Dr Pepper is a carbonated soft drink marketed as having a unique flavor.
Dr Pepper is the oldest major soft drink in America, having been created, manufactured, and sold in 1885 by pharmacist Charles Alderton.
Charles Alderton worked at a drugstore in Waco, Texas, owned by Wade Morrison. Legend has it that Morrison named it “Dr. Pepper” after the father of a young girl he was once in love with.
There are other theories about the origins of the soft drink’s name. One conjecture is the “pep” refers to pepsin.
In 1891, Morrison and Lazenby formed the Artesian Mfg. & Bottling Company, which later became the Dr Pepper Company.
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.
Like many early sodas, the drink was also marketed as a brain tonic and energizing pick-me-up.
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 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.
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 1960s.
In 1963, Diet Dr Pepper was introduced as “Dietetic Dr Pepper.” Sales were initially slow because of the unfortunate name, which was changed three years later to “Diet Dr Pepper.” In 1991, Diet Dr Pepper was reformulated and sales soared. In 2002, as Americans became increasingly health-conscious, Diet Dr Pepper became a top 10 soft drink in the United States, a position that it holds to this day.
Caffeine Free Dr Pepper was first released in 1983.
From 2002 through 2008, Dr Pepper offered several delicious flavor extensions, including Cherry Vanilla Dr Pepper, Dr Pepper Berries & Cream, and Diet Cherry Chocolate Dr Pepper. In 2008, Dr Pepper introduced Dr Pepper Cherry in regular and diet varieties, and consumers fell in love with its smooth kiss of cherry.
Heritage Dr Pepper became available around November 2009 in various outlets around the United States. As its name implies, it is a “re-release” of sorts of Dr Pepper’s original formula, which uses sugar instead of high fructose corn syrup, which Dr Pepper and other brands of soft drink started to use around the early 1970s.
Dr Pepper “Made with Real Sugar” was released to commemorate the drink’s 125th anniversary during the summer of 2010. It featured the use of “real” sugar which was likely a mix of cane and beet sugar as opposed to its usual high fructose corn syrup.
Dr Pepper TEN, a low-calorie version of Dr Pepper, was released in 2011.
Dr. Pepper is not owned by the Coca-Cola Company or PepsiCo in the United States. It operates under the Dr Pepper Snapple Group, which also owns 7 Up and Snapple. In international markets, Coca-Cola owns the rights to Dr. Pepper for Europe and PepsiCo for Canada and Oceania.
Dr Pepper Snapple Bottling Group (formerly Dr Pepper/Seven Up Bottling Group and Cadbury Schweppes Bottling Group) is the third largest bottling company in the United States after Pepsi Beverages Company and Coca-Cola Enterprises.
Other Dr Pepper products include a line of jelly beans made with the Jelly Belly company, a Dr Pepper-flavored Hubba Bubba bubblegum, Dr Pepper Sweet & Kickin’ BBQ Sauce and Dr Pepper “More than Mesquite” Marinade. There is also a lip balm which has the flavour of Dr. Pepper.
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.
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.
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.
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.