dr. Pepper (later stylized as "Dr Pepper").
As with Coca-Cola, the formula for Dr Pepper is a trade secret, and allegedly the recipe is kept as two halves in safe deposit boxes in two separate Dallas banks. A persistent rumor since the 1930s is that the drink contains prune juice, but the official Dr Pepper FAQ refutes this with "Dr Pepper is a unique blend of natural and artificial flavors; it does not contain prune juice." The origin of the rumor is unknown; some believe it was started by a deliveryman for a competitor trying to cast aspersions based on prune juice's laxative effects, but it may simply be because many people feel that Dr Pepper's unique flavor tastes similar to prune juice.
Theories abound about the origins of the soft drink's name. One conjecture is the "pep" refers to pepsin. In 2009, an old ledger book filled with formulas and recipes was discovered by Bill Waters while shopping at antiques stores in the Texas Panhandle. Several sheets and letterheads hinted it had come from the W.B. Morrison & Co. Old Corner Drug Store (the same store where Dr Pepper was first served in 1885) and faded letters on the book's cover spelled out "Castles Formulas". John Castles was a partner of Morrison's for a time and worked at that location as early as 1880. One recipe in the book titled "D Peppers Pepsin Bitters" was of particular interest, and some speculated it could be an early recipe for Dr Pepper. However, Dr Pepper Snapple Group insists it is not the formula for Dr Pepper, but is instead a medicinal recipe for a digestive aid. The book was put up for auction in May 2009, but no one purchased it.
Like many early sodas, the drink was marketed as a brain tonic and energizing pick-me-up, so another theory holds that it was named for the pep it supposedly gave to users.
Others believe the drink was named after a real Dr. Pepper. One candidate is Dr. Charles T. Pepper of Rural Retreat, Virginia, who may have been so honored by Morrison either for having granted him permission to marry Dr. Pepper's daughter, or in gratitude to Pepper for having given Morrison his first job. However, Morrison lived nearly 50 miles from Rural Retreat, and Pepper's daughter was only eight years old at the time Morrison moved to Waco.
Another possibility is Dr. Pepper of Christiansburg, Virginia. U.S. Census records show a young Morrison working as a pharmacy clerk in Christiansburg. One of the following pages of this census supposedly shows a Dr. Pepper and daughter Malinda or Malissa, age 16. Since census takers of the period were walking door to door, and their census entries were on following pages, it seems likely that Morrison and the family of Dr. Pepper did not live very far from each other.
The period (full stop) after "Dr" was discarded for stylistic and legibility reasons in the 1950s. Dr Pepper's logo was redesigned and the text in this new logo was slanted. The period made "Dr." look like "Di:". After having been used intermittently in previous logos, followed by some debate, the period was removed permanently.
Legal and trade history
In 1951, Dr Pepper sued the Coca-Cola company for US$750,000, asserting that nickel Coca-Colas were sold below cost and were a restraint of trade.
In 1972, Dr Pepper sued the Coca-Cola company for trademark infringement based on a soft drink marketed by Coca-Cola called "Peppo". They tried naming it Dr. Pibb, which was also determined to violate the trademark. The soft drink was later renamed Mr Pibb.
Dr Pepper became insolvent in the early 1980s, prompting an investment group to take the company private. Several years later, Coca-Cola attempted to acquire Dr Pepper, but was blocked from doing so by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Around the same time, Seven Up was acquired from Phillip Morris by the same investment company that bailed out Dr Pepper. Upon the failure of the Coca-Cola merger, Dr Pepper and Seven Up merged (creating Dr Pepper/Seven Up, Inc., or DPSU), giving up international branding rights in the process. After the DPSU merger, Coca-Cola obtained most non-US rights to the Dr Pepper name (with PepsiCo taking the Seven Up rights).
Dr Pepper was a frequent player in the 1990s antitrust history of the United States. As part of these activities, economists and the courts have weighed in with the opinion that Dr Pepper is a "pepper" flavored drink and not a "cola". In 1995, the FTC blocked a merger between The Coca-Cola Company and Dr Pepper on grounds that included concerns about a monopoly of the "pepper" flavor category of soft drinks. In 1996, Dr Pepper was involved in an antitrust case involving Jerry Jones, the Dallas Cowboys, NFL Properties, Nike, and other commercial interests active at Texas Stadium in Irving, Texas. Jones had made deals with Dr Pepper and the other companies that, the league said, violated their exclusive marketing contracts with Coca-Cola and other businesses. The NFL agreed to allow Jones and other teams to pursue their own agreements.
In 1998, the "pepper" flavor soda category was a major part of the analysis supporting an antitrust case between Coca-Cola and Pepsi.
Much of the soft drink industry in the United States stopped using sugar in the 1980s, in response to a series of price supports and import quotas introduced beginning in 1982 that increased the price of sugar above the global market price. As a result, most US soft drinks, including Dr Pepper, now use high fructose corn syrup instead of sugar.
A handful of United States bottling plants still use sugar to sweeten Dr Pepper. The Dr Pepper bottling plant in Dublin, Texas used to produce such a beverage, known as Dublin Dr Pepper. In the 1980s, plant owner W.P. "Bill" Kloster (June 7, 1918 – September 27, 1999) refused to convert the plant to high fructose corn syrup. Other bottlers still using sugar include Temple Bottling Company, in Temple, Texas, Ab-Tex in Abilene, and West Jefferson Dr Pepper (WJDP) of West Jefferson, NC.
On March 25, 2007, Coca-Cola bottlers in the Dr Pepper Heartland commenced sales of 16 ounce cans of Dr Pepper made with cane sugar and featuring a logo with 'Old Doc' on them. This product was scheduled to be a limited time release.
In January 2009, "Heritage Dr Pepper" became available in select markets in cans and 16 oz bottles with the distinction "Made with Real Sugar."
Beginning in July 2010, Dr Pepper's 125th Anniversary edition in some markets was made with sugar as opposed to other sweeteners. Since Dr Pepper Corporate has no control over whether the bottlers will use sugar, there is no guarantee the soda will have sugar.
As of January 2012, the bottling plant in Dublin, Texas, is no longer bottling Dr Pepper.
The soft drink industry in some other countries never stopped using sugar as a sweetener. For instance in the European Union, high fructose corn syrup is subject to a production quota. In 2005, this quota was set at 303,000 tons; in comparison, the EU produced an average of 18.6 million tons of sugar annually between 1999 and 2001. Therefore, most European soft drink producers, including most Dr Pepper bottling plants, still use sugar to sweeten their products. However, the bottlers of Dr Pepper in Germany and the United Kingdom use instead a combination of sugar and artificial sweeteners.
In the United States, Dr Pepper Snapple Group does not have a complete network of bottlers and distributors, so the drink is sometimes bottled under contract by Coca-Cola or Pepsi bottlers. Prior to the initial Cadbury Schweppes investment-turned-buyout, 30% of Dr Pepper/Seven Up products were produced and distributed by Pepsi bottlers, and another 30% by Coca-Cola bottlers. The remaining 40% were produced and distributed by independent bottlers (mainly consisting of Dr Pepper/Seven Up premerger regional bottlers) and the Dr Pepper/Seven Up Bottling Group. Currently, the majority of Pepsi and Coke bottlers bottling Dr Pepper are owned by PepsiCo and The Coca-Cola Company after their buyouts of their major bottlers.
Presently, Dr Pepper Snapple relies on its own bottling group to bottle and distribute its products in more than 30 states. Coca-Cola and Pepsi have essentially stopped bottling and distributing CSAB products in favor of in-house alternatives, although regional exceptions can be found.
In Canada and Poland, Cadbury-Schweppes has licensed distribution rights to PepsiCo. In Mexico, Germany, Sweden, the Netherlands, Slovakia, Finland, Austria, Czech Republic, Belgium, and Norway, Cadbury-Schweppes owns the trademark and distributes the product. In Romania, it can be found only in larger cities, imported from Belgium. In Portugal, Spain, France, Turkey, and Greece, it is almost impossible to find, as it is usually imported from the United Kingdom in particular supermarkets. In almost all of the other countries of the world, the Coca-Cola Company purchased the trademark from Cadbury-Schweppes and distributes the product. This mixed worldwide ownership of the trademark is due to antitrust regulations which prevented Coca-Cola from purchasing the rights everywhere. Dr Pepper is also available in Russia, South Korea and Ukraine. Although not locally bottled in Australia or New Zealand, Dr Pepper is imported and sold by United States Foods, and many other small retailers in Australia. Dr Pepper is not available in Thailand, Italy, North Korea and Serbia. It is rarely sold in the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore, as it is imported from the United States.
Dr Pepper has been sold in Japan since 1973 and is widely available in greater Tokyo, Okinawa and parts of the Tōkai region, where it is distributed by local Coca-Cola bottlers. It is not actively marketed in other regions of Japan; Coca-Cola's Osaka bottler began selling Dr Pepper in 1983, but pulled the product two years later due to low sales.
"Dr Pepper Time", according to one promotion, was at 10, 2 and 4 o'clock. During World War II, a syndicated radio program, The 10–2–4 Ranch (later titled 10–2–4 Time), aired in the South and other areas where Dr Pepper was distributed. The show featured the Sons of the Pioneers and Dick Foran. In the 1960s, the tune of the chorus of "The Glow-Worm" was used in ads, with lyrics which ended, "It's Dr Pepper Time!"
In the 1960s, Dr Pepper released the "Charge" ad:
Get Going Again,
With the Dr Pepper Difference.
The "Be a Pepper" series referred to fans of Dr Pepper as "Peppers", and often featured large, sequential, crowd dance scenes, intricately choreographed by Tony Stevens and led onscreen by actor David Naughton. A recurring jingle was:
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.
This became grist for a number of pop culture references and parodies. One of the first was a July 1981 sketch on the program SCTV, in which an overly-excited injured man (Eugene Levy) extols the work of a "Dr Shekter" (Rick Moranis) who has been treating him. Levy and a group of patients wearing casts and crutches engage in their own elaborate dancing and singing ("Wouldn't you like to see my doctor, too?"), which Shekter first uses as an opportunity to explain his work, and then grows alarmed ("These people should not be dancing!"). In the 1982 sex farce Beach Girls, the slogan became "I'm a popper, he's a popper..." Wreck-Gar parodied the slogan in The Return of Optimus Prime.
After appearing in a series of commercials, David Naughton had his breakthrough film role as the main character in the John Landis film An American Werewolf in London. Another famous "I'm a Pepper" dancer was Ray Bolger, the actor who played the Scarecrow in the film The Wizard of Oz.
In the early 1960s, Dr Pepper promoted the idea of serving the drink hot with lemon slices in winter. This idea appeared in the film Blast from the Past initially set in the early '60s.
In 1978, Jake Holmes wrote the lyrics to "Be a Pepper". Earlier in the 1970s, Randy Newman wrote another jingle entitled "The Most Original Soft Drink Ever". Barry Manilow performed Jake's jingle in concerts and on albums under the inclusion of "VSM – Very Strange Medley". A TV commercial was also created using the jingle and ran from 1977–1985. The song noted "It's not a cola, it's something much much more. It's not a root beer, you get root beer by the store." (W.W. Clements, former CEO and president of the Dr Pepper/7-Up Company, similarly described the taste of Dr Pepper as one-of-a-kind, saying, "I've always maintained you cannot tell anyone what Dr Pepper tastes like because it's so different. It's not an apple, it's not an orange, it's not a strawberry, it's not a root beer, it's not even a cola. It's a different kind of drink with a unique taste all its own.")
Dr Pepper has also been featured outside the "I'm a Pepper" motif. An example is in the video game Pikmin 2, where one of the collectible treasures is a Dr Pepper bottle cap (it is labeled as the "Drought Ender"). Also, an empty Dr Pepper bottle is featured in the book Ragweed by Newbery Medal-winning author Avi; the book’s illustrator, Brian Floca, is the son of a Dr Pepper bottler. Several of the classic non-"I'm a Pepper" commercials featured prominent movie stars, one being a television advertisement with Chris Rock as a child enjoying a Dr Pepper.
The 1980s "Out of the Ordinary" advertising campaign involved a series of postapocalyptic commercials featuring a space cowboy and an alien sidekick seeking "something different" from a simple generic cola. The campaign also produced commercials featuring the movie creature Godzilla, where citizens of a Japanese town offered Dr Pepper as a libation. The commercials were prominently featured during the 1986 syndication of The Canned Film Festival, which was sponsored by the Dr Pepper Company.
Outside the United States, Squeeze's Glenn Tilbrook and Chris Difford played for a Dr Pepper advert in the UK with the slogan, "Hold out for the out of the ordinary."
Dr Pepper's "Be You" advertising campaign centered on commercials featuring pairs of popular musicians, including LeAnn Rimes with Reba McEntire, Paulina Rubio with Celia Cruz, Thalía with Tito Puente, B2K with Smokey Robinson, Anastacia with Cyndi Lauper, Patricia Manterola with Ana Gabriel, and LL Cool J with Run-D.M.C. The campaign also featured individual musicians, notably Garth Brooks.
Dr Pepper made several appearances in the 1994 Robert Zemeckis major motion picture, Forrest Gump, as it was the beverage of choice for the movie's namesake lead character, played by Tom Hanks. In one of the film's Dr Pepper scenes, Forrest's narrative suggests, "The best part about goin' to the White House was, they had all the food and drink that you wanted ... I must have had me 15 Dr Peppers." When subsequently asked by the President how he felt, Forrest gave an honest answer of "I gotta pee." Although, arguably the film's largest product placement installation, the depiction of Dr Pepper was perhaps not always accurate as, in another scene during the 1972 New Year's Eve celebration which Forrest attends, he drinks a Dr Pepper with a logo that was inconsistent with the timeline of the film.
Dr Pepper was introduced to the Australian market in 1997 with a short-lived TV advertising campaign and low-priced 280-ml cans sold through supermarkets. Dr Pepper was subsequently sold in 1.25-litre plastic bottles alongside other major brands until 2003. Cadbury Schweppes stated the product did not gain acceptance by Australians, whose detractors complained that the drink tasted like "cough syrup" (a tag also given to sarsaparilla). A report on the soft drink industry by IBIS accused Cadbury Schweppes of failing in their marketing of the brand, given its global appeal. It is probable that the major problem with the marketing campaign was in advertising it as "American". The use of the Statue of Liberty moving to Australia and passing cans of Dr Pepper on to two Australian males made its imported (i.e. "non-Australian") status clear.
After withdrawing from the Australian market, Dr Pepper arrived without fanfare in New Zealand. Cans imported from the US are available in some specialty stores in New Zealand and Australia.
On the December 20, 2000, episode of the Late Show with David Letterman, Letterman jokingly referred to Dr Pepper as "liquid manure". After a representative of Dr Pepper complained, CBS agreed not to rerun that episode. Letterman repeatedly made assurances on the show that he was joking.
From 2001 to 2003, Diet Dr Pepper aired ads that promise authentic Dr Pepper taste, using the slogan "Diet Dr Pepper tastes more like regular Dr Pepper", paroding new ideas inferior to the originals, including XGA (not PGA) Extreme Golf, Green Bay Watch (spoof of Baywatch) and a TV show CHimPs (rather than CHiPs). These ads were produced by They Might Be Giants.
Several ads for Diet Cherry Vanilla Dr Pepper appeared on television in 2005. In one, a young woman on a blind date at a restaurant who sips into the beverage, suddenly makes her date, restaurant patrons, and even a waitress all part of a musical sequence involving The Muppets version of the song "Mah Nà Mah Nà".
One campaign features the Queen song "I Want It All".
On January 1, 2008, the company unveiled a new TV ad campaign featuring the Cheers theme song ("Where Everybody Knows Your Name") performed by Gary Portnoy.
In a 2008 ad, a student in a college lecture takes a sip of Dr Pepper. When he stops drinking, the Dr Pepper can sings variations of "Flava Licious" (Flavor Flav), and other people in the room start dancing.
In 2008, Dr Pepper in the UK restarted launching its old adverts and slogan, "What's the worst that can happen?" They also started an onpack promotion for free ringtones with up to 20 to collect. A commercial for this included Jesse Eisenberg being forced to be on live TV without his clothes on.
As of 2009, the slogan of the product is "Drink it slow. Doctor's orders". Advertising supporting the slogan has celebrities with famous relations to the word "doctor" (Dr. Dre, Julius "Dr. J" Erving, Gene Simmons (writer of the Kiss song "Calling Dr. Love"), et al.) or who played fictional doctors (such as Neil Patrick Harris or Kelsey Grammer) endorsing the beverage. The ads culminate with the celebrity stating, "Trust me. I'm a doctor", followed by the new slogan appearing onscreen with a glass of Dr Pepper.
In 2010, Dr Pepper was part of a marketing/promotional campaign with Marvel Studios to promote the summer blockbuster Iron Man 2; characters from the film adorned cans of Dr Pepper, Diet Dr Pepper, and Dr Pepper Cherry.
In 2011, rapper Pitbull appeared in a commercial with the slogan "Let's have a real good time."
Also in 2011, Dr Pepper was featured as an official drink in the anime Steins;Gate.
Dr Pepper Girl
In 1963, singer Donna Loren became a spokesperson for the company when she was selected in a nationwide search to be the “Dr Pepper Girl”. National exposure followed for Loren as she promoted the drink via radio, print, television, calendars, billboards, and personal appearances. One of her first appearances for the company was as co-host with Dick Clark (who she worked with regularly) of an ABC television special, Dr Pepper Celebrity Party. She subsequently made hundreds of singing and personal appearances for Dr Pepper. In Dr Pepper—King of Beverages, Dr Pepper historian Harry E. Ellis wrote, “Sparkly, vivacious and gifted with a wonderful voice, Donna was an immediate success. She became widely known in a short period as “The Dr Pepper Girl,” appearing at special events and on programs sponsored by the Company. Miss Loren would figure prominently in Dr Pepper’s plans for about five years, both as an entertainer and as an advertisement personality via radio, TV, and many other media. She appeared on 24-sheet poster boards, point-of-sale and on Dr Pepper calendars.”
Donna Loren’s role as Dr Pepper spokesperson led to her first appearance in the American International Pictures’ Beach Party film, Muscle Beach Party. Loren later explained: “Dr Pepper was involved in that [the Beach Party movies] and actually placed me as product placement. And because I could sing, they gave me a duet with Dick Dale, and then it just went on from there.” From this, she went on to appear in three more Beach Party films. Away from the company, Loren was a familiar presence in the 1960s due to her many performances on television, films, and her records for Capitol, Reprise and other labels. She represented Dr Pepper until 1968.
Free Dr Pepper for everyone in America
On March 26, 2008, various media outlets reported that Dr Pepper would offer 'a free can of Dr Pepper to everyone in America' —excluding former Guns N' Roses guitarists Buckethead and Slash— if the band released the long-awaited Chinese Democracy in 2008. Later in the day, lead vocalist Axl Rose replied to Dr Pepper on Guns N' Roses' official website and spoke of his surprise at Dr Pepper's support. Rose also said he would share his Dr Pepper with Buckethead as "some of Buckethead's performances are on Chinese Democracy". After it was announced that the album would be released in 2008, Dr Pepper confirmed that it would uphold its pledge. However, Dr Pepper's online distribution of free coupons upon the album's release November 23, 2008 proved less than adequate. Lawyers for the band threatened Dr Pepper's parent company with a lawsuit just two days after the album's release. In a letter to Dr Pepper, Rose's lawyer Alan Gutman said "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 Chinese Democracy's release." Rose's lawyer also demanded that the company make a full-page apology that would appear in The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, The New York Times and The Los Angeles Times. In a later interview, Rose claimed he told his lawyers it was a non-issue and was surprised by their actions.
Dr Pepper Museum
The Dr Pepper Museum, located in the Artesian Manufacturing and Bottling Company building at 300 South Fifth Street in downtown Waco, Texas, opened to the public in 1991. The building was the first building to be built specifically to bottle Dr Pepper. It was completed in 1906, and Dr Pepper was bottled there until the 1960s. The museum has three floors of exhibits, a working old-fashioned soda fountain, and a gift store of Dr Pepper memorabilia.
Dr Pepper Capital of the World
The company sells more Dr Pepper in the Roanoke Valley area of Virginia than any other metropolitan area east of the Mississippi River. Roanoke is approximately 90 miles east of the hometown of Dr. Charles T. Pepper, which is Rural Retreat, Virginia, and 30 miles east of Christiansburg, Virginia, home of Dr. Pepper and Morrison referred to in the census information above. John William "Bill" Davis opened the first Dr. Pepper plant east of the Mississippi in Roanoke in 1936; subsequently the city was named the "Dr Pepper Capital of the World" and broke world records for its mass consumption of Dr Pepper in the late 1950s. Dr Pepper donated a portion of its sales revenue in the Roanoke area to finance restoration of a circa-1950s neon Dr Pepper sign, which has the company's "10–2–4" logo from the time, in downtown Roanoke. In October 2015, the city of Roanoke declared October 24 (10-2-4) to be its official Dr. Pepper Day.