Image above: Advertisement for the soft drink on a building in Anson, Texas, 2014, Carol M. Highsmith. Courtesy Library of Congress.
Spotlight on Lesser Known History
Dr. Pepper Museum, Texas
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On this page we're going to Spotlight the lesser known historic sites and attractions that dot the history landscape across the USA and are worth a visit if you're in their area. And while they may be lesser known, some are very unique, and will be that rare find. You'll be, at times, on the ground floor, or maybe even know something others don't. It'll be fun. Visit them.
Dr. Pepper Museum, Texas
It started with a Brooklyn born pharmacist, Charles Alderton, who worked at a local Waco pharmacy and experimented with concocting a carbonated drink with a unique taste in the early 1880's. It took the name Dr. Pepper in 1885, so it's likely a predate to the beverage that overtook it nationally today. Coca-Cola did not begin to take flight until 1886. Unfortunately there has been a rivalry every since, as well as attempts by Coca-Cola to buy it. Let's forget about that. At first, Alderton claimed it had medicinal qualities; you can argue that. But what you can not argue is the unique, but imperfect success that this somewhat oddly tasting beverage has had over the next century. And today you can visit all its memorabilia and history in a unique museum housed in one of their plants. Photo above: Dr. Pepper Museum housed in the Artesian Manufacturing and Bottling Building where it was manufactured, 2008, Larry D. Moore. Courtesy Wikipedia Commons C.C. 4.0.
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Info, What's There Now, History Nearby
Dr. Pepper Museum, Texas
While the museum gets support from Dr. Pepper/Snapple and their bottlers, it is a private museum. Both whimsical and technical to the rise of the drink and its place in beverage history, the Dr. Pepper Museum opened in 1991.
There are three floors of exhibits about the company and its founders, an open soda fountain, and a gift store.
Image above: Old Corner Drug Store exhibit with Charles Alderton statue in place, 2016, Michael Barera. Courtesy Wikipedia Commons C.C. 4.0. Below: Advertisement of a cowboy and his Dr. Pepper on wall in Dublin, Texas, 2014, Carol M. Highsmith. Courtesy Library of Congress.
Where Is It
The Dr. Pepper Museum is located at 300 South Fifth Street, Waco, Texas, 76701.
What is There Now
Dr. Pepper Museum
The museum is housed in the Artesian Manufacturing and Bottling Building where the drink was bottled from 1906 to the 1960's. In 1983, the building was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.
It has an old-fashioned soda fountain and three floors of exhibits.
When Open and How Much
Open daily, 10:00 to 5:30 Monday to Saturday; 12:00 to 5:30 on Sunday. Admission costs $10 adults, $6 students and children, 4 and under free. And for an extra fee, you can Make a Soda. Other discounts apply.
Fees subject to change.
Dr. Pepper Museum
There's so much to see around Waco; i.e. Waco Mammoth National Monument, Baylor University's Museum Complex, etc., that there doesn't seem to be too much need for a reminder to the Texas outside Waco, but yes, it's home to sites about the Texas Revolution at the Alamo, San Jacinto, or the Battle of Goliad, and national parks like Big Bend, Lake Roosevelt, and Big Thicket.
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Pharmacist Charles Alderton
Charles Alderton was a pharmacist at the Morrison Old Corner Drug Store. While he spent most of his time parceling medication to the citizens of Waco, in his spare time he tested a variety of tastes for a fruit based drink he would carbonate. His first test subject, the owner Morrison, liked the drink as well, allowing Alderton to sell it to his customers at the soda fountain. The drink became so popular; it was called the Waco at the time, (some controversy on who added the Dr to the name Pepper, some crediting Morrison, and others the first bottling plant in Dublin).
It became so popular that other soda shops in Waco would buy the syrup from Morrison and serve it at their shop. Eventually, they couldn't produce enough, and Alderton, interested in his pharmacy work, gave the idea for furthering the drink to production to Morrison and Robert S. Lazenby, a young beverage chemist.
Photo above: Pharmacist Charles Alderton, creator and inventor of the Dr. Pepper soft drink, pre 1923, author unknown. Courtesy Wikipedia Commons.
History of Dr. Pepper
At first, various bottlers took up the slack, with the Dublin plant first bottling the drink made with pure cane sugar. Morrison and Lazenby in 1891 formed the Artesian Manufacturing and Bottling Company. The name would change to the Dr. Pepper Company later.
It's fame first grew throughout the south, and took a jump in popularity when it was featured at the St. Louis World's Fair in 1904. It was introduced with a variety of new items at the exposition; ice cream cones, frankfurters and hamburgers on buns, and more.
A variety of slogans were used throughout its history; "King of Beverages," "Old Doc," and "Drink a Bite to Eat at 10, 2, and 4." Today's slogan, "There's just more to it," stems from the fact that their are twenty-three fruit flavors in the drink.
Net sales of Dr. Pepper in 2020 were 11.62 billion dollars.
Image above: Entrance to the Dr. Pepper Museum in Waco, Texas, 2014, Carol M. Highsmith. Courtesy Library of Congress.
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Another Dr. Pepper Museum
It was such a popular soft drink in the south that to have only one museum dedicated to Dr. Pepper seemed absurd. In Dublin, Texas, housed in the first plant used to manufacture the drink, the Kloster Museum, named after the plant manager, is replete with artifacts of the drink, the company, and the original site. It was upon bottling the drink at this plant that the addition of Dr. was added to its name.
But there's controvery here, at least as time went by. While the Kloster Museum is open, the bottling plant, the original plant from 1891, can no longer sell its namesake cherry cola, as its Dublin Dr. Pepper, which it had the rights to sell was supposed to only be sold in a six county area. The larger company who allowed it, Dr. Pepper Snapple, brought in lawyers and the Dublin brand is no longer bottled.
Photo above: The state named "The Inspiration," depicting plant manager, Kloster, known as Mr. Dr. Pepper outside the Kloster Museum housed in the first Dr. Pepper plant in Dublin, 2014, Carol M. Highsmith. Courtesy Library of Congress.
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