A History of Dr Pepper

Charles Alderton the Inventor of Dr Pepper

The history of Dr Pepper begins in Morrison’s Old Corner Drug Store in the town of Waco, Texas. One of Morrison’s pharmacists was a man by the name of Charles Alderton. Although his primary work at the drug store was mixing medicines for Morrison’s customers, his passion was mixing fountain drinks.

Charles Alderton kept a journal of his mixtures and experiments and finally came up with a concoction with which he was pleased. Alderton introduced the new recipe to his boss, Wade Morrison. Morrison was happy with the drink as well but the two put their minds together to make the drink even better. After repeated sampling and tested they had a new soft drink ready to sell in the drug store. They had created what would one day be known as Dr Pepper.

Although it is not precisely known when Dr Pepper was first sold to the people of Waco, the United States Patent Office recognizes the first day of sale as December 1st, 1885. In those early days the drink was not known as Dr Pepper. Instead locals would order a “Waco.”

Dr Pepper’s original formula sprang from the mind of young pharmacist Charles Alderton, however as time went on he decided that the life of soft drinks was not for him. He sold the formula to Morrison, after which he plays no role in the history of Dr Pepper.

Wade Morrison, Robert S. Lazenby and the Birth of the Dr Pepper Company

Throughout the late 1880’s the “Waco” became increasingly popular. Sometime in the late 1880’s it got its new name: Dr Pepper. Exact origins of the name are unknown, but Morrison is credited with having given the drink the name. The most popular story goes that Dr. Charles T. Pepper was Morrison’s employer in Virginia before Morrison moved on to Waco. The Dr Pepper Museum in Waco, however, claims to have heard accounts of up to twelve different versions of the story.

As Dr Pepper became more popular Wade Morrison found himself unable to cope with the success. He found a new partner in Robert S. Lazenby, who already owned the Circle “A” Ginger Ale Company and something of a beverage chemist himself. In 1891 the two partnered together to open the Artesian Mfg & Bottling Company in Waco. This later became known as the Dr Pepper Company.

Dr Pepper’s biggest breakthrough came in the year 1904. Lazenby and his son-in-law, J.B. O’Hara brought the drink to the World’s Fair in St. Louis, Missouri where it was introduced to 20 million Americans for the first time. The 1904 World’s Fair also introduced America to hamburger and hot dog buns as well as ice cream cones.

After the World’s Fair in 1904 Dr Pepper exploded in popularity and firmly implanted itself into soft drink history. It has been one of the United States’ most popular soft drinks ever since.

Dr Pepper: King of Beverages

In 1910 Dr Pepper became known as the “King of Beverages.” This campaign lasted until 1914. In the 1920’s the character of “Old Doc,” an elderly country doctor with a monocle and top hat became the new symbol of Dr Pepper.

Manufacturing of Dr Pepper moved from Waco to Dallas in 1923. In the 1930’s, research was done concluding that energy providing sugar was important and that during the day the average person experienced a let down at 10:30 AM, 2:30 PM and 4:30 PM. Dr Pepper Company issued a contest to see who could come up with the best marketing slogan based on this information, from which came their famous tagline: “Drink a bite to eat at 10, 2 and 4.”

The name, well ingrained into the American popular consciousness by the 1950’s, underwent a minor change. It was during this time that the period was dropped after the Dr., due to confusion with the changing of their font. With the new font it appeared to say Di: instead of Dr. and it was decided just to drop the period all together. It has never returned to the product.

From the 50’s up to today Dr Pepper has gone through a variety of changes, marketing campaigns and company takeovers. They merged with Seven-Up to create the Dr Pepper/Seven Up, Inc. This was purchased by Cadbury-Schweppes in 1995.

In 2004 Dr Pepper created their new Soda Fountain Classics line of flavors, beginning with Cherry Vanilla Dr Pepper. Berries & Cream Dr Pepper was added to the Fountain Classics line in April of 2006.

With over 120 years of history, Dr Pepper remains one of the most popular soft drinks in the United States. In 1991 the Dr Pepper Museum opened in Waco on the site of the original Dr Pepper Museum. The 3 story building showcases the history of Dr Pepper and of soft drinks in general and is open to the public year round.

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