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Bootlegging Dr Pepper

The demand for sugar-sweetened Dublin Dr Pepper has never been higher — just ask the bootleggers

The upper floor of the Dr Pepper Museum holds a lot of advertising materials. I sang along silently as I read the words to the "I'm a pepper, you're a pepper," jingle. And I dimly recalled the 10-2-4 campaign, which advocated the consumption of three Dr Peppers a day, at 10 a.m., 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. But I had never heard the oldest Dr Pepper slogan: "Drink a bite to eat." I also learned that the period in Dr. was dropped from the name in a logo redesign in the 1950s.

But the Waco museum, which is officially known as the Dr Pepper Museum and Free Enterprise Institute, was a disappointment. The quirky spirit of the soft drink didn't jibe with some of the heavy-handed propaganda on the second floor. Dr Pepper's former owner, a European conglomerate called Cadbury Schweppes, couldn't resist throwing in sales pitches for their other products. There were also exhibits on the marvels of modern soft drink marketing and the brilliance of the "Schweppervesence" slogan. Whatever.

Cadbury Schweppes "demerged" in May of this year, and the beverage division, now called the Dr Pepper Snapple Group, was spun off to investors. How the new owners will deal with the independence of Dublin Dr Pepper is not yet known.

After my Waco tour, I immediately headed out Route 6 for downtown Dublin, home of the oldest Dr Pepper bottling plant in existence. As I drove around town looking for the building, I noticed old-fashioned painted advertisements for Dr Pepper on the sides of buildings with the original slogan, "Drink a Bite to Eat."

The Dublin Dr Pepper building houses another Dr Pepper museum, but it's a homegrown affair. It's connected to Doc's Soda Shop, a fully functioning, old-­fashioned ice cream and soda shop that sells drinks, sundaes and floats and lots of memorabilia, including T-shirts, bottle cap belts and gimme caps. It's also the "secret" headquarters of the Dublin Dr Pepper underground — cases of Dublin Dr Pepper sit beside the door ready to be loaded into bootleggers' vehicles.

The first thing I did when I met Lori Dodd, who runs the soda shop and museum, was to buy an official "Dublin Dr Pepper Bootlegger" T-shirt and a case of soda. Then she gave me a tour of the plant and museum.

The museum was just a couple of rooms full of old Dr Pepper signs and photographs, certificates and permits from the early days at the bottling plant. But the bottling plant was itself a museum. The bottling line equipment looked like an industrial antique. Huge bags of Imperial Pure Cane Sugar had to be carried up to the second floor to be mixed with the base.

The flavored syrup that all Dr Pepper bottlers use is manufactured in St. Louis. Local bottlers just add the carbonated water and the sweetener, which is why it was so easy for the Dublin plant to continue to use cane sugar instead of high-fructose corn syrup. The franchise agreement that bottlers have with Dr Pepper doesn't require them to use any particular sweetener—but it does limit the area where they can deliver products.

And the product that the bootleggers want is a retro-looking eight-ounce bottle full of cane sugar-sweetened Dr Pepper. Though the bottles look old, they are actually new disposable bottles. I drank one while we walked around the factory. There was a wonderful mouth-filling quality about the sugar sweetness that had me smacking my lips.

The disposable eight-ounce bottles are popular, but true connoisseurs have their own bottles. Although Dr Pepper discontinued reusable bottles in 1990, the Dublin Dr Pepper plant still refills old Dr Pepper bottles.

I looked at cases upon cases of bottles going back to the 1960s and 1970s that were waiting to be washed. It's amazing that so many people keep these old bottles in circulation. Dodd told me that there are collectors with bottles dating all the way back to the 1930s — those have to be hand-filled. The factory itself maintains an inventory of over 100,000 old reusable Dr Pepper bottles.

I asked Lori Dodd how she liked working at the Dr Pepper plant. Although she is quite slender, she said that it was difficult to work there and not gain weight.

"All that Dr Pepper around all the time?" I guessed.

"No, actually, it's the Frosty Peppers," she said. The soda fountain at the plant makes Frosty Pepper sundaes by pouring Dr Pepper fountain syrup over Blue Bell vanilla ice cream. It's an old favorite among Dublin locals.

The Dr Pepper plant is so revered in Dublin that on Monday, June 9, in an annual rite of summer, a crew of workers will drive around the city limits taking down the signs that read "Dublin" and replacing them with signs that read "Dr Pepper, Texas."

This act of civic devotion marks the beginning of the weeklong celebration of the plant's anniversary — it turns 117 this year. The party peaks on Saturday, June 14, with live music and carnival booths. (See dublindrpepper.com for details.) That's also when the judges will select the local girl who will serve as this year's "Pretty Peggy Pepper."

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11 comments
Magnus Thunderson
Magnus Thunderson

feel betayed as I found I realy liked the sugar verson and cant stand the HFCS version so will stick with M-dew throwback and sierra mist

Lex
Lex

I just want the old Dr. Pepper back. Please! Pepsi puts out old sugar flavor, why not Dr. Pepper? I drank the old flavor last year and I can't drink the new stuff no more. For the love of god, please!

How many emails or letters do we have to set up to get Dr. Pepper's notice? Somebody should start up a website for this. seriously.

Joe
Joe

I had Dublin Dr. Pepper for the first time when I was graduating Basic Training in the Army. One of my platoon was from Dublin, and had his family bring up several cases of Dublin Dr. Pepper to share with his newfound family. It's like liquid crack. Best thing I've ever tasted.

Susan Lipin
Susan Lipin

If you are looking for cheap prescription drug pharmacy, I would recommend you all to shop at eshoprx.com They are reliable, fast and believe me CHEAPEST.

StoogeFan
StoogeFan

FYI, it's "paging Doctor Howard, Doctor Fine, Doctor Howard."

Marie
Marie

TRY ***JONES*** COLA WITH REAL CANE SUGAR! I tried it again for The 1st time since they removed the awful high fructose corn syrup,diabetes,cancer causing ingredient in people and rats/out of the drink.Let me tell you I am not a big Cola drinker(I prefer DUBLIN DOC. myself) but this is some REALLYreally great soda.(My husband and I shared one and later on in the day we could not resist having another:) We cannot stand the BIG soda company's that SHIP_OUT the real -sugar based- cola around the world and stick us with the bottom of the barrel CORN SYRUP laced crap. You know in other country's CORN SYRUP and HYDROGENATED OILS AND GENETICALLY MODIFIED FOODS ARE illegal, and RIGHTFULLY SO, Americans are finally READING LABELS and have started to take action. Why doesn't the FDA do anything about allowing company's to INJECT the PROVEN CANCER CAUSING SODIUM NITRATES in our meets.MOST people think sodiun NITRATE IS A SALT additive -WRONG! Companies wouldn't have to add SODIUM NITRATE to gray colored meat if they would feed the animals we eat a regular diet , with out growth hormones and pesticide ridden grains. LADY'S & GENT'S this is just the beginning,START emailing companies ask them to provide products with out harmful additives,EX:ask Heinz ketchup why do the citizens in England get Ketchup with real sugar and we get the cheap, unnatural , corn syrup in our bottles,in our restaurants.Even chick-fillet uses Corn syrup ketchup.HOWEVER Jason DELI is GREAT,food is the same price as eating at a fast food restaurant these days. also LOOK OUT for products that say NATURAL FLAVORS,that is how company's can legally put natural on their product without breaking the law.LOOK TO BUY FOODS WITH ALL NATURAL INGREDIENTS -NOT all natural FLAVORS

In everything you eat their will always be a natural flavor in it so it is a legal term. READ YOUR LABELS,SUPPORT COMPANIES that sell REAL FOOD-like my daughter says.

Here are some more CORN SYRUP FREE PRODUCTS *Mexican COKE *HANSONS *IZZY LIZZY *BOYLYNNS(served at JASONS DELI,check out their corn-syrup free salad bar,they are 99% cornsyrup free!) *WALLGREENS brand bottled soda(it acually says CORNSYRUP FREE ON THE FRONT and is priced nice.) *SOBE-LIFE WATER(watch out for OTHER SOBE drinks because MOST of their products DO contain cornsyrup *SWEET LEAF,made in AUSTIN with litte old lady on front,the mint tea is yummy. *ACCELERADE-way better then TOXIC Gatorade but pricy. have a great day & teach someone else about natural ingredients:)

marie
marie

TRY ***JONES*** COLA WITH REAL CANE SUGAR! I tried it again for The 1st time since they removed the awful high fructose corn syrup,diabetes,cancer causing ingredient in people and rats/out of the drink.Let me tell you I am not a big Cola drinker(I prefer DUBLIN DOC. myself) but this is some REALLYreally great soda.(My husband and I shared one and later on in the day we could not resist having another:) We cannot stand the BIG soda company's that SHIP_OUT the real -sugar based- cola around the world and stick us with the bottom of the barrel CORN SYRUP laced crap. You know in other country's CORN SYRUP and HYDROGENATED OILS AND GENETICALLY MODIFIED FOODS ARE illegal, and RIGHTFULLY SO, Americans are finally READING LABELS and have started to take action. Why doesn't the FDA do anything about allowing company's to INJECT the PROVEN CANCER CAUSING sodium NITRATES in our meets.MOST people think sodiun NITRATE IS A SALT additive -WRONG! Companies wouldn't have to add SODIUM NITRATE to gray colored meat if they would feed the animals we eat a regular diet , with out growth hormones and pesticide ridden grains. LADY'S & GENT'S this is just the beginning,START emailing companies ask them to provide products with out harmful additives,EX:ask Heinz ketchup why do the citizens in England get Ketchup with real sugar and we get the cheap, unnatural , corn syrup in our bottles,in our restaurants.Even chick-fillet uses Corn syrup ketchup.HOWEVER Jason DELI is GREAT,food is the same price as eating at a fast food restaurant these days. also LOOK OUT for products that say NATURAL FLAVORS,that is how company's can legally put natural on their product without breaking the law.LOOK TO BUY FOODS WITH ALL NATURAL INGREDIENTS -NOT all natural FLAVORS

In everything you eat their will always be a natural flavor in it so it is a legal term. READ YOUR LABELS,SUPPORT COMPANIES that sell REAL FOOD-like my daughter says.

Here are some more CORN SYRUP FREE PRODUCTS *Mexican COKE *HANSONS *IZZY LIZZY *BOYLYNNS(served at JASONS DELI,check out their corn-syrup free salad bar,they are 99% cornsyrup free!) *WALLGREENS brand bottled soda(it acually says CORNSYRUP FREE ON THE FRONT and is priced nice.) *SOBE-LIFE WATER(watch out for OTHER SOBE drinks because MOST of their products DO contain cornsyrup *SWEET LEAF,made in AUSTIN with litte old lady on front,the mint tea is yummy. *ACCELERADE-way better then TOXIC Gatorade but pricy. have a great day & teach someone else about natural ingredients:)

robb walsh
robb walsh

A commenter on the Dallas Observer website reports finding Dublin Dr. Pepper in Umm al-Quwain--one of the United Arab Emirates.

John
John

I just happened to stop off at a gas station in New Terrirory, and they had not only the small 8oz "classic" bottle of Imperial Sugar Dr. Pepper, but a full 20oz plastic bottle version of it too. I'm old enough to have tasted it when they were still using real sugar, but it's been too long and I didn't remember any difference to what we have now. Well I can say the taste is still very similar but it is much cleaner. It seems to be not as thick/syrupy (is that the right word?)... and the carbonation seemed just a little more refreshing because of that. Hey, it could have all been in my head, but I liked it.

I'm not sure how long ago this article was written, but I think they have expanded the rollout of the imperial sugar product, it's much easier to get I think. And the price at this gas station was the same price they charge for the other 20oz sodas. Not bad!

robb walsh
robb walsh

Spec's carrying Dublin Dr Pepper too.

Mike
Mike

Mexican cokes are the way to go. Try the Mexican orange drinks too.

 
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