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Tuesday, July 28, 2009


Here's a place I bet most of you don't know exists, but you very well might be a fan of this product. If you are a fan, you certainly don't want to miss the Dr. Pepper Museum in Waco, Texas. Waco is a name out of cowboy movies and the “old west,” so I liked the idea of simply going to the city memorialized by its wild ways. Dr. Pepper was certainly never on the Most Wanted list—except by zillions of soda drinkers.

If you love Dr. Pepper, you know how this special soda has a cult following, and this museum traces its creation and its rise in popularity in a very entertaining way. Even the salespeople who popularized this little soda to people across the nation and the world are part of the museum. People with only one product and a big mission performed a miracle. They are examples of a combination of hard work and the opportunities afforded by free enterprise, and the upper floor of the museum houses The W.W. Foote Free Enterprise Institute to support this noteworthy combination. Dr. Pepper is the proof that a combination of free enterprise and hard work brings out man's creativity and ingenuity. The man who really sold the public on Dr. Pepper did it simply but persistently. He offered samples of this unusual beverage to the man -on-the-street. The unique taste caught the public's imagination, and Dr. Pepper's popularity soon spread. Here's a bit of the hologram presentation.

The first time I tasted Dr. Pepper many years ago on my first driving trip south with Rob, we filled up the trunk of the car and brought six-packs back to New York; Dr. Pepper didn't sell up here yet. That's hard to imagine today, but it's true. This soda had a great and surprising taste, and I became a fan.

In addition to tracing the history of Dr. Pepper which had its origins in the combinations of flavors behind a drug store soda fountain, visitors can see how it is bottled and shipped. I got a kick out of a video that demonstrated how cans of soda are put together. I never really thought of it before.

I never thought about the evolution of can and bottle shapes and some of the reasons why companies decide on a particular style to attract customers. Marketing professionals certainly have an interesting make or break job! How's this for a marketing tool—the Dr. Pepper slogan: 10, 2, and 4. Studies showed that workers begin to drag at those times, so the company promoted Dr. Pepper breaks. It was just the pick-me-up to get the adrenalin pumping again. Companies adopted that Dr. Pepper break, and some even supplied the soda for their employees. A taste for the soda spread rapidly.

Also intriguing was the variety of soda machines displayed in its own section of the museum. We all laughed at some of these, and it was quite a jolt to see how far back our own memories went because those soda machines really were old!!!! (although we ARE NOT old)

The pièce de résistance, however, was a horse made of Dr. Pepper caps. Really

One huge disappointment in this tour. No sampling! Though there is an admission charge similar to ones at wineries we've visited, the only Dr. Pepper offered came with a price tag. This missing piece really surprised us. It would have been fun to end up in a “tasting room.” Available in the gift shop was every possible Dr. Pepper souvenir imaginable from post cards, magnets, neon clocks and signs, clothing, picnic bags, winter jackets and windbreakers. Some of these were ridiculous, but they made the gift shop fun. Had we had a tasting opportunity, I might have been more amenable, but two post cards later...

If you remember “I'm a Pepper; you're a Pepper,” if you like that special Dr. Pepper flavor, or if you're in the mood for something a little different from ordinary tourist haunts, find yourself in Waco, Texas, and ask for directions to the Dr. Pepper Museum.


Louise said...

When I was growing up in KY in the late 50"s, Dr. Pepper was very popular. my great uncle, Willard Fulton, sold it at his little store at the crossroads of three hollows. My youngest brother would not drink it cold. If Willard didn't have any that was out of the cooler, Doug would hold it in his hands until it was room temp before he drank it.

Heidi said...

Samples are always a good selling feature! It sounded like fun despite lack of a thirst quenching freebie!

Wendy, a Blithe Spirit said...

This soda really has a cult following. It was a lot of fun. Lots of kitsch. Touristy. Somewhat tacky, I guess. But it had a great message and a great history. It's kind of like The Little Engine that Could. I enjoyed it immensely.