Wouldn’t You Like To Be a Pepper Too?
If you’re down Waco way in Texas, maybe visiting Chip and Joanna Gaines’ Magnolia Market, and looking for somewhere different to go for a refreshing break well, I have just the ticket.
Less than a handful of blocks from the Market you can treat yourself to a Dr. Pepper float, at the spot where Dr. Pepper was first bottled.
The Dr. Pepper Museum & Free Enterprise Institute has hosted more than 1.7 million visitors since its opening in 1991. It is located in the former Artesian Manufacturing and Bottling Company building known as the Home of Dr. Pepper. The more than 100-year-old building is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
One of the things visitors to the museum should know, maybe the most important, is that it is not owned or operated by Keurig Dr. Pepper (the company’s current official name). It does receive support from the company but also receives additional support through contributors to its foundation.
That’s important because it explains why, even though the lion’s share of the museum is devoted to everything Dr. Pepper, you’ll also see exhibits including Coca Cola and other competitors of the soda. Coca Cola, as a matter of fact, also donates to the museum.
The Dr. Pepper museum is a walk through history with static displays, large videos sharing how the soda originated and then grew to become a major brand, and a glimpse into what the old bottling plant originally looked like.
No one really knows for sure where the Dr. Pepper name came from, but it is credited to Wade Morrison, owner of Morrison’s Old Corner Drug Store in Waco. Now, Morrison didn’t invent the concoction that ultimately became Dr. Pepper’s signature recipe. That distinction got to a young pharmacist working at the store named Charles Alderton.
As the story goes, Alderton liked making up carbonated drinks for Morrison’s customers. This was the late 1800s when bottled sodas were just coming into their own so people typically enjoyed their sodas hand made at drug store counters.
Alderton liked the way the drug store smelled with all of the smell of the main fruit syrup used in the different sodas floating in the air and set about mixing a drink that matched that many-flavored scent. After many experiments to determine just the right mixture he finally came upon one he, and his customers, loved.
It soon became so popular that Morrison’s Drug Store began selling the syrup to other Waco drug stores as well. Customers ordering it at the time simply requested a “Waco” before Morrison officially declared it Dr. Pepper.
There’s a lot more to the story, including how it was introduced at the 1904 World’s Fair along with, hamburgers and frankfurters on buns, and ice cream cones. You can read all about it on the museum website.
There’s much more to do at the museum than simply tour through, which, by the way, is self-guided so you can stop in anytime during the day. There a few special attractions that are only held at specific times so check the website:
Liquid Lab takes visitors through the science of soda. Free with general admission to the museum, staff walk people through the behind the scenes of how sodas are created.
Taste-A-Soda allows you to choose a flight of six different soda samples. Staff guide you through the samples, providing tips on what to choose based on your preferences. If you’re especially adventurous it gives you the opportunity to try some sodas you’ve never seen before. Cost is $12.
Make-A-Soda, which I didn’t get the chance to do but sounds like so much fun, lets you pretend to be a young Charles Alderton and mix together a bottle of your own concoction with three different flavors of your choosing. The eight-ounce bottle is then sealed and signed with your name. You can make more than one bottle but each bottle costs $10.
Admission to the museum is $10 for adults and it includes a free drink at the soda fountain.
Or, you can do like me, be a Pepper and use the free drink coupon to get $1 off an upgrade to something else, like, say, maybe, a Dr. Pepper float.
Oh, and about the title of this post:
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