Looking back on our motorcycle getaway to a true Texas original – Dublin Dr. Pepper. It seems like just yesterday we loaded up the bikes and hit the high road. The morning air was crisp with a slight breeze that kept the temperature in the upper 60s. We headed north up US281 towards Hico. Shortly after starting we had to make a quick stop in Johnson City to get some Excedrin to ease the pain I was having in my Piriformus muscle – (butt). There we met an amazing guy named Daniel who had recently relocated to this gas station to turn it around. This guy understood the true meaning of customer service and carried it out in such a caring manner. For example, this was ROT (Republic of Texas Motorcycle Rally) weekend, Daniel had noticed that when the bikers stopped to rest, they were sitting on the ground at the gas station. He went across the street and purchased a picnic table so that they would have a place to rest. What a guy. In true biker style, we thanked him for his thoughtfulness and signed the table to commemorate this act of kindness.
We continued on our journey north up US281 to Hamilton, Texas where we stopped for gas. We met a local old timer/biker who informed us of another route to take that was more scenic than Highway 6. He didn’t know the name of the road but gave us basic directions to it. We threw caution to the wind and headed on out for the scenic route. The road ended up being FM219 which had as many curves as a rump roast on Easter Sunday. It was nice!!!. We arrived in Dublin, Texas the home of the original pure cane sugar Dr. Pepper, just before noon. Much to our surprise this little town of 1000 people was packed with hordes of visitors celebrating the 120 year anniversary of the original Dr. Pepper. Before you can appreciate the Dublin Dr. Pepper history, you must first know the Dr. Pepper history.
Dr. Pepper is a Texas original, originating at the Morrison’s Old Corner Drug Store in Waco, Texas. It is the oldest of the major brand soft drinks in America, invented by a young pharmacist by the name of Charles Alderton. Charles began selling this new fountain drink in Morrision’s Old Corner store. Soon other soda fountains were buying the syrup from Morrison and serving it.
In 1891 Morrison and new partner Robert Lazenby organized the Artesian Manufacturing and Bottling Company in order to bottle and sell Dr Pepper as well as other soft drinks. That same year, while visiting Waco, a Texas businessman by the name of Sam Houston Prim tasted the new fountain drink and knew he wanted to sell it in his bottling plant in Dublin, Texas, 80 miles to the west.
In 1904 Dr Pepper gained real national exposure, along with other soon to be favorites like ice cream cones and hamburgers at the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis. And the rest, as they say is history…. Well not quite, because in the late 1980’s the bottling companies started replacing pure cane sugar with corn syrup to cut cost. This presented a dilemma for the little Dr. Pepper bottling company in Dublin, Texas where there original formula had been cranking out since the late 1800s. Well not exactly, Bill Kloster, the president at the time, held true to the values he had learned as a child working in the bottling plant and decided to keep the original formula which is based off of pure cane sugar. He used that marketing originality to build a whole new international enterprise and tourist attraction which is now known as Dublin Dr. Pepper. Now that’s original.
There we stood in the hot Texas heat under the big top tent listening to live music, in the middle of Dublin, Texas known today as Dr. Pepper, Texas sipping on a frosty Dublin Dr. Pepper float. Yum…yum… now that’s ‘smack your mama good’. What a wonderful reward after standing in line to see the Dr. Pepper museum of rare collectibles where we learned in the 120 year history the logo has only changed six times. Three of which were in our lifetime… Do you remember the ‘P’ in the Dr. Pepper logo back in the 70’s had a bell bottom base. How’s that for cool. We didn’t get a chance to tour the actual bottling company which still produces Dublin Dr. Pepper today, because the line was too long. We plan to make our way back up there to check it out and have a burger at Old Doc’s place some other time.
UPDATE: In 2012 after 120 years of producing the original Dr Pepper formula, Dublin Bottling Company halted production thanks to Snapple who claims the company was diluting the Dr. Pepper brand. At least we can say we got a chance to experience a true Texas original.