Today, we visit the Dr Pepper Museum in Waco, Texas. After all the years of drinking Dr Pepper, I really wanted to visit the museum once I realized we would be just a couple of miles down the road. The museum is in the first bottling plant and displays a lot of history of the company and exhibits. It took us about an hour to do the tour.
History lesson warning:
Pardon any inaccuracies but I found several disagreements on the facts.
The thought that carbonated water has healing powers is not new. For thousands of years bathing in bubbling water has been treated as healthy. In 1772, bottling carbonation was created and as a byproduct soda drinks.
In the late 1800's it was common for a "Soda Jerk" to have their own mixes of soda. The term Soda Jerk comes from the need to "jerk" the handle when mixing soda water into the syrup. Every drugstore with a soda fountain had their own mixes that were popular in the area. At that time most soda drink would be less than a half dozen flavors mixed together. Here is just a short list of flavors that would have been used.
This is just 18 flavors. Dr Pepper is 23 flavors combined so most stores had even more to choose from. I found information on one that had 76 flavors. Many of our current sodas started as flavors mixed by a pharmacist.
Charles Alderton invented Dr Pepper.
Charles Hires who invented Hire Root Beer.
John Pemperton who invented Coca-Cola.
Caleb Bradham who invented Pepsi-Cola.
All were pharmacists and this is a short list.
People widely believed in the medicinal properties of carbonated drinks and the Drug Stores where they were served were happy to maintain that belief. It also helped that in most stores the pharmacist mixed the sodas.
Dr Pepper is a true native Texas product. The first Dr Pepper was created in the Morrison’s Old Corner Drug Store, and they had a mockup of the store in the museum along with an animatronic of the inventor himself.
Charles Alderton at 28 was working at the Old Corner Drugstore in Waco put together several combinations to come up with a mix that stood out. His mix of 23 flavors was originally referred to as “a Waco.” Mr. Morrison who owned the drug store named the drink Dr Pepper and applied for a patent stating the original date of creation as December 1, 1885. Once patented they could sell the mix as a syrup to other drug stores to use. Over the next couple of years demand grew to the point that they needed to relocate production and in 1906 they began bottling Dr Pepper at the current location of the Dr Pepper Museum. It was the first company headquarters for Dr Pepper. Early on Dr Pepper was written to include the period but not does not due to not being endorsed by any doctor or even being named for a doctor.
Dr Pepper was invented before both Coke a Cola (1886) and Pepsi (1893).
They had an enormous number of examples of signs, bottles, and even jugs.
Anyone remembers getting Soda in a jug like Dr Pepper or AW Root beer?
The building was built over an artesian well which was purified and used for bottling and syrup production. Many wells existed in the area and supplied very good water. This well was active until the 1920's when it started to run dry. The city required that all old wells be sealed and this one was for a long time. In 1992 location was discovered and the top few feet of were concrete was removed. From there down was filled with broken bottles. During restoration 47 buckets of broken soda bottles were removed from the well.
Bottling allowed wide distribution of the soda. It could be sold small stores and filling stations across the area and eventually the country. At about this time the 10 2 4 was added to the logo. The idea is that if you drink a Dr Pepper at 10am, 2pm, and 4pm will aid in digestion and restores vim, vigor, and vitality.
Some of the bottling equipment was on display.
Everything was not just on Dr Pepper. There was also some spaced dedicated to 7up.
We had a hand made Dr Pepper at the soda fountain. It was very good.
It was a lot of fun. Time for lunch and a stop at a local distillery. Both were great.
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