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  • Writer's pictureAdam Horvath

Dr Pepper- Bubblin' in Dublin

Updated: Jul 5, 2021

I’m not sure how much truth there is to this, but I heard that the original version of Alanis Morrisette’s 1996 hit song Ironic had the following lyrics: (read with twenty something year old Canadian angst)

“A Texas man created a soda with 23 different flavors, and thought it was great

but blocks away, fraternity brothers dropped amaretto shots into their beer

and it tasted exactly the same. Isn’t it ironic, don’t you think?”

Obviously, there is no truth to that ditty, I made it up. It just seems a bit exhausting to me that this guy needed 23 different flavors to come up with a drink that tastes a lot like the beer cocktail I used to pound in college. Respectfully.

Pro Tip: if anyone of you have yet to drop a shot of Disaronno into a mug of beer and chug it, do it. If you don’t think it tastes exactly like a Dr Pepper, fight me.

The truth is, that in 1885 Charles Alderton, a pharmacist working at Wade Morrison’s Old Corner Drug Store in Waco Texas had a desire to formulate a new drink for the growing social scene gathering around the drug store’s soda fountain. At that time, pharmacies offered effervescent drugs i.e., flavored extracts, caffeine and even cocaine mixed with seltzer to help cure physical ailments. Pharmacy owners quickly realized that by adding a soda fountain area that offered flavored drinks, they could add another revenue stream. I’m sure the availability of legal sparkling yayo didn’t hurt either.

Charles’s soda pop was very different than the basic vanilla and sarsaparilla flavors offered at other pharmacies. It quickly became the in-vogue drink in Waco and other soda shops would travel miles to Morrison’s to buy the syrup. Without a proper name, people would just ask the soda jerk to “shoot me a Waco” until Wade Morrison finally branded it Dr Pepper, allegedly after his former lover’s father. That weirds me out a lil to be honest. Dr Pepper remained a regional treat for years until it’s national introduction at the St Louis World’s fair in 1904. (On my top 5 would-time-travel-to list)

Dublin Dr Pepper

Dublin is a small Central Texas city steeped in Dr Pepper tradition. In 1891 the Dublin Bottling Works Company became the first to bottle this fresh new soda. According to Texas Monthly their distribution radius was limited to 6 counties and just 44 miles, the distance a salesman’s horse could travel in one day. The story gets interesting years later. As the rest of the world switched from real sugar to the more cost-effective high fructose corn syrup, Mr. Kloster in Dublin did not budge. And despite the mandate from corporate, he continued to bottle his Dr Pepper with the original recipe. This look-the-other-way arrangement went on for years and as long as it was sold within the 44-mile territory, corporate seemed content.

As you might have expected, demand for the “Dublin Dr Pepper” created a cult following and an actual black market. Forget oil, this “Texas Tea” was the real hot commodity in Central Texas. People would come from all over and load up their pick-up trucks to fill up empty soda bottles and sell them in farther away counties. When the internet started and the soda became available online, more soda was being sold outside of the approved area, Finally the Dr Pepper Snapple Group interceded and filed court papers to cease using the term Dublin Dr Pepper. As a result, on January 12, 2012, over 120 years later, Dublin Dr Pepper was declared dead.

The Aftermath

The love for the original recipe lingers on in Central Texas. The renamed Dublin Bottling Works Co dropped the Dr Pepper moniker from their name and continues to sell their own line of natural sugar sodas all available online. Despite the unceremonious uncoupling, DBW continued to embrace their past as the first Dr Pepper bottler and proudly displayed their history at their soda shop and museum. SADLY, as of June 8, 2021, COVID took another casualty and the store and museum closed for good. While DBW is still in business, their retail shop is limited. See the website for info.

A unit of Dr Pepper in Temple Texas, who has their own history of selling the real sugar recipe since 1924, continues to distribute the original recipe within the original 6 county territory, but all references of Dublin have been removed.

I’m no longer really a soda person although I do prefer a Mexican Coke every once and a while. And like the real sugar version of Coke, the original recipe of Dr Pepper does taste better. It lacks the artificial taste and has nodes of black cherry and amaretto. The true excitement for me about this soda, was the limited 44-mile geographic reach making it a worthy side trip. RIP Dublin Dr Pepper, I would have liked to have known you, but your candle burned out long before your legend ever did!

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