Katherine Martinelli, MSN
With its vaguely spicy, distinctive taste, Dr Pepper is—as its old tagline claimed—one of a kind. The perennially popular soda was first made in 1885, making it the oldest major soft drink brand in the United States. Today, it remains one of the top-selling sodas worldwide. But was there really a Doctor Pepper, or is the name simply clever marketing? The answer, it turns out, is a little of each.
Experiments at the soda fountain
It would appear that there was actually someone named Doctor Pepper once upon a time, though he had nothing to do with the invention of the beverage.
The drink was concocted by a pharmacist—not a doctor—named Charles Alderton, who worked at Morrison’s Old Corner Drug Store in Waco, TX. In those days, pharmacies often doubled as soda fountains, and Alderton was known for trying different flavor combinations rather than simply pouring the usual fruit options. He eventually settled on not one, not two, but 23 flavors, plus phosphoric acid. And to this day, the company holds fast to the line that “Dr Pepper is a unique blend of 23 flavors. The formula for Dr Pepper is proprietary information.” Talk about top secret!